Evolution of thermally induced white etching layer at rail surface during multiple wheel/train passages

Publication Name

International Journal of Fatigue


A thermo-mechanical-phase transformation FEM was developed to quantitatively predict the formation process of thermally-induced white etching layer (WEL) at rail surface. A practical scenario of multiple wheel passages with two locomotives was introduced for a single train, and the evolution of martensitic WEL and the residual stress during ten train passages was reported. The results indicate that an effective heating period during wheel passage is a critical factor to influence WEL formation. For the given model parameters, the maximum volume fraction of martensite increases from 1.8% to 19.78% during the passage of ten trains. The residual stress distribution on the rail top is changed after WEL formation.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)