In this paper, the mechanism governing the particle-fluid flow characters in the stepped pipeline is studied by the combined discrete element method (DEM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model (CFD-DEM) and the two fluid model (TFM). The mechanisms governing the gas-solid flow in the horizontal stepped pipeline are investigated in terms of solid and gas velocity distributions, pressure drop, process performance, the gas-solid interaction forces, solid-solid interaction forces, and the solid-wall interaction forces. The two models successfully capture the key flow features in the stepped pipeline, such as the decrease of gas velocity, solid velocity, and pressure drop, during and after the passage of gas-solid flow through the stepped section. What is more important, the reason of the appearance of large size solid dune and pressure surge phenomena suffered in the stepped pipeline is investigated macroscopically and microscopically. The section in which the blockage problem most likely occurs in the stepped pipeline is confirmed. The pipe wall wearing problem, which is one of the most common and critical problems in pneumatic conveying system, is analysed and investigated in terms of interaction forces. It is shown that the most serious pipe wall wearing problem happened in the section which is just behind the stepped part.