Microstructural characterization of high strength rail steels

Chung Lun Pun, Kim Chuan Sho, Peter Mutton, Wenyi Yan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther

2 Citations (Scopus)


The microstructural features of three high strength heat treated pearlitic rail steels with different chemical compositions, in particular carbon content, and which are currently used in heavy haul railways in Australia, were investigated and correlated to their mechanical properties and cyclic deformation characteristics. Field emission scanning electron microscopy of the microstructure indicated that pro-eutectoid cementite, which has the potential to reduce ductility and hence affect wear and rolling contact fatigue behaviour, was present in the hypereutectoid rail steels with the highest carbon content. Additionally, it was found that the hypereutectoid rail steel with the highest carbon content has the largest interlamellar spacing while the low alloy heat-treated rail steel with the lowest carbon content has the smallest interlamellar spacing of the three rail steels. This low alloy heat-treated rail steel had the highest yield strength and ultimate tensile strength of the three rail steels. The smaller interlamellar spacing is also consistent with the increased sensitivity to cyclic softening that was observed under cyclic loading conditions. The results obtained from the correlation between the microstructural analysis and the plastic deformation behaviour for these steels provides useful information when selecting rail steels for heavy haul applications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th International Conference on Contact Mechanics of Wheel/Rail Systems (CM 2015)
Subtitle of host publicationColorado Springs, United States, 30 August 2015 - 3 September 2015 [proceedings]
PublisherInternational Conference on Contact Mechanics of Wheel / Rail Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Conference on Contact Mechanics and Wear of Rail/Wheel Systems 2015 - Colorado Springs, United States of America
Duration: 30 Aug 20153 Sep 2015
Conference number: 10th


ConferenceInternational Conference on Contact Mechanics and Wear of Rail/Wheel Systems 2015
Abbreviated titleCM 2015
CountryUnited States of America
CityColorado Springs
Internet address

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