The Educational Railroading Conference Leader Since 1994


2019 Rail Transit Session


Effectively Managing Your MAJOR ASSET – the RUNNING RAILS

Wyman Jones

Wyman Jones
LA Metro

Running Rails are the most Essential Asset of a Rail System and have been a topic of much discussion; what is the optimum wear rate, what top of rail Custom Rail Profiles should be used on specific radius curves to extend their life, how do we minimize rail corrugation, etc. but in Rail Transit, the answer is more of an art similar to that of years gone by in the age of railroading. Because the rail transit system has a captive fleet of rolling stock and a constant operating speed performance, it is easier to custom grind the running rails to gain the maximum advantage and minimum wear to both the Wheels and the Running Rails.

Since LA Metro originally plagued with a transit trolley standard but wished to provide fast rail service to the LA Community, the alignment curves did not match the high speed rail vehicle’s Truck Design. Since initial construction was already completed, the need to LOOK OUTSIDE THE BOX was required.

To address this “Mis-Match” of the alignment design and vehicle procurement, LA Metro created a group of experts in the field of Wheel Rail Interface to resolve this long term operating problem. The resulting action was to design a better CUSTOM WHEEL PROFILE to operate on the tight transit curved alignment and reshape the Running Rails by designing CUSTOM RAIL PROFILES to maximize the rolling radius effectiveness to minimize wear to both the Vehicle Custom Wheel Profiles and also the Custom Rail Profiles. This action required a comprehensive CUSTOM RAIL GRINDING PROGRAM that could be created and managed on the Rail Transit Tracks so that the long term wear could be minimized on the Major Rail Assets – the Running Rails and the Vehicle Wheels.

It is fairly easy to change the Profile of a Wheel because this can be done in a shop and created OFF-LINE so to speak but the more important and harder to accomplish is how to create the CUSTOM RAIL GRINDING PROFILES on a continuous and operating rail network. To accomplish this activity on the running rails and properly manage its performance the Entire Rail System must be properly mapped.

This presentation is to give a realistic approach on how a Custom Rail Grinding Program is prepared and managed so that the long term advantages to both Wheel and Rail Life can be expanded.