The Educational Railroading Conference Leader Since 1994


2019 Rail Transit Session


21st Century Demand, 19th Century Infrastructure: Future Proofing the Wheel-Rail Interface

Andy Vickerstaff

Andy Vickerstaff
Transport for London

Transport for London faces unprecedented challenges to reduce costs across the business with the removal of the central operating grant in 2021 accompanied by the current fares freeze. This will make it the only major transit authority in Europe which operates with no subsidy. Spending on renewals, enhancements and maintenance across all assets has to justify the investment whilst maintaining an impeccable safety record.

Running a modern metro service on Victorian infrastructure provides major limitations to managing the wheel-rail interface including extreme curvatures, legacy trackforms, tight clearances, poor ventilation, political sensitivity to noise and vibration and limited access to the railway.

This presentation will discuss how London Underground have already implemented a preventative wheel-rail interface strategy which encompasses rolling contact fatigue prediction models, preventative wheel turning periodicities, radii and tonnage dependent rail grinding frequencies and reductions in lineside adhesion management. It will also discuss how the strategy continues to develop through the introduction of premium rail steels, ‘track friendly’ bogies, updated curving rules and improved asset maintainability.