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The University of Southampton

Research project: Prediction of Railway Impact Noise due to Wheel/Rail Discontinuities

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This project aims to develop a model for predicting the railway impact noise due to wheel/rail discontinuities, including fluctuating sound pressure and peak sound pressure level which cannot be predicted by the convectional frequency domain models.  

Nowadays, the wheel/rail rolling noise can be predicted using frequency-domain models with the assumption of small deflections at the contact patch. One of the well-known models called ‘TWINS’ can provide a good prediction in the frequency domain. However, the assumption of small deflections is not valid for the impact noise prediction as the deflections can be large and the loss of contact can occur at the wheel/rail discontinuities i.e. rail joins, wheel flats, switches and crossings.

This research focusses on developing a method for predicting the railway impact noise, including the peak sound pressure level, utilising time domain simulations. To predict the impact noise, the wheel/rail interaction is studied by implementing a modal approach for a flexible wheelset. It includes rigid body modes as well as high frequency flexible modes which are crucial for noise prediction.

Initially, a simple track model with the point responses at the wheel/rail contact is considered. It is coupled with the flexible wheel by a nonlinear Hertzian contact that allows for the loss of contact. The effect of wheel rotation and the contact filter are also considered in the time-domain simulations.

The dynamic responses of the wheel have been successfully predicted and validated against the existing TWINS model for the case of random roughness excitation. The predicted dynamic responses of the wheel are utilized within the commercial multi-physics software COMSOL to predict the radiated sound in the frequency domain using the boundary element method (BEM). These can then be converted back to the time domain to give the time varying signals.

Examples of flexible wheelset modes
Examples of flexible wheelset modes

Associated research themes

Railway noise and vibration

Related research groups

Dynamics Group
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