2022 Heavy Haul Session


Mitigating Track Buckling from Heavy Train Braking using Automated Alerts

Kyle Mulligan

Kyle Mulligan
CP Rail

Track buckling factors continue to present risks that may lead to catastrophic derailments in modern railways. Prevention and study of these factors has been an ongoing process critical for safer operations. In particular, compressive forces can significantly increase with increases in rail temperature. These increases in rail temperature are generally closely tied to ambient temperature. Heat transfers from freight car wheels can also cause significant increases during heavy air-braking events for trains descending heavy and mountain grades. Consecutive trains at these locations further amplifies this risk when the track is not permitted time to cool.

Modern railways have access to real-time data and tracking that allows for the implementation of automated mitigating measures. Automated alerts can drive operations to reduce the risk due to air braking of consecutive trains by taking into account train location, track grade, ambient temperature, and train tonnage. This approach focuses on allowing sufficient train movement spacing to allow the rail temperature to recover.

This presentation will discuss the study of track buckling risks formed by heat transfer from trains descending heavy and mountain grades, generated by heavy braking and high tonnage. It will also discuss a strategy for implementing automated alerts using existing real-time railway data to act as a mitigating measure for consecutive trains such that the respective track sections are given time to cool and ultimately preventing track buckling.