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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Wheel Failure Investigation Program: Phase 2

Document Series
Technical Reports
Federal Railroad Administration
Report Number
Subject Rolling Stock
Wheel failure, vertical split rims, VSR, shattered rims, broken flange, thermal cracking in flange, plate cracking, thin rim overload, rolling stock

Although rare, broken wheel derailments tend to be more catastrophic than other derailment types as a sudden fracture can occur in service at revenue train speeds. It is very difficult to detect the hidden defects which cause such events, prior to failure. In February 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Office of Railroad Safety (RRS) and Office of Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) established a multi-phase research program tasked with arriving at a better understanding of vertical split rims (VSR) and other wheel failure modes with a focus on failure causes, detection and prevention as well as overall life cycle understanding to help mitigate this risk and establish an approach to minimizing wheel failure-related derailments. This report highlights interim findings during Phase 2 of the project which focused on additional laboratory testing of failed wheels and the evaluation of approaches to analyzing industry data to identify root causes of the failures. 

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Last updated: Friday, December 10, 2021