R3.109 Rail grinding best practice and condition monitoring acceptance systems

The application of grinding equipment to rail always treads a fine line between removing too little or too much metal. The researchers are developing an algorithm to guide rail grinding to achieve the optimum effect of reconditioning the railhead with the minimal amount of metal removed.

The challenge is to incorporate all the surface defect elements involved,so as to guide the grinding procedure to the best outcome. Aspects of rail to be factored into the researcher’s algorithm include; achievement of optimal rail and wheel profiles, elimination of corrugations and headchecks, and maintenance of rail surface topographies providing for smooth wheel/rail performance and noise reduction.

Project Status:

The project researched the effectiveness of current grinding practices in Australian heavy haul systems through analysing the rail wear data collected for different track configurations and rail profiles. It also studied and compared various non-destructive testing methodologies to quantify the rail defects including rolling contact fatigue (RCF).

The resulting innovation was a new rail grinding quality index incorporating the RCF factors and eddy current based technology to quantify RCF three dimensionally. These outputs will be incorporated into economic decision models to determine optimum grinding quantity and cycle.


Assuming the project achieves its goal of refining the engineering practices used to manage and correct damage to the railhead, this research will bring significant savings to the rail industry. Even small but significant adjustments to grinding practices which can improve accuracy and efficiency could save millions of dollars each year for each rail operator.A guide to achieving Best Practice in Rail Grinding is also expected from the project.