Light Rail Transit Vehicles

The following formula is a sample computation of the longitudinal force (F) on the track created by a three-car train during emergency braking and using a 0.5 adhesion coefficient leading to a deceleration rate (d) of = 3 m/s2 [6.74 mphps] at an AW3 load of 58,000 kg [about 128,000 pounds] per vehicle. M = 3 cars x 58,000kg/car =174,000 kg F = M × d = 174,000/9.81 x 3 = 53,211 kg [117,464 lb] 2.5.7 Dynamic Vertical Determination of total track force is a complex issue that depends on LRV design features. Typically the vehicle total weight is increased by a factor to include dynamic loading effects. The characteristics of the LRV suspension system should be defined by the manufacturer, who should also provide the dynamic load factor to the track designer. 2.5.7.1 Primary Suspension Primary suspension provides support and damping between the truck frame and the axle journal bearings. It is the first level of support and vibration control for the bearings above the wheel set. 2.5.7.1.1 Spring Rate Spring rate is the force per deflection of the coil or chevron primary springs. This relationship may be non-linear for long travel distances. The equivalent vertical, longitudinal, and lateral spring rates will generally be different. Chevron spring suspensions have high longitudinal stiffness, and the solid axles of trucks so equipped turn less easily through curves in response to rolling radius differentials. The longitudinal stiffness should be considered in track curve and rail head profile design. 2.5.7.1.2 Damping The damping is the “shock absorber” action that provides a force proportional to the velocity of the spring movement. It is designed to minimize oscillation of the springs/mass system at the primary and suspension resonance frequency. 2.5.7.2 Secondary Suspension Secondary suspension supports the carbody on the truck and controls the range of carbody movement with relation to the truck. The suspension and track alignment basically establish the LRV ride quality. The secondary springs can be either steel coils or air bags. 2.5.7.2.1 Damping Damping is optimized for ride quality. With an air bag system, orifices in the air supply to the air bags can adjust the damping. 2.5.7.2.2 Yaw Friction Yaw is the amount of rotation of the truck about a vertical axis with relation to the carbody. With the exception of vehicles that have trucks semi-rigidly attached to a carbody segment (e.g., the Skoda-Inekon streetcar and others), yaw angles as high as 10 to 15 degrees occur routinely along sharply curved track. The truck design and materials used will establish the friction force that restrains truck yaw. High levels of yaw friction contribute to lateral track forces, which can

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produce conditions where the wheel climbs over the rail head. The design of related friction surfaces should be such that the friction factor remains constant as service life increases. 2.5.7.3 Maximum Operating Speed The operating speed limit for all track considers passenger comfort and safety. This criterion should be coordinated with the car design. Civil speed limits for curved track are set by determining the maximum rate of lateral acceleration that passengers can comfortably endure. This is usually in the range of 0.1 g to 0.15 g, which establishes the level of unbalanced superelevation on curves. Speed limits on curves are then established based on the actual and unbalanced superelevation. See Chapter 3, Article 3.2.6, for additional discussion on maximum speeds in curves. Typically, there are no civil speed limits for tangent track other than arbitrary limits due to the characteristics of the trackway and vehicle. Therefore, the maximum speed on tangent track is typically determined by the vehicle mechanical limits, the train control system, and operating rules. The primary suspension stiffness will determine a stability speed limit that could be quite low. 2.5.7.4 Car Natural Frequency Light rail vehicles will have a natural frequency that should be considered during the design of civil structures such as bridges or elevated guideways. Trucks and car bodies each have different natural frequencies that should also be considered. Also, car loaded weight affects the carbody’s natural frequency. Therefore, the vehicle’s natural frequency should be defined at the vehicle’s weight extremes, AW0 and AW3. (AW4 is not considered here since it is a theoretical loading only for design of bridges and virtually certain to never be experienced in service.) If the LRT system already exists and is being extended, there is likely an existing vehicle with natural frequency characteristics that will govern the design of structures. Conversely, if new vehicles are being procured for an existing system, the harmonic characteristics of the existing guideway should be considered in the vehicle procurement specifications. In particular, the bent passage frequency of a car traversing an elevated structure should not be coincident with the car’s secondary suspension resonance frequency. 2.6 TRACK GAUGE, WHEEL GAUGE, AND WHEEL CONTOURS Track gauge, wheel gauge, and wheel contours are some of the most important issues in the relationship between the light rail vehicle and the track. Each of these factors can vary appreciably depending on the characteristics of the light rail system. They are also a dynamic condition due to unavoidable wear of the wheel and rail running surfaces. There are three broad categories in which an LRT system might be placed, each with different ramifications for the track gauge, wheel gauge, and wheel contours: • An existing or legacy system that has been in operation for many years and already has established standards for gauges and wheels. Presuming that performance is satisfactory, changing any of those parameters should only be undertaken with extreme caution after detailed investigation.

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A new system that will share part or all of its tracks with a freight railroad operation. In such cases, there is usually very little opportunity to change anything, and it may be necessary to default to Association of American Railroads (AAR) and AREMA standards. A new system that will be an exclusive operation and have no interaction with freight railroad rolling stock. In this situation, both the trackwork engineer and the vehicle engineer have appreciable latitude to adopt track and wheel gauge and wheel contour standards that can optimize performance and minimize maintenance requirements.

Performance in any of the categories above can be significantly affected by vehicle maintenance issues. If the maintenance plan and budget for the system does not provide for routine wheel truing, the track design may have to accommodate poor curving performance, higher impact forces, and more robust rail support to avoid adverse wear due to poor vehicle maintenance. 2.6.1 Track Gauge The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) standard track gauge is established at 56 ½ inches [1,435 millimeters], measured at 5/8 inch [15.9 mm] below the top of rail. While some light rail systems in North America that evolved from legacy streetcar lines use broad gauge track and no small number of European tramways use narrow gauge track, new light rail transit systems worldwide generally adopt standard railroad track gauge. The use of standard gauge track generally facilitates procurement of track materials and track maintenance equipment, although caution is necessary if circumstances result in wheel gauge different than railroad standards. For additional information on track gauge refer to Chapter 4. 2.6.2 Vehicle Wheel Gauge Vehicle wheel gauge (the distance between defined points on the face of the wheel flange) is always less than track gauge by some freeplay dimension. This is a very important interface issue that must be addressed jointly by vehicle and track designers. Failure to coordinate this issue can lead to interface problems with very costly long-term consequences. This is particularly important if the system will utilize embedded track using groove rails with narrow flangeways. Several LRT systems constructed in the 1980s through 2000 employed AAR standards for wheel contours and gauges, but also employed European groove rails. This resulted in routine interference between the backs of the wheels and the tram of the groove rail, reducing the service life of both. Standard wheel gauge for railroad cars per AREMA Portfolio Plan basic number 793 is established at 55 11/16 inches [1,414.5 millimeters]. However, that dimension, being specified to an arbitrary point on a compound curved surface, is very difficult to measure accurately, particularly as the wheels wear. A more convenient place to measure is between the inside faces of the wheels—a dimension known as the “back-to-back distance,” often abbreviated as “B2B.” The back-to-back distance for AAR 1B narrow flange wheel sets mounted in accordance with AAR rules is 53 3/8 inches [1,355.7 millimeters]. This wheel mounting practice results in 13/16 inch [20.6 mm] of freeplay between track gauge and wheel gauge. This relatively large dimension is

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necessary in railroad work because the acceptable maintenance tolerances for both track and wheel mounting are relatively large. In contrast, rail transit fleet sizes and track miles are both much smaller than they are for railroads, and it is somewhat easier to achieve tighter maintenance tolerances. In addition, for any rail system operating embedded track in city streets, smaller values of freeplay allow for narrower flangeway widths. Because of these factors, it has long been customary for street railway systems to employ smaller values of track gauge/wheel gauge freeplay than railroads. The former American Transit Engineering Association (ATEA), which set standards for both streetcar rolling stock and streetcar track in the first half of the 20th century, recommended that freeplay be set at ¼ inch [6.4 mm], which is 7/16 inch [11.1 mm] less than AAR practice. This reduced freeplay dimension, coupled with the wheel contours recommended by ATEA, resulted in a back-to-back gauge of 54 inches [1372 mm] or more. Legacy systems that still use wheel gauge dimensions based on ATEA practices and any new LRT lines that adopt wheel contours and gauges that differ from AAR practice need to be very careful when procuring new equipment to be certain that their wheel gauge standards are understood by the manufacturers. This is often an issue when procuring maintenance-of-way equipment. Because of the narrow flangeways provided by most European groove rail sections, LRT systems that employ groove rail in embedded track will generally need to adopt a back-to-back wheel gauge that is wider than the AAR standard. The alternative is to either use one of the few groove rail sections that are specifically designed for use with railroad equipment or to narrow the track gauge to something less than standard. Wide groove rails are generally discouraged because even if they comply with ADAAG maximum dimensions for flangeways they are sufficiently wide that the mobility-impaired and bicycling communities will generally object to their use. Narrowed track gauge may be a practical option in tangent track, but may not be viable in curves and is generally not recommended. A secondary benefit of narrowed freeplay is reduced amplitude of any truck hunting. However, if conformal wheel contour is also used, a very small amount of movement might still result in a sufficiently large rolling radius differential to initiate self-centering and possibly hunting. A drawback of smaller values of freeplay between wheel gauge and track gauge is that, assuming tapered wheels, the maximum possible rolling radius differential is reduced. This means that solid axle trucks employing “transit gauge” standard will begin flanging through curves at a higher radius than wheel sets conforming to railroad practice. However, large clearances between wheel and track gauge allows a higher angle of attack at curves, exacerbating flanging. This is not much of an issue on many rail transit lines as their average curve radius is often well below the threshold at which flanging occurs. Track maintenance standards for tight track gauge must be more restrictive, with reduced freeplay, and a minus tolerance of zero is recommended. Track gauge narrowing has been specifically employed at small radius curves to reduce the angle of attack and thus noise and gauge face wear. In any case, no gauge widening should be employed at any curve on transit systems, as such will promote high angle of attack. While gauge widening is common in the United States, such practice hails from the days of three-axle locomotive trucks. 2-42

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TCRP Report 71: Track-Related Research—Volume 3: Exothermic Welding of Heavy Electrical Cables to Rail, Applicability of AREMA Track Recommended Practices for Transit Agencies (prepared under TCRP Project D-7) addresses many issues relevant to the interface between LRT track and LRV wheel sets that are not covered by AREMA. It is strongly recommended that the users of this Handbook also consult TCRP Report 71. 2.6.3 Wheel Profiles Wheel profile is one of the most critical vehicle parameters to consider in track design, since the wheel is the primary interface between the vehicle and the track structure. The wheel profile must be compatible with the rail section(s); the special trackwork components, including switch points and frog flangeways or moveable point sections; the guard rail positions to protect special trackwork components; and restraining rail if used on sharp radius curves. Once accepted, any changes to the wheel profile (especially tread and flange width) must be evaluated by both vehicle and track designers. In more than one instance, the wheel profile has been altered at the last minute by the vehicle side of a project without informing the track designer, resulting in unsatisfactory performance of both the track and vehicle. The first edition of the Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit (also known as TCRP Report 57) illustrated a dozen different wheel contours that were in use on North American light rail lines at the time. The differences were startling, and there was seemingly no consistency. Several designs had their origins in AAR practice, while others could be traced back to ATEA designs. Still others resembled wheels used on some European railway systems, and their selection may have been influenced by the overseas suppliers of the LRVs and/or track materials. Looking at those wheel designs in light of current understanding of rail/wheel mechanics, only two or three have sufficient merit to warrant consideration for any new light rail rolling stock. Rather than possibly misleading readers into thinking all those wheel designs are all recommended designs, they have been omitted from this second edition in favor of discussions of characteristics that can be found in a good wheel design. Parties with an interest in some of these other wheel contours can consult TCRP Report 57 for additional information, although it must be understood that some systems may have changed their wheel contour since TCRP Report 57 was published. 2.6.3.1 AAR-1B Wheel Contour The Association of American Railroads (AAR) promulgates two standards for wheel contours on rolling stock. The AAR-1B wide flange contour is generally of no interest to transit work. The AAR-1B narrow flange contour is used on locomotives, railroad passenger cars, and some freight equipment. Both versions of the AAR 1B wheel were adopted as their standards during the 1990s, replacing much older designs that had been AAR’s standards since the 1920s. AAR-1B wheels incorporate a compound curve radius at the throat between the flange and the wheel tread. This is designed to conform to similar radii on the heads of AREMA standard rail sections. This conformal contact facilitates curving by maximizing the rolling radius differential between wheels on the same axle and also promotes self-centering of wheel sets in tangent track. The conformal contact at curves may also reduce contact stresses and thus wear. The AAR’s former wheel design, which is still used by several LRT systems, has a single radius in the throat. The wheel profile is considered to be conformed to the rail profile if the gap between the

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wheel and rail profile is less than 0.5 millimeters [0.02 inches] at the center of the rail (in singlepoint contact) or at the gauge corner (in two-point contact). Both the old and current AAR wheel designs incorporate a 1:20 taper on the wheel tread so as to facilitate truck centering on tangent track and self steering on slight curves. The AAR-1B wheel profile is an evolution from a design first proposed by Professor Herman Heumann (1878–1967), a German railway engineer who did pioneering work in the field of wheelrail contact mechanics. Some elements of Professor Heumann’s work have been superseded by subsequent research (notably his endorsement of a 70-degree flange angle), but that is the result of better analytical methods and changes in the demands placed on the rail wheel interface rather than any flaws in his theories. Tests by the AAR at the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado, have shown that the AAR-1B wheel profile provides • • A lower lateral-over-vertical (L/V) load ratio in a 764-foot [233-meter] radius curve than the previous AAR non-conformal wheel. A lower rolling resistance than the previous AAR profile. Arguably, this is less important in a transit vehicle, which might have 66% or even 100% of its axles powered, versus a locomotive-hauled freight train, which might have only 5% of the axles powered, but it does have some ramifications for life cycle energy and maintenance costs. Lower critical hunting speeds than the old AAR wheel profile. This means that, all other things being equal, trucks equipped with the AAR-1B wheel will commence hunting at a lower speed than the AAR’s old non-conformal wheel. The hunting speed is primarily a function of wheel tread taper at the center of the tread running surface.

The last bullet point is significant, and some discussion is appropriate. “Hunting” is the tendency of a wheel set with tapered wheels to uncontrollably oscillate from flange to flange while seeking to center on the track with a consistent rolling radius on each wheel. This is a dynamic condition, highly sensitive to the natural frequency of the truck design as well as the presence or absence of dampers (e.g., shock absorbers) to control truck rotation (yaw). With a conformal wheel, compared to a wheel having either a straight taper leading to a small flange/tread radius (or even no taper in the case of a cylindrical wheel), a smaller amount of lateral movement is required to create an appreciable difference in rolling radius, thereby initiating self-centering action. Overcompensation could then initiate hunting behavior at certain speeds. Informal observations suggest that “worn wheel” designs similar to the AAR-1B—which was designed for relatively large values of gauge freeplay per freight railroad standards—may on some vehicles and truck designs hunt excessively when freeplay is tightened down to transit standards. This is likely due to running closer to the flange throat, where the taper becomes large. The overall system needs to be proportioned so that with the wheel set centered on tangent track there will be no routine contact between the gauge corner radius in the wheel flange throat and the crown radius of the rail head. This is an area that requires additional research. Wheel tread wear will tend to reduce the taper from the new condition. In the extreme case, when maintenance intervals are too long or wheel truing is simply non-existent, excessive wear of the wheel will produce a “false flange”—a relatively unworn zone on the outside of the wheel 2-44