The need to improve safety and reduce costs means that new specifications are being imposed on railway wheel wear. These mean that more durable wheel steels are required. In order to develop such materials, a greater understanding is needed of the wear mechanisms and transitions occurring in wheel steels. In this work, twin-disc wear testing has been carried out to study the wear characteristics of R8T railway wheel steel. The results have indicated that, compared with previous wheel steels, R8T offers greater wear resistance. Three wear regimes were identified; mild, severe, and catastrophic. Wear rates were seen to increase steadily initially and then to level off, before increasing rapidly as the severity of the contact conditions increased. This paper is concerned with the form of the data and the reasons for the transitions. Analysis of the contact conditions indicated that the first transition in the wear rate was caused by the change from partial slip to full slip conditions at the disc interface. Temperature calculations for the contact showed that the large increase in wear rates seen at the second wear transition may result from a thermally induced reduction in yield strength and other material properties. This improved understanding will help in progressing towards the aim of eventually attaining a wear modelling methodology reliant on material properties rather than wear constants derived from testing
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