Insufficiently released tread brakes apply constant pressure to wheel treads and heat wheels beyond their thermal design limit.
- Risk to track infrastructure due to stuck or partially stuck wheels
- Thermal wheel damage leading to shelling and spalling and potentially cracked wheels
- Inefficiencies in operation due to drag from unnecessary braking
- Safety risk to personnel
Thermal overloading is sometimes visually identifiable by a discolouration of the wheel rim paint, or rim and tread steel faces. When excessive overheating occurs, the steel surfaces go through a process of annealing which makes the metal brittle so that lateral thermal cracks can form in the wheel tread.
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