Redistribution of Carbon Atoms in Differentially Quenched Rail on Prolonged Operation

V. E. Gromov, A. A. Yur’ev, Yu F. Ivanov, V. A. Grishunin, S. V. Konovalov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The change in structure, phase composition, and defect substructure in the head of differentially quenched rail after the passage of gross traffic amounting to 691.8 million t is investigated over the central axis, at different distances from the top surface, by means of transmission electron microscopy. The results confirm that prolonged rail operation is accompanied by two simultaneous processes that modify the structure and phase composition of the plate-pearlite colonies: cutting of the cementite plates; and solution of the cementite plates. The first process involves cutting of the carbide particles and removal of their fragments, accompanied simply by change in their linear dimensions and morphology. The second process involves the extraction of carbon atoms from the crystal lattice of cementite by dislocations. That permits phase transformation of the metal in the rail, which is associated with marked relaxation of the mean binding energy of the carbon atoms at dislocations (0.6 eV) and at iron atoms in the cementite lattice (0.4 eV). The stages in the transformation of the cementite plates are as follows: the plates are wrapped in slipping dislocations, with subsequent splitting into slightly disoriented fragments; the slipping dislocations from the ferrite lattice penetrate into the cementite lattice; and the cementite dissolves with the formation of nanoparticles. The cementite nanoparticles are present in the ferrite matrix as a result of their transfer in the course of dislocational slip. On the basis of equations from materials physics and X-ray structural data, the content of carbon atoms at structural elements of the rail steel is assessed. It is found that prolonged rail operation is accompanied by significant redistribution of the carbon atoms in the surface layer. In the initial state, most of the carbon atoms are concentrated in cementite particles. After prolonged rail operation, the carbon atoms and cementite particles are located at defects in the steel’s crystalline structure (dislocations, grain and subgrain boundaries). In the surface layer of the steel, carbon atoms are also observed in the crystal lattice based on α iron.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-356
Number of pages5
JournalSteel in Translation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • carbide nanoparticles
  • carbon atoms
  • cementite disintegration
  • differentially quenched rail
  • prolonged operation
  • redistribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Redistribution of Carbon Atoms in Differentially Quenched Rail on Prolonged Operation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this