The dynamic response of rail vehicles is affected by parameters such as wheel-rail geometry, track gage, and axle load. Variations in these parameters, as a rail vehicle moves down the track, can cause instabilities that are related to parametrically excited behavior. This paper reports on the use of Floquet Theory to predict the stability and instability regions for a single wheelset subjected to harmonic variations in wheel-rail geometry, track gage and axle load. Time studies showing the response of a wheelset to various initial conditions are also included. The results show that harmonic variations in the wheel-rail geometry can influence the behavior of a wheelset significantly. The system is especially susceptible to variations in conicity. Time history studies show that the response is dependent on initial conditions, the amount of variations and the magnitude of the excitation frequency.

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