The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of contaminants on the tribological behavior of wheel–rail contact. Sand, phosphate, sulfur, and cement were the studied contaminants identified after a Tunisian railway expertise. All friction tests under different contaminants were conducted using pin-on-disk machine, maintaining the same sliding velocity and Hertzian pressure, respectively, at 0.1 m/s and 1000 MPa. All results were compared with reference of two configuration contacts: wheel tread-rail head (clean dry condition) and wheel flange-rail gauge (clean lubricated condition). The main findings of this study could be listed as follows. First, with reference to clean and dry condition tests, sand and cement showed a higher adhesion than phosphate and sulfur. Second, all contaminants increased the adhesion coefficient with reference to clean and lubricated conditions. Third, sulfur generated the lowest energy-wear coefficient yielding a mild wear. Fourth, sand, cement, and phosphate generated a higher energy-wear coefficient yielding an abrasive wear. Finally, the highest energy-wear coefficient was obtained with sand.

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