Department or Program

Physics and Astronomy


The railway train running along a track is one of the most complex dynamic systems in engineering. Its operation has two main features: motion in a train of vehicles, and guidance by adhesion with the track. Kinematic analysis of railway vehicles and wheelsets facilitates the evaluation of the relative motion between the many vehicles in the train and the motion between the train and the track. This thesis explores the kinematics of the dynamic system of the train running along a track using basic physical principles. Engineers can use this understanding to calculate speed limits for established rail lines and calculate angles and distances that are of fundamental interest in the design of new train components and track. This work presents the derivation of the kinematic behavior of railcars and railway wheelsets on both curved and straight track and looks at how these motions change on inclines, or grades. It then explores how the kinematic equations are affected by industrial parameters such as locomotive speed, tonnage, track geometry, and railcar dimensions, resulting in a more complete picture of how individual variables factor into the overall kinematics of a running locomotive. The work ultimately discusses how this parametric analysis of kinematic derivations can shed light on current industrial problems of traffic flow optimization.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Lundblad, Nathan

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 PDF file

Open Access

Available to all.