Plasma torch treatments of track rails to improve locomotive wheel traction were investigated as a potential substitute for rail sanding. Rolling friction tests were conducted under simulated rail-wheel load conditions at about 200,000 psi contact stress. Although traction was improved significantly in laboratory tests, total power required to significantly improve the coefficient of friction for a diesel electric operation at low speeds appears excessive. Power required at 80 mph is prohibitive. Moreover, safety, maintenance, and mechanical aspects require a considerable amount of further development before such an application can be considered possible on American railroads.

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