On a New Route to Chaos in Railway Dynamics

Hans True, Carsten Nordstroem Jensen

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    Cooperrider's mathematical model of a railway bogie running on a straight track has been thoroughly investigated due to its interesting nonlinear dynamics (see True [1] for a survey). In this article a detailed numerical investigation is made of the dynamics in a speed range, where many solutions exist, but only a couple of which are stable. One of them is a chaotic attractor.

    Cooperrider's bogie model is described in Section 2, and in Section 3 we explain the method of numerical investigation. In Section 4 the results are shown. The main result is that the chaotic attractor is created through a period-doubling cascade of the secondary period in an asymptotically stable quasiperiodic oscillation at decreasing speed. Several quasiperiodic windows were found in the chaotic motion.

    This route to chaos was first described by Franceschini [9], who discovered it in a seven-mode truncation of the plane incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. The problem investigated by Franceschini is a smooth dynamical system in contrast to the dynamics of the Cooperrider truck model. The forcing in the Cooperrider model includes a component, which has the form of a very stiff linear spring with a dead band simulating an elastic impact. The dynamics of the Cooperrider truck is therefore ''non-smooth''.

    The quasiperiodic oscillation is created in a supercritical Neimark bifurcation at higher speeds from an asymmetric unstable periodic oscillation, which gains stability in the bifurcation. The bifurcating quasiperiodic solution is initially unstable, but it gains stability in a saddle-node bifurcation when the branch turns back toward lower speeds.

    The chaotic attractor disappears abruptly in what is conjectured to be a blue sky catastrophe, when the speed decreases further.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNonlinear Dynamics
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)117-129
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

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