How Train take turns?

Have you ever wondered how the train takes turns with ease? If you got this doubt, you are in the right spot, check out the concept of coning of wheels in railways.

coning of wheels in railways

In the olden days, there was no conical geometry to the wheels and all the wheels are flat in shape. But due to its bad maintenance and poor turning capability, Engineers Introduced conical geometry to the wheels.


When the surface of the wheels is Inclined about 1 in 20 in the shape of a cone is known as coning of wheels. This coning of wheels in railways regulates the train’s motion to align with the track at turnings and in straight tracks.

So, now you know the definition of coning of wheels but you have to understand the mechanism of coning of wheels in railways while the train is taking a turn on the track.

Mechanism or theory

We know any particle or body which is moving on a circular path will experience centrifugal force. This centrifugal force drives away the body outwards from the path.

So, when the train is trying to move on the turn then the outer wheel has to cover a longer distance than the inner wheel.

If there is a flat wheel, during the turn the outer wheel covers extra distance but the inner wheel is resisted by the track and will get ruptured, wear and tear might happen.

When we use the coning of wheels in railways, due to the sloping of wheels, the extra distance is covered by both inner and outer wheels so that there will be no rupture between the wheels and track.


  • coning of wheels in railways will always keep the train in the central position of the rails.
  • This does not allow the train to move in sideways directions on a straight track.
  • This allows the wheels to move in different directions while taking turns and thereby reduces wear and tear.


  1. It will remove slipping action between wheel and rails
  2. Coning of wheels helps in easy movement of wheels on the track while taking turns.
  3. This reduces friction and rupture between the wheel and the rails.
  4. The service life of wheels will be Increased.


  • The horizontal component of force will act at the inner edge of the rails and cause wear of rail quickly.
  • Due to this horizontal component, the gauge may be widened.
  • For removing these errors, we have to do the tilting of rails.
Fig 1: Coning of wheel and Tilting of rail.

Tilting of rails

To minimize the errors in the coning of wheels, the rails are tilted inwards at an angle of 1 in 20 and this is known as tilting of rails.

The Rails are tilted by either,

  1. Adzing the wooden sleeper.
  2. Providing canted bearing plates.

Advantages of tilting of rails

  • It maintains the gauge properly
  • The life span of the wheel and rails will be increased.
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K Vinay Goud

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