Various theories have been put forward to explain the phenomenon of creep and its causes, but none of them have proved to be satisfactory. The important theories are briefly discussed in the following subsections.
Wave Motion Theory
According to wave motion theory, wave motion is set up in the resilient track because of moving loads, causing a deflection in the rail under the load. The portion of the rail immediately under the wheel gets slightly depressed due to the wheel load. Therefore, the rails generally have a wavy formation. As the wheels of the train move forward, the depressions also move with them and the previously depressed portion springs back to the original level. This wave motion tends to move the rail forward with the train. The ironing effect of the moving wheels on the wave formed in the rail causes a longitudinal movement of the rail in the direction of traffic resulting in the creep of the rail (Fig. 11.1).
According to percussion theory, creep is developed due to the impact of wheels at the rail end ahead of a joint. As the wheels of the moving train leave the trailing rail at the joint, the rail gets pushed, forward causing it to move longitudinally in the direction of traffic, and that is how creep develops. Though the impact of a single wheel may be nominal, the continuous movement of several of wheels passing over thc joint pushes the facing or landing rail forward, thereby causing creep (Fig. 11.2).
Fig. 11.1 Wave motion theory for development of creep
Fig. 11.2 Percussion theory for development of creep
According to drag theory, the backward thrust of the driving wheels of a locomotive has the tendency to push the rail backwards, while the thrust of the other wheels of the locomotive pushes the rail in the direction in which the locomotive is moving. This results in the longitudinal movement of the rail in the direction of traffic, thereby causing creep.