The lateral stability of railroad vehicles travelling on tangent tracks is one of the important problems that has been the subject of extensive research since the nineteenth century. Early detailed studies of this problem in the twentieth century are the work of Carter and Rocard on the stability of locomotives. The linear theory for the lateral stability analysis has been extensively used in the past and can give good results under certain operating conditions. In this paper, the results obtained using a linear stability analysis are compared with the results obtained using a general nonlinear multibody methodology. In the linear stability analysis, the sources of the instability are investigated using Liapunov’s linear theory and the eigenvalue analysis for a simple wheelset model on a tangent track. The effects of the stiffness of the primary and secondary suspensions on the stability results are investigated. The results obtained for the simple model using the linear approach are compared with the results obtained using a new nonlinear multibody based constrained wheel/rail contact formulation. This comparative numerical study can be used to validate the use of the constrained wheel/rail contact formulation in the study of lateral stability. Similar studies can be used in the future to define the limitations of the linear theory under general operating conditions.

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