The majority of catastrophic wheel failures are caused by surface opening fatigue cracks either in the wheel tread or wheel flange areas. The inclined cracks at railway wheel tread are initiated and the cracks are caused by wheel damage-spalling after 60,000 km running. Because the failured railway wheel is reprofiled before regular wheel reprofiling, the maintenance cost for the railway wheel is increased. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the mechanism for introduction of crack. In the present paper, the combined effect on railway wheels of a periodically varying contact pressure and an intermittent thermal braking loading is investigated. To analyze damage cause for railway wheels, the measurements for replica of wheel surface and effect of braking application in field test are carried out. The result shows that the surface cracks in railway wheel tread are due to combination of thermal loading and ratcheting.