Rail Wear Limit Studies

TTCI investigated two methods of determining rail structural integrity:

  • The Fracture Mechanics (FM) method, which presumes a pre-existing defect and determines MGT to fracture; suggesting UT inspection intervals.
  • The Strength of Materials (SoM) method, which quantifies internal stresses and suggests fatigue limits.

Crack growth test results and FM analysis using the FM approach suggests a large variability in MGT to fracture, endorsing railroad service experience. This approach is not recommended.

The SoM approach suggests railhead wear limits similar to those generally adopted by railroads; depending on material endurance limit and independent of head side wear. This method is being pursued with fatigue tests of a spectrum of rail materials, as well as possible service stress measurements.

Harry Tournay

Harry Tournay
Senior Scientist II