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Early warnings of the onset of rolling contact fatigue by inspecting the residual stress environment of the railhead

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There is no method available to monitor localised stress levels on in-service railway track, although residual stresses in the rail crown have an important influence on the initiation and evolution of rolling contact fatigue (RCF) cracking. The Maps technology has the ability to meet this need both in the short term with manual inspections and in the longer term with development of an inspection vehicle. This paper presents an update(2) of the Maps measurement of stress levels and distributions in service rail but with a scope limited to specific studies into the early stages of rolling contact fatigue leading to gauge corner cracking.

Data presented includes fine-scale stress distributions on rail cross-sections with RCF cracks together with stress distributions and stress depth profiles on rail heads, indicating both the earliest stages of rolling contact fatigue and established RCF cracking.

The evidence suggests Maps measurement data can act as indicators to the future emergence, presence and criticality of the RCF in rails, and thereby enhance maintenance regimes improving the safe service life of the rail network.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: AEA Technology Rail, E1, Culham Science Centre, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3ED, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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