Thermal forces and broken rails

Rail steel has a considerably higher carbon content (0.7-0.8%), and hence is more brittle than mild steel. A variety of stress concentrating defects in rails, combined with the alternating loads from the passage of traffic, can produce slowly propagating fatigue crack. When this crack attains a critical size it causes an almost instantaneous brittle fracture…

CWR stress transition zone

(prelude to a new PWI Journal article) A stress transition zone is any section of continuous welded rails (CWR) where the thermal force is variable, the longitudinal resistance (p) is active and rail movement occurs due to rail temperature variations. The most common (and well known) location of the stress transition zone is at the…

A day in the life of a jointed track

ΔG = αLΔT°. Free expansion For a free thermal expansion jointed track the rails expand and contract freely and the track components do not provide any resistance to oppose this rail length variation. The joint gap varies linearly relative to the rail temperature. The figure below presents the joint gap variation for a jointed track formed…

When a 20 m rail is 20 m long?

Perhaps I’m splitting hairs here, but it is a fair question to ask: When a 20 m rail is 20 m long? Please, have your say and feel free to comment below, after voting! And this is not a trap question like “Which weighs more: 1 kg of steel rail or 1 kg of feathers?”. Later edit: By…

Jointed track breathing

Rail breathing Normally on the railway track the rail is fixed through a set of superstructure elements (fastenings, sleepers, ballast) that opposes the rail tendency to expand or contract due to temperature variations. This fixation is achieved through friction forces and once the rail axial forces are above these friction forces, the rail will start…

Joint Closure Temperature

Note: This article presents the Joint Closure Temperature (JCT) for free thermal expansion (FTE) track superstructure ; it is directly related and should be read in conjunction with the following articles: When can a rail be called long? presenting the definition of the concepts long rail and short rail, from thermal behaviour perspective. Track longitudinal resistance presenting the two…