Assessment of Fatigue Cracks in Rails

G. Kotsikos, Marzio Grasso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The fatigue behaviour of cracks at the foot region of a rail subjected to bending load has been investigated. Depending on the position of initiation of a small semi-elliptical surface crack in a rail, the crack front changes shape during propagation to failure due to the large variation of the stress intensity factor from point to point round the crack front due to differences in the local stress field as each point round the crack front lies at different distances from the neutral axis of the rail. This condition implies a variable crack growth rate that transforms the crack front shape during fatigue crack propagation. SIF values have been estimated by means of both the finite element method and analytical solutions derived for a semi-elliptical crack in a finite rectangular cross-section beam. The SIF value predictions obtained with the two methods show good agreement suggesting that the analytical solutions can be used for a rapid assessment of the severity of a flaw in a rail. A predictive model for crack growth has been derived for an initial small crack at an initiation point at the foot/web corner of a rail tested under four point bending fatigue in the laboratory, showing a reasonably good prediction of both the shape and size of the crack at failure when compared with experiment
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1395-1402
    Number of pages8
    JournalProcedia-Social and Behavioral Scineces
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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