Rail Integrity Research

Since 2017, with funding from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) has been adding naturally occurring rail flaws to the Rail Flaw Library of Associated Defects (RF-LOAD) by acquiring defective rails from the field. This library is available to researchers, railroads, and other interested parties.

The TTC also has the Rail Defect Test Facility (RDTF), a unique state-of-the-art test track where known rail defects are intentionally installed. This facility provides a tool for developers to calibrate and test their rail flaw detection technologies.

Rail Integrity Capabilities

RF-LOAD Rail Library:

  • Approximately 120 samples with service flaws, including 70% transverse defects (TDs), shells, vertical split heads (VSHs), horizontal split heads (HSHs), wheel burns, among others.
  • More than 50 artificial flaws with diameters ranging from 0.25 to 1.25 inches, flaw angles from 5 to 20 degrees, including new, minimal, and some gage wear.

Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) Unit:

  • State-of-the-art PAUT unit available onsite, equipped with 5 transducers and 9 wedges.
  • The PAUT unit features Full Matrix Capture/Total Focusing Method (FMC/TFM) capabilities, known for delivering superior image quality. This offers significant advantages to NDT professionals in solving engineering issues and adding economic value.

Rail Defect Test Facility:

  • Two sections of over 5,440 feet of track.
  • One section is utilized for system evaluations, containing several transverse defects in the railhead (86% TDs and 14% various other flaws such as vertical split heads, horizontal split heads, and bolt hole cracks).
  • The other section is used for technology development, containing a variety of all flaw types, over 100 flaws, both service and artificially induced.
  • The track gauge is between 56 and 57.5 inches and is maintained to FRA Class 3 safety standards, allowing speeds up to 40 MPH.

* For rail integrity inquiries, please email: Alvarez-Reyes.Alejandro@ensco.com