Novel materials & non-intrusive inspection for railway rail improvement: Rolling contact fatigue and ‘squat’ defects

Supervisor: David Fletcher

Railway rail life is usually limited by either wear or growth of cracks in the metal. Research into fatigue cracking or rails has led to good understanding of some types of crack growth and these can now be managed or prevented. The ‘squat’ type rail failure in which cracks grow from the rail surface and form a discrete region of damage remain poorly understood, and is a driver of high maintenance costs and rail replacements.

This research will build on existing understanding of fatigue crack growth in rails. Either an experimental or modelling route (or a combination) may be taken to further understanding. It is expected that work would focus on fracture mechanics descriptions of crack growth, response of the rail steel to loading, and steel metallurgies which are better able to resist the loads applied by trains.
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