Techniques of nondestructive testing (NDT) of railroad rail in service are reviewed with the aim of assessing the state of the art and future needs. The contributions to the industry of the primary NDT methods--ultrasonic and magnetic inspection--are noted, and their limitations are examined. The limitations of ultrasonic inspection include ensuring the coupling of the ultrasonic signal into and out of the rail, setting the sensitivity level of the inspection system reproducibly, and relating the amplitude of the return ultrasonic signal to the size of the defect. Magnetic inspection is generally limited to the railhead. The two systems used together provide the most reliable inspection, the magnetic system providing special assistance with defects located near the edges of the railhead. Recommendations for improving rail NDT include greater use of these two complementary systems (now available on only about 50 percent of U.S. rail test cars), greater attention to operator training and characteristics and to the inspection of new rail before installation, and changes in government regulations that will lead to more effective use of rail test cars. In addition, research is needed to relate defect growth to rail service conditions so that realistic decisions can be made about leaving defective rail in use. Developments leading to improved technology are also discussed.

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 22-26
  • Monograph Title: Railroad track and facilities
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00319306
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309030528
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Dec 11 1980 12:00AM