Residual stress effects in railroad rail fatigue Conference Paper uri icon


  • Subsurface, and thus invisible, rail-head fatigue defects are sometimes the first link in a chain of events leading to train derailment. This paper presents critical-plane fatigue analyses of the head region of railroad rail. Particular attention is given to assessing the role of residual stresses in the fatigue crack nucleation process. The results of the analyses suggest that nucleation of rail-head defects occurs preferentially in a material region below the running surface of the rail: a fact borne out by field observations. Analytically, subsurface nucleation can be explained by the presence of subsurface tensile residual stresses which counterbalance surficial compressive residual stresses. Based on the results from the fatigue study, an analysis of rail grinding is discussed in the context of preventing the formation of subsurface rail-head fatigue defects.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Fry, G. T., Jones, H. L., & Jones, S. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Fry, GT||Jones, HL||Jones, SL

publication date

  • January 1999