Probability of instant rail break induced by wheel–rail impact loading using field test data
Journal article, 2022

The probability of an instant rail break, initiated at a single pre-existing rail foot crack due to a severe wheel impact loading, is predicted using statistical methods and a time-domain model for the simulation of dynamic vehicle–track interaction. A linear elastic fracture mechanics approach is employed to calculate the stress intensity at the crack in a continuously welded rail subjected to combined bending and temperature loading. Based on long-term field measurements in a wayside wheel load detector, a three-parameter probability distribution of the dynamic wheel load is determined. For a faster numerical assessment of the probability of failure, a thin plate spline regression is implemented to develop a meta-model of the performance function quantifying the stress intensity at the crack. The methodology is demonstrated by investigating the influence of initial crack length, fracture toughness and rail temperature difference on the risk for an instant rail break.

dynamic vehicle–track interaction

Wheel–rail impact loads

thin plate spline

rail break probability

subset simulation algorithm


Jens Nielsen

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Thomas Abrahamsson

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Anders Ekberg

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

International Journal of Rail Transportation

2324-8378 (ISSN) 2324-8386 (eISSN)

Vol. 10 1 1-23

Research into enhanced track and switch and crossing system 2 (In2Track-2)

Swedish Transport Administration, 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/826255), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Infrastructure Engineering

Vehicle Engineering



More information

Latest update