Investigation of Catastrophic Failure of a Premium-Alloy Railroad Rail

by Oscar Orringer, DOT, Transportation Systems Cent, Structures & Dynamics Div, Cambridge, MA, USA,
Pin Tong, DOT, Transportation Systems Cent, Structures & Dynamics Div, Cambridge, MA, USA,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Fracture Problems in the Transportation Industry

Abstract: In November 1983 an Amtrak train derailed at a speed of 72 mph (115 kph) at Woodlawn, Texas (in the vicinity of Marshall, Texas), resulting in four fatalities and twenty-four serious injuries. An accident investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the derailment was caused by fracture of a premium-alloy rail, as a result of an improper repair procedure which had left quench cracks in the rail and also because the track had not been slow-ordered after the repair. The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety requested that the Transportation Systems Center investigate the unusual character of the rail failure while the NTSB was engaged in the accident investigation. The Center's investigation has raised questions about the fracture toughness of premium-alloy rail, the effects of residual stresses on rail fracture sensitivity, and the methods used for quality control testing of production rails.

Subject Headings: Forensic engineering | Rail transportation | Railroad tracks | Failure analysis | Cracking | Disasters | Traffic accidents | Federal government | North America | Texas | United States

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