A neutron diffraction investigation of residual stresses in rail ends after severe deformation of rail surfaces
Insulated rail joints (IRJs) are a primary component of the rail track safety and signalling systems. Rails are supported by two fishplates which are fastened by bolts and nuts and, with the support of sleepers and track ballast, form an integrated assembly. IRJ failure can result from progressive defects, the propagation of which is influenced by residual stresses in the rail. Residual stresses change significantly during service due to the complex deformation and damage effects associated with wheel rolling, sliding and impact. IRJ failures can occur when metal flows over the insulated rail gap (typically 6-8 mm width), breaks the electrically isolated section of track and results in malfunction of the track signalling system.