The enquiry into the Hatfield rail crash of October
2000 revealed that nearly two years earlier, engineers had
identified a form of fatigue called gauge corner cracking in the
rail which eventually broke and caused the crash.
Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Department of
Physics have developed a technique to detect and measure gauge
corner cracking and other rail defects by using ultrasound
They have just been awarded funding from the Engineering and
Physical Sciences Research Council to develop their discovery from
the lab into a device which can be mounted on all trains.
Where existing track inspection systems are mounted on special
trains limited to speeds of 30 mph, this system is being developed
to work at any speed.
It could enable every train in the country to become part of a
highly sophisticated rail monitoring system routinely examining the
tracks for defects, vastly improving safety and efficient
management of the rail network.
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