Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices. Topic SE-07. Maintenance Planning for Rail Asset Management - Current Practices

As rail infrastructure ages, risks of failure increase. For the rails themselves, risks of fatigue defect development and resulting rail break risks grow exponentially. Some transit system use track circuits which can aid in detection of broken rails. Track circuits can identify some kinds of broken rails but they cannot identify rail defects that lead to rail breaks. Rail transit systems worldwide use ultrasonic rail testing (UT) as a means for inspecting rail to detect internal rail flaws. Eddy current testing and visual inspections are a means used for detecting external flaws. Emerging rail defects must be removed by replacing the rail before they grow to the point where a rail breaks. Non-destructive testing is used in various combinations with visual track inspection on different transit properties. The frequency at which rail is inspected is heavily dependent on a number of factors such as the age of the rail, the amount of traffic, environmental conditions, the characteristics of the rail, the historic defect population, and track support conditions. It is important to understand the interaction of these factors to ensure that rail defects can be effectively located before defects grow to become actual rail breaks. Many transit systems use experience based and regulatory guidelines for scheduling inspections and non-destructive testing. Currently the transit industry does not have uniform methodologies for track inspection to detect rail flaws. The objective of this synthesis is to research and document the current state of the practice of transit systems in the area of rail inspection and maintenance as it relates to preventing rail breaks. Information to be gathered includes but is not limited to: Testing/Inspection Methodologies (i.e. UT), Costs (Labor and Equipment), Testing/Inspection Frequencies, Challenges and Constraints (i.e. maintenance windows), Regulations, Policies and Procedures, and Measures of Effectiveness. The information will be gathered by conducting a Literature Review or background chapter of available technologies and the use of these technologies worldwide, a survey of U.S. transit systems to determine available data, rail defect history, and in–depth case examples of transit agencies who have developed innovative track maintenance practices. The case examples should highlight successes, challenges and lessons learned. Gaps in information and future research needs will also be identified.  


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SE-07

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Delaware, Newark

    Newark, DE  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zarembski, Allan

  • Start Date: 20190524
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01707738
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SE-07
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 10 2019 3:16PM