The Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) issued its annual report, complete with a slew of research findings that are must-reads for folks working in track and structures.
Among the key findings from on-track tests in 2018:
- A test of high-strength rails, concluded after 650 MGT, showed that the major degradation modes were gage face wear and rolling contact fatigue. In addition, eight electric flash butt welds fractured. Metallurgical analysis of the rails and welds is underway.
- Twelve thermite welds were treated with an ultrasonic impact device, with more to follow. Lab tests have shown that the treatment increases weld fatigue life. Testing at FAST will determine how the treatment affects in-track performance.
- Engineered polymer composite (EPC) ties from two suppliers are performing well. Two other types of EPC ties installed during the past few years were removed from track due to excessive cracking.
TTCI also conducted research into the effects of double-stack trains on bridge integrity. The conclusion was “that most affected bridges and components are short spans and floor system members of longer spans. In general, long-term fatigue from double-stack traffic will be less of an issue than it is for unit trains such as those carrying coal and grain.”
TTCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, runs a 52-square mile, secure and remote site with specialized laboratories and 48 miles of railroad track available for testing locomotives, vehicles, track components, and signaling devices. TTCI, located northeast of Pueblo, Colorado, originated as the Department of Transportation’s High Speed Ground Test Center as a site to test several hovertrain concepts.
The full 2018 annual report is available here.