Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 33–38 | Cite as

Flash Butt Rail Weld Vertical Fractures

  • Daniel H. Stone
  • Hans C. Iwand
  • Joseph Kristan
  • Gregory R. Lehnhoff
Case History---Peer-Reviewed


A number of electric flash butt rail welds fractured vertically through the cross section of the rail. The fractures initiated in the web near the bending neutral plane in a region where high-carbon-content liquid was identified to have been produced during the welding process, resulting in a brittle cementite (ledeburite) network structure that reduced the load carrying capacity of the weld. Fracture initiation near the neutral plane was encouraged due to longitudinal stresses in the continuously welded rail from thermal contraction at colder temperatures. Additionally, residual stresses induced by flash butt welding could have contributed to fracture initiation.


Failure analysis Welding metallurgy Plain-carbon steel 



The authors wish to thank Jim Thompson, Charles Bocchietti III, and Rey Pechek for their help in obtaining, preparing, and conducting analyses on samples for this work. The support of EVRAZ North America is also gratefully acknowledged.


  1. 1.
    American Welding Society, Flash and Upset Welding, Welding Handbook, 9th edn. (American Welding Society, Miami, 2007), pp. 74–105Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M.E. Ashton, R.S. Johnson, A Review of Flash-Welding Research on British Railways, Railroad Rail Welding (AAR, 1983) pp. 260–282Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    American Welding Society, Recommended Practices for the Welding of Rails and Related Rail Components for Use by Rail Vehicles, AWS D15.2/D15.2M:2013 (American Welding Society, 2013)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    AREMA, AREMA Manual for Railway Engineering (Chapt. 4.3.10), Specification for the Quality Assurance of Electric-Flash Butt Welding of Rail (AREMA, 2013)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    AREMA, AREMA Manual for Railway Engineering (Chap. 4.4.1), Field Rail Flaw Identification (AREMA, 2013)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. Marich, M. Vines, M. Baggot, Examination of Big Dipper Rail Failures Initiated at Flash Butt Welds, Railroad Rail Welding (AAR, 1983) pp. 130–159Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    G.F Carpenter, D.E. Sonon, Residual Stresses in Welded Rails, Railroad Rail Welding (AAR, 1983) pp. 155–160Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    AREMA, AREMA Manual for Railway Engineering (Chap. 4.2.1), Specifications for Steel Rails (AREMA, 2013)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Guidelines to Best Practices for Heavy Haul Railway ApplicationsInfrastructure Construction and Maintenance Issues (Chap. 3.2), Rails (International Heavy Haul Association, Virginia Beach, 2009)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    D. Szablewski, J. LoPresti, Peformance of Improved Rail Steels under Heavy-Axle-Loads, Railway Track and Structures (June, 2014), pp. 12–14Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    AMS, Metallography, structures, and phase diagrams, vol. 8, 8th edn. (American Society for Metals, Metals Park, 1973), p. 236Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    D.A. Porter, K.E. Easterling, M.Y. Sherif, Alloy solidification (Chap. 4.3), Phase transformations in metals and alloys (CRC, Boca Raton, 2009), pp. 200–220Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    U. Zerbst, R. Lunden, K.-O. Edel, R.A. Smith, Introduction to the damage tolerance behaviour of railway rails—a review. Eng. Fract. Mech. 76, 2563–2601 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    U. Zerbst, M. Schodel, R. Heyder, Damage tolerance investigations on rails. Eng. Fract. Mech. 76, 2637–2653 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    D. Tawfik, O. Kirstein, P.J. Mutton, W.K. Chiu, Verification of residual stresses in flash-butt-weld rails using neutron diffraction. Physica B 385–386, 894–896 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    D. Tawfik, P.J. Mutton, W.K. Chiu, Experimental and numerical investigations: alleviating tensile residual stresses in flash-butt welds by localised rapid post-weld heat treatment. J. Mater. Process. Technol. 196, 279–291 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel H. Stone
    • 1
  • Hans C. Iwand
    • 1
  • Joseph Kristan
    • 2
  • Gregory R. Lehnhoff
    • 2
  1. 1.Engineering Systems Inc.OmahaUSA
  2. 2.Evraz North AmericaPuebloUSA

Personalised recommendations