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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published the results of an investigation into timber crosstie spike fastener failures on North American railroads.
The FRA sponsored the research, which was conducted by the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. As part of the project, researchers conducted a field evaluation of fastening systems and a modeling effort between September 2019 and June 2020, FRA officials said in a press release.
The field evaluation subjected control and alternative fastening systems to 170 million gross tons of heavy axle-load freight traffic at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. The alternative system showed no component failures, while the control system resulted in multiple broken spikes, FRA officials said.
The results were compared with data from a finite element analysis that provided insight into the key fastener characteristic — tie-plate to tie tamping force — that likely led to reduced spike stress and improved performance by the alternative fastening system, they said.
The full report may be read here.