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California college obtains FRA grant for rail defect detection system


Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it awarded a $237,794 research grant to the University of California at San Diego to develop a new rail defect detection system.

The university is creating a prototype designed to use ultrasonic waves and a pulsed laser to inspect rail and identify certain defects undetected by current inspection devices. The FRA plans to install the system on the T-18, the administration’s new automated track inspection vehicle.

Under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Rail Safety Action Plan, the FRA is required to improve rail inspection procedures. The administration’s train accident investigation data shows track defects are the second-leading cause of all accidents.

Last month, the FRA awarded a $96,192 grant to Tuskegee University to study the effect of fatigue on different types of rail steel, and determine how rail fractures develop and spread; and a $166,610 grant to the University of Illinois-Chicago to develop software designed to study derailments, analyze wheel/rail contact in three dimensions and examine rail-car dynamics under high speeds.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/6/2005