Fracture of a Railroad Rail Related to a Train Derailment
On 15 March 2000, a National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles derailed in Carbondale, KS. After the initial on-scene investigation, 12 pieces of rail were sent to the materials laboratory for examination. Ten of them were from the point of derailment (POD). A vertical crack was observed in the head of the rail (vertical split head). The crack was at least 233 in. (591 cm) long, continuing through the entire lengths of most pieces recovered from the POD. The vertical fracture surface had features consistent with overstress fracture with short-term exposure to an oxygen-rich environment. Fracture features emanated from longitudinally-aligned inclusions rich in aluminum.