Newmark Structural Engineering Laboratory

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

College of Engineering

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Recent and Past Projects
NSEL Reports Series

A Vibration Technique for Measurement of Rail Stress


Principal Investigators: Prof. R. Weaver, Prof. C. Barkan

Research Assistant: Mike Koob

Management of rail stress is an important issue for rail transportation safety and reliability. Track buckles are a major cause of derailments and service disruption. They occur when excessive longitudinal stress develops in a rail and the lateral strength of the ballast is sufficiently weakened. If railroad personnel could monitor stress, they could take appropriate action.

Laboratory testing consisted of vibrating the rail by a small device adjacent to the rail while a laser vibrometer measured the vibrations at points along the rail. The following steps involved conducting tests on the laboratory scan data to find guided modes of the rail, comparing load in lab as determined from scan with known zero load, repeating in the testing bay under an applied load up to 100,000 lb, and field testing at the Transportation Technology Center.

If you are interested in this project or if you have any questions, please contact Prof. R. Weaver at, Mike Koob at, or Christopher Barkan at

  uiuc   The NSEL website is administrated by John Szkolka and Tim Prunkard | Contact NSEL | CEE Home | NEES