TC 24

Technical Commitee - Integrity of Railway Structures


Introduction to ESIS Technical Committee 24 (TC24)

Since the early days of the 19th century, when Europe, America and other parts of the world began to lay dense nets of rails, railway technology has been an important driving force for technological progress. For example, in the beginning, common wooden parts had to be replaced by iron components which were able to carry loads which in magnitude as well as in characteristics were completely unknown at that time.
The rapid progress had, however, also a price: Breaking railway axles, wheels and rails as well as exploding pressure vessels caused accidents with disastrous consequences for life and property. Actually, it were those accidents which stimulated the development of the new research field of fatigue, with the SN curve concept of August Wohler and others being the most influential item of material characterisation.

The problems of the early days of railway technology were overcome long ago. However, more recent innovations, such as high-speed traffic and higher axle loads, have given rise to quite new challenges in respect of almost every railway component. In order to avoid incalculable risks, the application of damage tolerance concepts based on fracture mechanics is increasingly becoming an essential aspect of structural integrity of rails as well as of rolling stock.

TC24 was established in 2004 under the chair of Prof. Schwalbe, after an initial series of successfull meetings. From 2006 to 2010, the chairmen were then Prof. R. Smith and Prof. U. Zerbst. Since 2010, the chairman is Prof. S. Beretta.

TC24 has organized a series of successfull workshops and meetings, which have led to the preparation of three Special Issues:

  • "Application of Fracture Mechanics to Railway Components", edited by U. Zerbst and K. Madler, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Vol. 72 (2005);
  • "Fatigue and Damage Tolerance of Railway Rails", edited by U. Zerbst R. Heyder and L. Girardi, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Vol. 76 (2009);
  • "Damage Tolerance of Railway Axles", edited by S. Beretta and U. Zerbst, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Vol. 78 (2011).
  • "Railway Axles: Advances in Fatigue Design and Maintenance", edited by S. Beretta, International Journal of Fatigue, Vol. 86 (2016)

This web-page contains the material presented during the last meetings, which reflects the present activity of the TC. Minutes of the previous meetings can be found at:

The aim of ESIS TC24 is to provide a forum for research workers who deal with structural integrity problems in modern railway system.

Next meeting:
Wittenberge 2017

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