Head Checks and the Useful Life of Rails
Major, Zoltán
Horváth, Róbert
Horvát, Ferenc

How to Cite

Major Z., Horváth R., Horvát F., 2023, Head Checks and the Useful Life of Rails, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 107, 295-300.


Transport systems, including railways, are an important part of everyday life in modern societies. Whether it is passenger or freight transport, railways are an environmentally friendly solution with their robust throughput capacity and modern electrified lines. The significant changes in transport needs over the last fifty years have partly modified its role, increasing both track speed and axle load. Head Checks (HC) appeared on the MÁV (Hungarian Railway Corporation) network in the early 2010s. This phenomenon had been an unknown problem in Hungary before. Several cases abroad (e.g., a train derailment at Hatfield station in 2000 with four fatalities) have highlighted the extreme danger of this phenomenon. Materials and railway track experts at Széchenyi University have been working on the subject of HC defects in rail heads for several years. The results of research work carried out for MÁV Zrt. form the base of this article. The novelty of this article is the complexity consideration. Not only the structural changes of the rail material were investigated, but also the time/traffic load-dependent crack evolution was mathematically described. Based on the strategy outlined in the report of the research work, MÁV has taken up the fight against HC cracks, which were initially proliferating. The modern laboratory test in this article is based on the tests of Csizmazia and Horvát (2014). The stresses causing damage were investigated previously by Horváth and Major (2023). The economic analysis is based on Róbert Horváth's own calculation results.