Effect of easement geometry on rail end fillet stress at bolted rail joints for transit track

Yu Qian, Marcus S. Dersch, J. Riley Edwards, Ricardo Jose Quirós-Orozco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Continuously welded rail (CWR) has become more popular than bolted joints because of the advantages of continuous geometry and stiffness and the resulting maintenance savings. Due to a variety of reasons, a considerable number of bolted joints are still in service in rail transit systems. With the high frequency of impact loads, rail at bolted joints are vulnerable to defects, such as cracking and head-web separation that could lead to more drastic failures and consequences (i.e. derailments, etc.). To prolong the service life of joint bars and rails, rail-end easements in the center of the bar were proposed and became standard in some freight rail companies. However, the effectiveness of a joint bar easement largely depends on the geometry of the easement. Therefore, the easement designed for freight track may not be effective for rail transit infrastructure. Further, the effect of easement geometry has not been thoroughly investigated and documented. Therefore, this study investigates the stress distribution at the rail end bolt-hole and upper fillet areas for joint bars with different easement geometries through a parametric analysis performed with Finite Element (FE) modeling. The FE model used in this study was developed specifically to study rail joints and was validated through full-scale laboratory testing. Results from this study show that a deeper easement yields lower contact stresses, while a longer easement does not necessarily reduce the contact stresses with the studied combination of rails and bolted joints for transit track. An easement may reduce the service life of the joint if the geometry of the easement is not properly engineered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-913
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Rail transit track
  • bolt-hole stress
  • bolted rail joints
  • easement
  • fillet stress
  • finite element analysis
  • laboratory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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