Thermal imaging of railways to identify track sections prone to buckling

L. Chapman*, J. E. Thornes, S. P. White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


A technique is described to measure the spatial variation of rail temperatures with a view to highlighting sections of railway track prone to buckling in extreme temperatures. Thermal maps of a section of test track were produced by equipping a personnel carrier with a thermal imager and global positioning system (GPS). Temperature readings were taken using the rusted web (side) of the rail so that emissivity could be assumed constant. The results indicate that much of the spatial variation in daytime rail temperature can be explained by shading effects, with exposed sections of track on embankments being consistently the warmest and, therefore, the most prone to buckling. It is envisaged that the technique could be used to forecast the problem areas and will ultimately provide useful verification data for spatial modelling studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • Rail buckling
  • Rail microclimate
  • Thermal imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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