Heat Effects on Rail

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jul 19 08:50:46 EDT 2013

I'm not a metallurgist either, but it would affect every train. Back in the excursion era, it was called the heat order, issued when the temperature was going over 85, if I recall correctly. The heat order brought our speeds down to no more than 35 mph, again if I recall correctly, and wreaked havoc with schedules.

My own person experience was on a "sun kink" on West Virginia Central some years back. It was not an overly hot day, maybe in the low 80s, and we had no trouble going over the spot when we were headed eastbound. But about two hours later on return, the kink was well in place on the curve, I slowed the train to 5 mph, and you could see how bad the rail had kinked in the curve, we banged through the kink, it felt like it was going to jerk us off the track, but it was fine.

I'd think it would be worse with welded rail, due to the lesser numbers of expansion joints over the same space.

Ken Miller

On Jul 19, 2013, at 7:12 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:

> The last few days have brought warnings of commuter trains having to reduce speed because of the heat effects on the rails. Are all trains affected? Is the condition worse with modern continuous rail or has it always been the case regardless of the type of rail. I would suspect so, but then I'm no metal expert (I would use the long word starting with "metal," but my speller isn't working this morning).~~Bernie Hylton

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