European trains are becoming faster than ever as rail technology improves — a trend that is expected to continue over the next 10 years. However, the increased demand on existing rail infrastructure requires increased safety checks and standards, particularly with respect to the structural integrity of wheel sets and axles. Against this backdrop, the EU-funded project 'Development of novel inspection techniques for train axles' (AXLEINSPECT) worked on new inspection techniques to improve the safety and security of rail cars. In particular, the project team worked on new techniques for solid axles based on phased array inspection technology. It also developed inspection techniques for hollow axles involving probes that exploit ultrasonic and electromagnetic technology. Importantly, the techniques enable axle inspection while the axles are attached to the supporting bogie, saving precious time and resources. To achieve its aims, the project team developed sophisticated probes for inspecting inner and outer surface breaking cracks, as well as automated scanners to deploy the probes. It also conceived a scanning jig to conduct the inspection and developed a bespoke data analysis software. The project then designed an innovated phased array probe based on ultrasonic modelling to enhance crack detection capabilities. Overall, the powerful inspection technology is intended for verifying the structural integrity of train axles in order to improve safety levels. It promises to give Europe a more competitive edge in the field of train inspection, encouraging train use and cost efficiency. AXLEINSPECT's results are now available on the project website.
Train, train axle, safety, rail technology, rail infrastructure, structural integrity, inspection technology