Monitoring bolt tightness of rail joints using axle box acceleration measurements

M Oregui, S. Li, Alfredo Nunez, Z Li, R Carroll, RPBJ Dollevoet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific

21 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Rail joints are a weak component in railway tracks because of the large impact and wheel-rail contact forces. Every train passage contributes to the deterioration of rail joints, causing visible (e.g. battered rails) and invisible (e.g. loose bolts) damages. The invisible damage cannot be detected by the commonly performed visual inspection, which is labor intensive, unreliable, intrusive and unsafe. In this paper, a vehicle-borne monitoring system is used to automatically detect and assess the tightness condition of bolts at rail joints. The monitoring method is developed based on field Axle Box Acceleration (ABA) measurements using different bolt tightness conditions. The suitability of the method is assessed by bolt tightness prediction and verification of a set of rail joints in the tram network of Sheffield, United Kingdom. The results show that ABA system can be employed to monitor bolt tightness conditions at rail joints.With this information better planning for selective preventive maintenance actions can be taken over rail joints.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalStructural Control and Health Monitoring: the bulletin of ACS
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • bolt tightness
  • rail joint
  • axle box acceleration measurements
  • health condition monitoring
  • characteristic frequency

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