R3.105 Rail Squat Strategies

Rail squats are a type of metal fatigue resulting from wheel impacts on the railhead which ‘bruise’ the steel and over time lead to degradation of the track. Often the squat will grow under the surface as a hidden damage zone evidenced by a white etching zone at the railhead. Squats will further deteriorate the rail metal through the effects of water and weather. If left unmanaged, squats can lead to rail degradation and even fracture.

Current practice uses grinding equipment to remove squats from the track and restore a workable rail surface. In severe cases of squat damage,extra materials are welded back to replace missing metal. These repair methods are labour intensive and do not guarantee the squat will not redevelop.

Project Status:

The purpose of this project was to identify and examine previously unknown features of the rail squat, its occurrence, growth, characteristics, and impact on the rail steel and to investigate possible means for controlling the problem.


This project will develop a greater level of understanding of rail squat formation, research the changes squats bring to the metal structures and investigate potential methods of prevention. This knowledge may suggest methods to reduce rail squat formation thereby reducing maintenance costs and extending rail life.