What is Sun Kink in the Rails? What Problems Do Sun Kinks Cause?

What is Sun Kink in the Rails? What Problems Do Sun Kinks Cause?

What is Sun Kink in the Rails?

A sun kink is a buckle in a railroad track that can be caused by extremely hot weather, potentially leading to a derailment.

Sun kinks are especially dangerous as they develop without warning and can cause trains to become off course or unbalanced if not detected quickly enough.

To prevent sun kinks and ensure the safety of train operations, railroads must regularly inspect their tracks in warm weather to look for any signs of buckles or abnormalities.

They should also take measures such as slowing down train speeds, avoiding abrupt stops or changes in direction, and reducing the number of cars attached to the trains when the temperature rises above certain levels.

How Common Are Sun Kinks?

Sun kinks are a relatively common issue in the rail transportation industry, causing an average of 50 derailments per year over 40 years.

This amounts to more than 2,100 train derailments in the United States alone due to sun kinks, and as a result, they are considered one of the most prevalent issues that railway operators must contend with.

Sun kinks occur when a combination of heat and high winds cause the steel rails to expand unevenly and buckle from the top down – creating a distinctive “kink” that can cause dangerous rail misalignments if not corrected promptly.

Due to their prevalence, railway operators must remain vigilant for any signs of this phenomenon and take preventive measures to reduce incidents of sun kinks on their tracks.

Why Don’t The Rails Buckle In Hot Countries?

Railways in hot countries are designed to withstand high temperatures by pre-stressing them during construction, helping them to resist expansion and contraction due to temperature changes.

This means that even as ambient air temperature rises, the rails will not buckle – with train journeys continuing uninterrupted. The pre-stressed rails can absorb hotter temperatures than other railway tracks, allowing passengers to travel safely even in the hottest weather conditions.

Some European railways are now designed for similar tolerance levels to increase reliability and reduce delays caused by heat-related issues.

What Problems Do Sun Kinks Cause?

Sun kinks, also known as track buckles, occur when excessive tensile stress in cold weather or compressive stress due to extreme heat causes rail malformations. These rail deformations can lead to train derailments if not addressed promptly.

Warped tracks, weakened ties, and lack of proper ballast support can make the rails vulnerable to sun kink damage.

Regular inspection and maintenance are necessary to prevent such damage to ensure that the track stays well-maintained and safe for operation.

Poor-quality rails used in trackwork may also be more susceptible to sun kinks, so they should be carefully inspected before installation.

Why Do They Put Stones Under Train Tracks?

Putting stones under train tracks is essential to rail infrastructure, as they serve various important functions.

Firstly, they act as a load-bearing layer to support the weight of the railroad ties and absorb the shock when trains pass over them.

Secondly, they provide effective water drainage away from the tracks and help prevent ground erosion that could compromise their structural integrity.

Lastly, they also maintain vegetation control since improper growth near the track can decrease visibility and cause derailment. All in all, ballast provides stability and ensures a safe journey for passengers riding on the rails.

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