This paper is the first of a two-part series describing a research project, sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), to study the structural integrity of joint bars. In Part I of this series, observations from field surveys conducted on revenue service track are presented. Automated and visual inspections of rail joints were conducted to identify defective joint bars. Detailed information and measurements were collected at various joint locations.

The survey team consisted of personnel from ENSCO, Inc. and Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), working in cooperation with staff from participating railroads. Part II of this series describes the development of finite element analyses of jointed rail, which is being carried out by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center).

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