The cause of the white-etching regions outlining certain subsurface cracks in rail-heads was investigated. These cracks known as shells may propagate into “shelly spots,” i.e., deep spalls, usually in the gage corner in rail-heads. Samples containing these regions were metallographically compared to samples with scribed scratches. The white etching regions were found to be stress-induced microstructural changes resulting from the rolling contact fatigue in rail heads.

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