The Ultimate Guide to ASCE 85 Rail

ASCE 85 rail is a type of railway rail that is widely used in North America. It is an important component of railway systems, providing the foundation for the movement of freight and passengers.

ASCE 85 rail has a long history of development, dating back to the early days of rail transportation in the United States. It was originally designed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in the late 19th century as part of an effort to standardize rail dimensions and properties. Since then, ASCE 85 rail has undergone numerous improvements and refinements to meet the evolving demands of the rail industry.

The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of ASCE 85 rail, including its specifications, applications, and maintenance practices. Whether you are a railway engineer, maintenance worker, or simply someone interested in the technical aspects of rail transportation, this article will give you a thorough understanding of this important rail type.

ASCE 85 Rail Specifications

ASCE 85 rail has a specific set of specifications that must be met in order to ensure its proper performance and safety in railway systems. These specifications cover the physical properties, chemical composition, and manufacturing standards of the rail.

Dimensions and Physical Properties of ASCE 85 Rail

The ASCE 85 rail has a standard weight of 85 pounds per yard (42.2 kg/m), with a section modulus of 17.7 in^3 (290 cm^3) and a moment of inertia of 141.1 in^4 (2315 cm^4). It has a radius of gyration of 5.32 in (13.5 cm) and a cross-sectional geometry that is carefully designed to ensure proper performance in railway systems. Tolerances for the dimensions and physical properties of the rail are also specified to ensure consistency across different manufacturers.

Chemical Composition and Mechanical Properties of ASCE 85 Rail

The chemical composition of ASCE 85 rail typically includes a low carbon content and small amounts of alloying elements such as manganese, silicon, and copper. The rail must also meet specific mechanical properties, including tensile and yield strength, elongation, reduction of area, hardness, impact resistance, and fatigue life. These properties are carefully tested during the manufacturing process to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.

Standards and Regulations Governing the Manufacture and Testing of ASCE 85 Rail

ASCE 85 rail is manufactured according to strict standards and regulations set forth by industry organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). These organizations specify the manufacturing processes, testing procedures, and quality control measures that must be followed in order to ensure the proper performance and safety of the rail in railway systems.

Applications of ASCE 85 Rail

ASCE 85 rail has a wide range of applications in railway systems, including track construction, rail fastening, and load capacity considerations. Understanding these applications is crucial for anyone involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of railway systems that utilize this rail type.

Track Construction and Layout using ASCE 85 Rail

The ASCE 85 rail is commonly used for the construction of mainline and branchline tracks. The rails are typically connected using joint bars and splice bars to create continuous rail sections of the desired length. The rail sections are then laid on ties and ballast according to a specific track layout that takes into account the curvature and elevation of the track alignment.

Types of Rail Fasteners and Joint Bars

Various types of rail fasteners and joint bars are used to connect ASCE 85 rail sections and maintain their alignment and stability. These include bolted rail clips, rail anchors, and elastic rail fastenings. Joint bars and splice bars are also used to connect different rail sections and ensure a smooth and continuous track alignment.

Load Capacity and Performance of ASCE 85 Rail

ASCE 85 rail is designed to withstand a maximum axle load and wheel load rating, as well as dynamic and static loading conditions. The rail must also possess sufficient impact and fatigue resistance to ensure safe and reliable performance over time. Compatibility and interoperability with other rail types, including transition rails and rails for special applications such as switch points, guard rails, and crane rails, are also important considerations.

Maintenance of ASCE 85 Rail

Maintenance of ASCE 85 rail is critical for ensuring the safe and reliable operation of railway systems. The maintenance of the rail includes regular inspections and detection of defects, remedial actions for various types of defects, rail grinding and maintenance, and rail replacement considerations.

Inspection and Detection of Defects in ASCE 85 Rail

Visual inspections and ultrasonic testing are typically performed to detect defects in the rail. Rail flaw detection technology and equipment are also used to identify defects such as head wear, web defects, and bolt hole cracks. Remedial actions, including welding, replacement, and grinding, are performed depending on the type and severity of the defect.

Rail Grinding and Maintenance Practices for ASCE 85 Rail

Rail grinding is an important maintenance practice that improves the rail’s surface condition and extends its fatigue life. Different types of rail grinding machines and abrasives are used based on the rail’s material and wear condition. The frequency and criteria for rail grinding are determined by factors such as the rail’s wear rate and geometry.

Life Cycle and Replacement of ASCE 85 Rail

Factors such as rail wear and fatigue life determine the rail’s life cycle and replacement criteria. The decision to replace the rail is based on the rail’s wear condition, inspection results, and other factors. Environmental and sustainability considerations, such as rail recycling, are also important factors in the decision-making process.


In conclusion, ASCE 85 rail plays a critical role in railway systems due to its high load capacity, performance, and durability. This article has discussed the ASCE 85 rail specifications, including its dimensions, physical properties, chemical composition, and mechanical properties. We have also covered the rail’s applications in track construction and layout, rail fasteners, and joint bars, and maintenance practices, such as inspection, grinding, and replacement.

It is important for rail industry professionals to implement best practices for ASCE 85 rail specification, application, and maintenance to ensure the safe and reliable operation of their systems. Regular inspection and detection of defects, proper rail grinding and maintenance, and timely replacement are critical for maintaining the rail’s performance and preventing accidents and incidents.

Looking to the future, there are ongoing trends and developments in ASCE 85 rail technology, such as the use of new materials, advanced testing techniques, and smart sensors for real-time monitoring and maintenance. As the rail industry continues to evolve, it is essential for rail professionals to stay up-to-date with these developments and implement them in their systems.

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