Shelling in rails compromises detection of transverse defects, since ultrasonic energy cannot be sufficiently coupled through this surface condition. This paper describes a method that utilizes ultrasonic guided waves generated in the rail using electro-magnetic acoustic transducers (EMATs) to detect defects under shelling. The EMATs travel along the rail head and introduce ultrasonic energy into the rail head. The ultrasound penetrates underneath surface shelling and engine burns to detect hidden transverse flaws that may be missed by tradition rail flaw inspection technology. Software with artificial intelligence capabilities was also developed in which pattern recognition classifiers are used to classify defects in real-time. Field tests were conducted to determine the sensitivity of the method to transverse flaws and it was seen that defects as small as 5% cross-section head area (CSHA) in size could be detected using this method.

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