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Distributed monitoring of rail lateral buckling under axial loading


Distributed fiber optic sensors (DFOS) were used, for the first time, to monitor lateral buckling of a rail under axial loading with different boundary conditions. In the experiments, two types of DFOS systems were used to collect the distributed strain data, and the performance of the two systems was compared. The distributed strain data were used to develop a fitted strain plane at each cross-section along the rail, and axial strain and bending curvature were derived from the fitted strain plane. A data extrapolation method using the distributed curvature data was developed to evaluate the actual boundary conditions at the ends of the rail since they did not match assumed ideal behaviour. The distributed rail deflection along the length of rail was calculated by integrating distributed curvature data and the results were compared with the deflection measured by linear potentiometers (LPs).

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Availability of data and material

The experimental data is available upon request from the corresponding author.


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This project was supported in part by collaborative research funding from the National Research Council of Canada’s Artificial Intelligence for Logistics Program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Transport Canada. The authors are also grateful to Graeme Boyd, Emily Arkell, and Yuchen Liu and Jiying Fan from Queen’s University, and Dr. Artur Guzik from Neubrex Co., Ltd for their technical assistance.


This research was financially supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Transport Canada, and National Research Council of Canada.

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Correspondence to Neil A. Hoult.

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Sun, F., Hoult, N.A., Butler, L.J. et al. Distributed monitoring of rail lateral buckling under axial loading. J Civil Struct Health Monit (2021).

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  • Rail buckling
  • Distributed fiber optic sensors
  • Compression tests
  • Axial strain and curvature
  • Load eccentricity