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RAILECT prototype achieves compatibility with rail profiles

TWI has developed a second prototype for a novel clamp-on device for the volumetric inspection of aluminothermic (AT) welds, expanding its compatibility. A follow-on from the success of the work carried out by the RAILECT consortium, a £1.2 million, European-funded collaborative project managed by TWI, the new prototype will be compatible with the four main UK/European rail profiles; 60E1, 56E1, 56E2 and 54E1.

The RAILECT device was originally developed to fit the UIC 60 European standard rail profile, using phased array ultrasonic technology to assess integrity of rail welds. It has the ability to provide many more details than conventional ultrasonic techniques, and offers a recording capability for all the inspection data. At the end of the RAILECT project in 2011, the prototype system could give full coverage of the rail weld and assess its integrity within 20 minutes. The technique was subsequently patented by the project partnership.

Designed and manufactured in 2013, the new prototype developed by TWI has been demonstrated in conferences, exhibitions and to potential customers, generating much interest from the industry, including the Hong Kong based MTR, which is seeking a tailored RAILECT design for its own profiles.

The cause of this interest is due to the need for a highly reliable, rapid and cost effective aluminothermic welds inspection technique.  Although the use of AT welds is well established, with an estimated 400,000 new welds being made annually throughout Europe, it remains a complex process, potentially influenced by the welder’s skills and/or environmental conditions. As such they may develop flaws during and shortly after welding, leading to disruption to train services and increased costs for rail network operators, maintenance operators and train operating companies. The system developed by the RAILECT team offers new confidence and efficiency to an advancing European industry sector.

Concept of phased array inspection result
Concept of phased array inspection result
First RAILECT prototype
First RAILECT prototype
Second generation prototype of Railect
Second generation prototype of Railect
Second generation prototype of Railect
Second generation prototype of Railect

For more information, please email contactus@twi.co.uk

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk