Railway axles are designed to be highly reliable so as to ensure even more than 30 years of service. Even though they are periodically inspected by scheduled Non Destructive Testing (NDT) inspections to detect the potential initiation of cracks, failures with disastrous consequences for railway vehicles and human beings can occur. This paper reports an investigation concerning the failure of an axle of a passenger coach due to fatigue crack propagation. Calculations indicated that the need for reliable NDT inspection methods is of crucial importance for the upfront detection of potentially critical cracks. The presented investigation was useful to support the application of the crack propagation simulation for the determination of reliable axle NDT inspection intervals so as to prevent future accidents.
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