UCSD/FRA Rail Defect Farm

The UCSD/FRA Rail Defect Farm


  • Department of Transportation/Federal Railroad Administration
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway (in-kind)


  • Prof. Piervincenzo Rizzo, University of Pittsburgh
  • Volpe National Transportation Center


Construct and maintain a Rail Defect Farm at the Camp Elliott Laboratory of UCSD for development of rail inspection technologies.


Related to the UCSD/FRA rail inspection prototype project, we have constructed the only Rail Defect Farm in the West Coast of the U.S. This Class I track was constructed by Sopac Rail Inc. under FRA sponsorship with in-kind donation of materials by BNSF. The Rail Defect Farm is located at UCSD’s Camp Elliott Field Station Laboratory, 9 miles away from the main UCSD campus. The Camp Elliott Station also hosts the NSF NEES Outdoor Shake Table facility, the Outdoor Soil Pit, and the Blast Simulator facility (http://nees.ucsd.edu/about/).

The UCSD Defect Farm features 250 feet of 136-lb rail with a number of natural and artificial defects including Detail Fractures, Transverse Fissures, other Rolling Contact Fatigue defects, Vertical and Horizontal Split Heads. The track includes a tangent portion (~125-ft in length) and an 8-deg curved portion (~125-ft in length). The Rail Defect Farm is a unique facility being used primarily for the technology development of the UCSD/FRA Rail Inspection Prototype. The facility is also available for testing to other developers of rail inspection technology on a recharge basis.