During the many months before Hatfield when NCE reported the continuing broken rails problem and following the disaster itself, I do not recall any significant correspondence or article on the properties of the steel used for the manufacture of rails.
I feel sure many civil and structural engineers like me who do not have railway experience but who design other types of steel structure would welcome some interdisciplinary exchange on this.
In steel and reinforced concrete building structures and bridges there are increasingly rigorous standards for steel ductility and toughness directed towards plastic rather than brittle failure. One might expect similar, perhaps more stringent, criteria for rails.
I remember reading some early twentieth century specifications for reinforced concrete in the days before the rebar industry dominated RC.
These specifications banned use of railway lines for reasons undisclosed. That may be a mischievous anecdote but I would like to know why no one is both sufficiently qualified and interested to inform us?
Bob Hairsine (M) firstname.lastname@example.org