Residual stresses developed during flash-butt welding may play a crucial role in prolonging the fatigue life of the welded tracks under service loading conditions. The finished welds typically exhibit high levels of tensile residual stresses in the web region of the weld. Moreover, the surface condition of the web may contain shear drag or other defects resulting from the shearing process which may lead to the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks in a horizontal split web failure mode under high axle loads. However, a comprehensive understanding into the residual stress behaviour throughout the complex weld geometry remains unclear and is considered necessary to establish the correct localised post-weld heat treatment modifications intended to lower tensile residual stresses. This investigation used the neutron diffraction technique to analyse residual stresses in an AS60 flash-butt-welded rail cooled under normal operating conditions. The findings will ultimately contribute to developing modifications to the flash-butt-welding procedure to lower tensile residual stresses which may then improve rail performance under high axle load. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.