Laser cladding (LC), with small heat affected zone (HAZ) and lower dilution, is a promising way to repair and strengthen the rail. However, the traditional LC may lead to the cracking of the coatings and the martensitic transformation in the HAZ; which will threaten the safety of railway transportation. In this work, laser-induction hybrid cladding (LIHC) was innovatively proposed to prepare Ni-based coatings on a fullscale rail. Cracking behaviors, microstructures and mechanical properties of the coatings obtained by LC and LIHC were studied systemically. The results indicate that the cracks appeared in the HAZ of the specimen prepared by LC can be prevented LIHC, and the coatings obtained exhibit higher second dendrite arm spacing (SDAS). However, the martensitic structures with high hardness of HV730-HV900 in the HAZ by LC could not be avoided by LIHC, while the HAZ has lower plasticity and fracture toughness, which may accelerate the extending rate of cracks.