Consequence-based management of railroad bridge networks

Fernando Moreu, Billie F. Spencer, Doug A. Foutch, Sandro Scola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To increase profitability, add capacity and comply with new federal regulations on bridge safety, North American railroads are exploring means to improve the management of their bridge networks. Current maintenance, repair and replacement (MRR) decisions are informed by bridge inspections and ratings, which recommend observing the response of bridges under trains. However, an objective relationship between bridge responses and the associated impact to railroad operations has yet to be established. If the consequences of MRR decisions could be better determined, then the railroads could more effectively allocate their limited resources. Chief bridge engineers from different Class I railroads provided the values of displacements and assessment used to develop this paper. Researchers monitored displacements from over 50 train crossing events and related them to decisions on operations and maintenance. This paper develops an approach for consequence-based management of bridge networks for making network MRR decisions, employing fragility curves to relate service condition limit states to transverse displacement. The operational costs associated with these service conditions can estimate the total costs of a given MRR policy. In this way, optimum MRR decisions can minimise the total network costs. This framework provides a consistent approach for the prioritisation of railroad bridge MRR decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalStructure and Infrastructure Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Bridge maintenance
  • assessment
  • decision support systems
  • displacement
  • monitoring
  • railway systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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