Hybrid Model for Railroad Bridge Dynamics

Robin E. Kim, Fernando Moreu, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Railroads carry approximately 40% of the ton-miles of the freight in the United States. On the average, a bridge occurs every 2.25 km (1.4 mi) of track, making them critical elements. The primary load on the railroad bridges is the train, resulting in numerous models being developed to understand the dynamic response of bridges under train loads. However, because the problem is time-dependent and coupled, developing adequate models is challenging. Most of the proposed models fail to provide a simple yet flexible representation of the train, bridge, and track. This paper proposes a new hybrid model that is effective for solving the track-bridge interaction problem under moving trains. The main approach is to couple the finite-element model of the bridge with a continuous beam model of the track using the assumed modes method. Both single-track and multitrack bridges are considered. The hybrid model is validated against field measurements for a double-track bridge. This model is then used to predict critical train speeds. The results demonstrate that the hybrid model provides an effective and fundamental tool for predicting bridge dynamics subject to moving trains. The flexible feature of the model will allow accommodating more sophisticated vehicle models and track irregularities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04016066
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering (United States)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Dynamic loads
  • Hybrid model
  • Moving mass
  • Railroad bridges
  • Resonance
  • Structural health monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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