Optimization of the design of railway infrastructure and its components requires a comprehensive understanding of the loading demands that are expected. Currently, many design guidelines for track components use historical wheel loads and calculate bending moments based on broad assumptions. However, tools are available to accurately quantify and characterize the variability each load has on a particular component. This is particularly important in shared use rail corridors where higher speed passenger services operate on the same infrastructure as heavy axle load (HAL) freight trains. Each traffic type generates unique demand variabilities, and these should be incorporated into a holistic approach to optimized track design. Therefore, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) are conducting field research aimed at the characterization of field conditions on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor through the use of wheel impact load detector (WILD) data and concrete crosstie surface strain gauges. Results from this experimentation show high variability of loads resulting from varied types of train operations and significant differences in impact load ratios. Finally, laboratory measured flexural capacity for the concrete crossties showed a conservative design with a potential margin of improvement in reduction of residual capacity (i.e., factor of safety).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering