Quantifying bending moments in rail-transit concrete sleepers

J. Riley Edwards, Alvaro E.Canga Ruiz, Aaron A. Cook, Marcus S. Dersch, Yu Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With use of concrete sleepers increasing for rail-transit applications in the United States, it is becoming more critical to quantify their revenue service flexural demands to improve sleeper design and maintenance practices. Rail-transit concrete sleeper bending moment field data were collected and processed to address topic areas relating to (1) overall field bending moment magnitude relative to design moments; (2) moment variation from sleeper to sleeper resulting from support conditions; and (3) seasonal variations in moments. Data from field locations on light and heavy rail-transit properties show levels of reserve flexural capacity (factors of safety) that reach as high as 6, significant sleeper-to-sleeper variability attributable to support conditions that can be as high as 100%, and seasonal variation in bending moments that is measurable but far lower than daily variability caused by temperature by a factor of 2. These data provide a valuable baseline for the future generation of mechanistic design standards for track infrastructure components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04018003
JournalJournal of Transportation Engineering Part A: Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Bending moments
  • Concrete sleeper
  • Field instrumentation
  • Flexural strength
  • Heavy rail
  • Light rail
  • Rail transit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation

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