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Dynamic Stress Analysis of a Railway Track Bed during

Train Passage

Project-2 (CE47006) report submitted to


Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
in partial fulfillment for the award of the degree of
Bachelor of Technology (Hons.)
In
Civil Engineering

VIVEK KUMAR
12CE31012
Under the supervision of

Prof. Sujit Kumar Dash

Department of Civil Engineering


Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Spring Semester, 2015-16
28th April, 2016

DECLARATION

I certify that
(a) The work contained in this report has been done by me under the guidance of my
supervisor.
(b) The work has not been submitted to any other Institute for any degree or diploma.
(c) I have conformed to the norms and guidelines given in the Ethical Code of Conduct of
the Institute.
(d) Whenever I have used materials (data, theoretical analysis, figures, and text) from other
sources, I have given due credit to them by citing them in the text of the thesis and giving
their details in the references. Further, I have taken permission from the copyright owners of
the sources, whenever necessary.

Date:

Vivek Kumar

Place: Kharagpur

12CE31012

DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL ENGINEERING


2

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF THECHNOLOGY, KHARAGPUR


KHARAGPUR-721302, INDIA

CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that the project report entitled Dynamic Stress Analysis of a
Railway Track Bed during train passage submitted by Vivek Kumar
(12CE31012) to Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur towards partial
fulfillment of requirements for the award of degree of Bachelor of Technology
(Hons.) in Civil Engineering is a record of bonafide work carried out by him under
my supervision and guidance during Spring Semester 2015-16.

Prof. Sujit Kumar Dash


Department of Civil

Date:
Engineering
Place: Kharagpur
Technology

Indian Institute of
Kharagpur, India

CONTENTS
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

INTRODUCTION5
LITERATURE SURVEY.....7
METHODOLOGY13
RESULTS..16
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS26
REFERENCES...27

1 INTRODUCTION
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Ballast and sub-ballast layers are important components of a conventional railway track
system. One of their main functions is to prevent the transmission of damaging stress
changes to the underlying natural ground or subgrade. Specification of the layer thickness
needed to do this was for many decades based largely on custom and practice. Analytical
design methods taking into account the stresses transmitted to the subgrade and the ability of
the subgrade to withstand them began to appear in the 1970s. Early approaches (Heath et al.
1972) were based on the behaviour of the subgrade materials in cyclic uniaxial loading.
More recent work highlighted the potential importance of the rotation in principal stresses
within the subgrade as trains pass (Brown 1996, Grabe and Clayton 2009), and suggested
ways in which the complex patterns of stress change induced by train passage could be
approximated in laboratory tests (Powrie 2007).

1.1

Aim of the Study


The aim of this thesis is to analyze the dynamic effects of the railway track. In the present
study dynamic effects are studied using Abaqus/Explicit.
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2.1

LITERATURE REVIEW

Properties of track components

2.1.1

Rail
The rail beam model is supported only at the boundaries. The rail may be modeled either as
an ordinary Euler-Bernoulli (E-B) beam or as a Rayleigh-Timoshenko (R-T) beam.

Euler-Bernoulli Beam (E-B beam)


In the E-B beam theory only bending of the rail is taken into account, and in case of
vibrations, only the mass inertia in translation of the beam is included. To obtain an equation
for the transverse vibration in a two-dimensional beam the following structure is studied.
The beam is subjected to an external force and has a distributed mass and flexural rigidity EI
which can vary with position and time, which is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: (a) Beam and applied force, (b) force acting on


an element
2.1.2

The Rail pads and Fastening


From a track dynamic point of view, the rail pads play an important role. They influence the
overall track stiffness. A soft rail pad permits a larger deflection of the rails when the track is
loaded by the train. Hence the axle load from the train is distributed over more sleepers.
Besides, since soft rail pads can suppress the transmission of high-frequency vibrations
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down to the sleepers and further down into the ballast, they also contribute to isolate highfrequency vibration.
The most commonly used physical model of a rail pad is the spring-damper system. The
spring can be assumed to be linear, and the damping is assumed to be proportional to the
deformation rate of the rail pad. According to the comparison between track models and
measurements its important to include the rail pads to get an accurate track model. In the
measurements carried out before, it was found that soft rail pads would result in lower
sleeper acceleration and higher railhead acceleration than the stiff rail pads. The stiffness of
the fastening is normally much less than that of the rail pad. Therefore, when investing track
dynamics the role of the fastenings is normally neglected.

2.1.3

Sleepers
Depending on which frequency interval is of interest, the concrete sleeper can be modeled
as either a rigid mass (at frequencies below 100 Hz) or as a flexible beam. For frequencies
up to 300 or 400 Hz, the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory may suffice. At higher frequencies,
the Rayleigh-Timoshenko beam theory should be used for an accurate description of the
sleeper vibration. Along the rail, the stiffness changes because it is supported by sleepers
separated by a distance around 65 cm. The stiffness is higher when the wheel passes at the
level of a concrete sleeper

These vibrations induced by the sleeper distance have a frequency f given by the equation
where V is the speed of the train and D is the distance between two sleepers.

f =V/D

2.1.4

The Ballast, Sub-ballast and Subgrade

The effect of the ballast is to distribute the loads from the sleepers to the soil. Usually, a
layer of sub-ballast prevents the penetration of the ballast particles into the soil or vice versa.
Ballast is a complex medium because of its granular properties. The ballast is constituted by
stone particles. The behavior of the ballast is not well-known because of the complexity of
the interactions between particles. A granular media can have behavior both like solids and
liquids: on one hand, the ballast supports sleepers; on the other hand, the liquefaction of
ballast is a dangerous problem which can cause derailment. Without any train loadings,
internal forces in the ballast are low. During train passages, the friction between particles
increases and the ballast is compressed by the train loading. To provide safety against ballast
instability, the European and Swedish codes specified a limit of 3.5 m/s2 maximal vertical
deck acceleration (CEN, 2002 and The Swedish National Rail Administration, 2008). During
the measurements, it was checked if any particles move during train passages by painting
lines on the ballast, as shown in Figure 2.
At present, the state-of-the-art of track design concerning the ballast and the subgrade is
mostly empirical. The factors that control the performance of the ballast are poorly
understood. The long-term behavior of the railroad track, including the ballast behavior and
the damage mechanics underlying the ballast settlement has been studied before. No
generally accepted damage and settlement equations or any material equations for the ballast
itself have been found. Only different suggestions to describe the ballast settlement from a
phenomenological point of view are available. A historical method for assessing track
performance is the use of track modulus.

Figure 2: Painting line on the ballast during measurements.


Ahlbeck developed the theory of the ballast pyramid model. In this model, the pressure
distribution is assumed to be uniform in a pyramid under sleepers and independent of the
depth. The friction between particles transmits the loading from the top layer to the bottom
of the ballast.
Thus, the ballast is divided in one block for each sleeper (see Figure3). Each ballast block
can be modelled by a single degree-of-freedom system with a mass M, a stiffness K and a
damping C. Alhbeck suggests an internal friction angle for the ballast of 20 and 35 for the
sub-ballast. To model the continuity of the ballast, shear stiffness and damping, connecting
the different blocks of the ballast, can be added.

2.2

Force exerted on Ballast Surface

There are two main forces which act on ballast. These are the vertical force of the moving
train and the squeezing force of maintenance tamping. The vertical force is a combination
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of a static load and a dynamic component superimposed on the static load. The static load is
the dead weight of the train and superstructure, while the dynamic component, which is
known as the dynamic increment, depends on the train speed and the track condition. The
high squeezing force of maintenance tamping has been found to cause significant damage to
ballast. Besides these two main forces, ballast is also subjected to lateral and longitudinal
forces which are much harder to predict than vertical forces.
The dead wheel load can be taken as the vehicle weight divided by the number of wheels.
The dynamic increment varies with train section as it depends on track condition, such as
rail defects and track irregularity.

Figure 3: Distribution of load from wheels to sub-ballast

2.3

Dynamic effects
Dynamic finite-element analyses carried out by Grabe (2002) and Grabe and Clayton (2009)
indicated that a static analysis, in which dynamic effects are ignored, might be acceptable for
speeds up to 240 km/h (67 m/ s) on a firm subgrade. However, high-speed railways with line
speeds of up to 300 km/h are increasingly being constructed: thus the adequacy of a static
analysis to assess the changes in stress experienced by the subgrade during train passage
cannot be taken for granted. It is known that resonance-type effects might result in excessive
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ground movements if the speed of the train approaches the Rayleigh wave velocity for the
soil Timoshenko 1927; Krylov 1995, 1996
Vc= CVs
Where C depends on the Poissons ratio, and generally ranges from 0.911 to 0.955 vs=shear
wave velocity. This is unlikely to be a problem for most subgrades, for which the Rayleigh
wave velocity will be in the order of 500 m/s, but has been observed in soils such as peats
and soft clays with a Rayleigh wave velocity of 4050 m/ s (Madshus and Kaynia 2000).The
effects of train speed on the stress paths to which soil elements in the subgrade below a
ballasted railway track are investigated in this paper by means of a dynamic finite-element
model.

3.1

METHODOLOGY

Finite-Element Model
The finite-element model is based on a section of railway tack at Bloubank, 60 km south of
Vryheid on the Broodsnyerplaas to Richards Bay COAL-link Line, South Africa, operated
by Transnet Freight Rail. Geotechnical properties at the site are reasonably well
characterized, and data of track Geometry are available for comparison with the finiteelement results.

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The railway was recently reconstructed to Spoornet heavy haul standards to carry 26 t axle
loads. This involved replacing the natural ground below the track with four layers of made
ground, designated SSB, SB, AB. The track consists of 60 kg/m Cr-Mg rails laid to a gauge
of 1,065 mm, with concrete sleepers placed at a spacing of 650 mm on a 300 mm depth of
ballast.
The railway track was modelled as a two-dimensional (2D) dynamic system using the finiteelement package ABAQUS/ Explicit. The plane of the model represents the central
longitudinal vertical plane of the track. The length of track modelled in the longitudinal (x)
direction is 65 m. The depth of the model in the vertical y-direction was set at 30 m: this
should be sufficient to eliminate boundary effects. The bottom and side boundaries were
restrained (pinned) in both the x- and y-directions. The finite-element mesh, is shown in Fig.
5.
The rail was modelled using standard EulerBernoulli beam theory and rail, sleepers,
ballast, made ground, and natural ground were modelled as elastic materials using solid
elements. Materials properties are given in Table 1.Only half of each car body and bogie
was modelled, owing to the 2D nature of the analysis and the assumption of symmetry about
the vertical plane through the centreline of the train.

Fig 4. Railway track consisting of all main track components

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Fig.5 Finite element mesh of 2D model


Component
Description
Rail
Sleeper
Ballast
Sub-Ballast
SSB
AB
Natural Ground

Youngs
Modulus(E)
(MPa)
210,000
30,000
100
321
296
118
27,000

Poissons ratio

Density (Kg/m3)

0.3
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.25

7,850
2400
1800
2300
2200
2100
2300

TABLE 1

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4.

RESULTS

4.1

Mesh Convergence Study

Mesh convergence study was done for three mesh sizes 0.2, 0.1 and 0.05 and it was found
out that there was a significant deviation in calculated results depending upon the mesh size.
This implies that stress values depend upon mesh size and give accurate results with small
mesh size elements. In the present study the results are calculated for a mesh size of 0.05

M e sh C on verg en ce
mesh=0.2
10000
0
0
-10000
-20000
-30000
Normal Stress(Pa)
-40000
-50000
-60000
-70000
-80000

mesh=0.1

0.2

0.4

0.6

mesh=0.05

0.8

Time(sec)

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1.2

1.4

1.6

4.2

Stress variation with Depth

In the present study normal stresses in y direction are calculated along the depth of the
model at a depth of 0, 0.2, 0.4, and 0.8 (in m) by taking ballast depth as reference with the
passage of train in different layers as Ballast, SB, SSB and AB as shown in figure. Soil
elements just below the track experience more and larger stress compared to the soil
elements at greater depths. Increasing the number and magnitude of repeated load
applications is likely to increase cumulative plastic deformation (Li and Selig 1996) thus it
can be concluded that soil elements at lower depths are more likely to experience increased
displacements and stresses and possible stress failure than those at larger depth.
In the present study velocity of the train was given 13.2m/s. Based on the stresses calculated
using 2D Abaqus it can be concluded that stresses decrease as depth increases. Rate of
change of decline in stress is higher for lower depths compared to the larger depths

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Norm a l S tre ss va ri a ti on w i th d ep th
d=0

d=0.2

d=0.4

d=0.6

d=0.8

20000
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

1.4

1.6

-20000

Normal stress(Pa)

-40000
-60000
-80000
-100000
-120000

time(m/s)

Table 2
Comparison with stresses computed by Grabe (2005) using GEOTRACK
Depth below ballast layer(mm)
0
200
400
600
800

Calculated using GEOTRACK


(kPa)
108
74
66
62
59

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Calculated using 2D Abaqus


(kPa)
110
84
65
62
58

M a x N orm a l S tre ss Va ri a ti on w i th d ep th
120
100
80
max normal stress(Pa)

60
40
20
0
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9
depth(m)

4.3

Stress variation in the locality of an unsupported sleeper

Poor drainage or differential settlement of the subbase may lead to some sleepers not being
fully supported, or even completely unsupported, resulting in increased deflections and
wheel-rail contact forces at the nearby sleepers. If one sleeper is unsupported, the
neighbouring sleepers must carry a higher load leading to locally increased stresses in the fill

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and/or subgrade layers. The changes in stress in the fill and in the natural ground that may
occur as a result of an unsupported sleeper were investigated using the finite-element model.

Fig 7 Contour of vertical stresses near unsupported sleeper

4.4

Effects of Train Speed on Stress

The estimated Youngs modulus of layer AB (the least stiff layer) is 118 MPa, giving a
Rayleigh wave velocity (Vc) of 140 m/ s. This is much greater than the maximum train
speed of 28 m/ s, thus there is no possibility of train speeds on this line approaching the
critical velocity. However this is not necessarily the case for railways on low stiffness
subgrades. The influence of increasing train speed on ground stresses and displacements was
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therefore investigated. Train speeds are expressed as a function of the Rayleigh wave
velocity, Vc.
In this study youngs modulus of layer AB was changed to 20MPa and the effect of train
speed was monitored using 2D Abaqus. For this value of youngs modulus Rayleigh wave
velocity was calculated as 60m/s. Stresses were calculated for an element in AB layer for
train speed of 30, 60, 70m/s. Based on the results it can be concluded that as the train speed
is below Rayleigh wave velocity the increase in stress with speed is not significant while as
the train speed approaches Rayleigh wave speed the change in stress is steep which may
results in stress failure and reason behind this is that for higher values of values there is
increase in inertial forces which have a very sharp increasing rate as the train speed
approaches Vc.

V=30
10000
0
0
-10000
-20000
-30000
Normal stress(Pa)
-40000
-50000
-60000
-70000
-80000

V=60

V=70

0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8

Time(sec)

20

1.2 1.4 1.6

Max Normal Stress


80000
75000
70000

max normal stress(Pa) 65000


60000
55000
50000
30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75

velocity(m/s)

Variation of max normal stress with velocity change

4.5

Effect of acceleration and Braking on stress

In addition to vertical loads, a moving train will exert longitudinal forces at the wheel rail
interface. For a train traveling at a constant speed, forward forces will be required to
overcome the effects of rolling and wind resistance. For a constant speed these forces are
generally small but in case of acceleration and braking these forces can increase to 100 times
of the forces in case of zero acceleration/braking; Esvel (2001)
In this model these results were incorporated by increasing the friction coefficient between
wheel and rail. Stresses were compared with friction coefficient values of 0, 0.25 and 0.4.

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S h e a r S tre ss va ri a ti on w i th A ccel era ti on


f=0

f=0.25

f=0.4

12000
10000
8000
6000
Shear stress(Pa)

4000
2000
0
0
-2000

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

1.4

1.6

-4000
-6000
Time(sec)

4.6

Stress Variation with sleeper gauge distance

Sleepers are an essential part of railway track. These are most integral part of track in
distributing the load applied by train wheel to the ballast. As the distance between
consecutive sleepers increases, a single sleeper is subjected to more load which leads to
increase in the stress in ballast layer just below the sleepers.
In the present study stress change is measured in ballast layer for different values of sleeper
gauge distance and it can be concluded that stresses vary linearly with sleeper distance

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N orm a l S tre ss Va ri a ti on w i th sl eep er d i sta n ce


d=0.6

d=0.7

d=0.75

d=0.8

20000
0
0
-20000

0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8

-40000
normal stress(Pa)

-60000
-80000
-100000
-120000
-140000
time(sec)

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1.2 1.4 1.6

maximum Normal Stress


140000
130000
120000

max normal stress(Pa) 110000


100000
90000
80000
0.6

0.65

0.7

0.75

sleeper gap

5. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION


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0.8

0.85

A 2D dynamic finite-element analysis has been used to investigate the effect of train speeds,
acceleration/braking, sleeper gauge distance and unsupported sleepers on the stress paths
experienced by elements of soil in the subbase and the underlying natural ground during
train passage.
Dynamic effects begin to have an effect on the stresses imposed on the soil as the train speed
approaches Rayleigh wave speed and there is steep increment in the stress value after train
speed crosses Rayleigh wave speed
An unsupported sleeper may lead to significantly increased stresses below the neighbouring
sleeper in the sub-ballast layer, and changes in stress bringing the stress path closer to
failure. However, the effects of an unsupported sleeper diminish rapidly with depth, and are
unlikely to be felt in the underlying soil provided that the depth of ballast and sub-ballast is
sufficient.
Sleeper gauge distance plays an important role in the load distribution applied by train. As
the gauge distance increases there is linear increase in stresses below the sleeper.

6.

REFERENCES

Dynamic Stress Analysis of a Ballasted Railway Track Bed during Train Passage By

L. A. Yang1; W. Powrie2; and J. A. Priest3


3D-models of Railway Track for Dynamic Analysis by Huan Feng
25

Grassie, S. L., and Cox, S. J. _1985_. The dynamic response of railway track with

unsupported sleepers. J. Automobile Eng.


Powrie, W., Yang, L. A., and Clayton, C. R. I. _2007_. Stress changes in the ground
below ballasted railway track during train passage. Proc.Inst. Mech. Eng., F J. Rail

Rapid Transit.
Lundqvist, A., and Dahlberg, T. _2005_. Load impact on railway track due to
unsupported sleepers. Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., F J. Rail Rapid Transit, 219_F2_, 67
77.

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