Improving Track Substructure Designs and Settlement due to Complex Dynamic Loads from High-Speed Passenger and Freight Trains

Railroad track substructures that have traditionally supported heavy freight trains are undergoing rehabilitation as they are developed into shared corridors capable of supporting higher-speed passenger service, generating more complex dynamic loading. These substructures consist of mostly ballasted track, which must be durable, stable, and able to withstand repetitive dynamic loading without excessive deformation or ride quality degradation. There is an increasing need to (i) better understand effects of different qualities of aggregate types, degradation trends and maintenance alternatives as well as effects of moisture on subgrade and ballast layer performance under such demanding dynamic loading scenarios anticipated in joint passenger and freight corridors and (ii) develop engineered/optimized ballast specifications and subgrade preparation guidelines for improved track performance and hence increased network safety and reliability. This project aims to improve track substructure designs by properly evaluating effects of mixed-traffic on track performance. A discretely supported tie, ballast and subgrade track model will be used to study complex dynamic loading patterns from high speed passenger and freight trains. Associated track settlement, vibration and deterioration trends due to these moving wheel loads will be realistically evaluated using the field-validated ballast numerical model developed at UIUC based on the Discrete Element Method (DEM) utilizing an imaging based ballast aggregate particle size/shape characterization. The results from the dynamic, repeated train loading DEM simulations are expected to improve ballasted track substructure designs including railway transitions which often experience differential movement due to differences in track system stiffness, foundation type, ballast settlement from fouling and/or degradation, as well as subgrade settlement. This project will produce research findings in coordination with and significantly contributing to other NURail project emphases in vehicle dynamics (Shabana), track structure (Edwards and Andrawes) and track substructure and vibrations (Foster and Issa).


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:




  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Barkan, Christopher

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    205 North Mathews Avenue
    Urbana, IL  United States  61801-2352
  • Principal Investigators:

    Tutumluer, Erol

  • Start Date: 20120801
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180831
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33226

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01470589
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National University Rail Center (NURail)
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC18, NURail2012-UIUC-R03, DTRT13-G-UTC52
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2013 1:01AM