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International Journal of Railway Technology
ISSN 2049-5358
IJRT, Volume 2, Issue 4, 2013
Railway Track Transition Zones: Design, Construction, Monitoring and Numerical Modelling
E. Fortunato1, A. Paixão1 and R. Calçada2

1Transportation Department, National Laboratory for Civil Engineering, Lisbon, Portugal
2Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
E. Fortunato, A. Paixão, R. Calçada, "Railway Track Transition Zones: Design, Construction, Monitoring and Numerical Modelling", International Journal of Railway Technology, 2(4), 33-58, 2013. doi:10.4203/ijrt.2.4.3
Keywords: transition zones, backfills, numerical modelling, cyclic load triaxial tests, field characterization, track monitoring, high-speed railway lines.

Railway tracks frequently show higher degradation rates at transition zones from earthworks to bridges, or to other structures. In order to guarantee the safety and comfort of passengers, this aspect results in higher maintenance costs and disturbs railway operations. The behaviour of transition zones is rather complex and its poor performance has been mainly attributed to variations in the vertical stiffness of the track and to differential settlements. These two aspects amplify the dynamic loads of the trains and cause further track degradation.

The Portuguese railway network manager has reported the poor structural behaviour of a few transition zones in some of its lines, which constrain train operations and present high maintenance costs. Thus, a research project is currently underway aiming at contributing to a better understanding of the phenomena that occur at transitions, and at optimizing their design for conventional and high-speed railway lines. In this article, we present some aspects of this research project, namely: a review on the design of backfills for transition zones; a comparison between numerical models found in the literature that were used to study the problem; some results obtained during the construction (characterization of materials and layers) and operation of the line.

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