An experimental research investigation into disused flat rail wagons as bridges with applications for low volume rural roads in Australia

McDonald, Christopher (2011) An experimental research investigation into disused flat rail wagons as bridges with applications for low volume rural roads in Australia. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


An experimental laboratory investigation was carried out to assess the structural adequacy of a disused PHO Class Flat Bottom Rail Wagon (FRW) for a single lane low volume road bridge application as per the design provisions of the Australian Bridge Design Standard AS 5100(2004). The investigation also encompassed a review into the risk associated with the pre-existing damage in wagons incurred during their service life on rail.

The main objective of the laboratory testing of the FRW was to physically measure its performance under the same applied traffic loading it would be required to resist as a road bridge deck. In order to achieve this a full width (5.2m) single lane, single span (approximately 10m), simply supported bridge would be required to be constructed and tested in a structural laboratory. However, the available clear spacing between the columns of the loading portal frame encountered within the laboratory was insufficient to accommodate the 5.2m wide bridge deck excluding clearance normally considered necessary in structural testing. Therefore, only half of the full scale bridge deck (single FRW of width 2.6m) was able to be accommodated and tested; with the continuity of the bridge deck in the lateral direction applied as boundary constraints along the full length of the FRW at six selected locations. This represents a novel approach not yet reported in the literature for bridge deck testing to the best of the knowledge of the author.

The test was carried out under two loadings provided in AS 5100 (2004) – one stationary W80 wheel load and the second a moving axle load M1600. As the bridge investigated in the study is a single lane single span low volume road bridge, the risk of pre-existing damage and the expected high cycle fatigue failure potential was assessed as being minimal and hence the bridge deck was not tested structurally for fatigue/ fracture. The high axle load requirements have instead been focussed upon the investigation into the serviceability and ultimate limit state requirements. The testing regime adopted however involved extensive recording of strains and deflections at several critical locations of the FRW. Three locations of W80 point load and two locations of the M1600 Axle load were considered for the serviceability testing; the FRW was also tested under the ultimate load dictated by the M1600.

The outcomes of the experimental investigation have demonstrated that the FRW is structurally adequate to resist the prescribed traffic loadings outlaid in AS 5100 (2004). As the loading was directly applied on to the FRW, the laboratory testing is assessed as being significantly conservative. The FRW bridge deck in the field would only resist the load transferred by the running platform, where, depending on the design, composite action might exist – thereby the share of the loading which needs to be resisted by the FRW would be smaller than the system tested in the lab. On this basis, a demonstration bridge is under construction at the time of writing this thesis and future research will involve field testing in order to assess its performance.

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ID Code: 45684
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Dhanasekar, Manicka & Bayissa, Wirtu
Keywords: abutment, bolster, bogies, displacement sensor, pier, rosette, strain gauge, substructure, superstructure
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 02 Sep 2011 03:54
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2011 03:54

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