Ultimate flexural limit states analysis of prestressed concrete sleeper

Bian, Jian (2012) Ultimate flexural limit states analysis of prestressed concrete sleeper. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Railway is one of the most important, reliable and widely used means of transportation, carrying freight, passengers, minerals, grains, etc. Thus, research on railway tracks is extremely important for the development of railway engineering and technologies. The safe operation of a railway track is based on the railway track structure that includes rails, fasteners, pads, sleepers, ballast, subballast and formation. Sleepers are very important components of the entire structure and may be made of timber, concrete, steel or synthetic materials. Concrete sleepers were first installed around the middle of last century and currently are installed in great numbers around the world. Consequently, the design of concrete sleepers has a direct impact on the safe operation of railways.

The "permissible stress" method is currently most commonly used to design sleepers. However, the permissible stress principle does not consider the ultimate strength of materials, probabilities of actual loads, and the risks associated with failure, all of which could lead to the conclusion of cost-ineffectiveness and over design of current prestressed concrete sleepers. Recently the limit states design method, which appeared in the last century and has been already applied in the design of buildings, bridges, etc, is proposed as a better method for the design of prestressed concrete sleepers. The limit states design has significant advantages compared to the permissible stress design, such as the utilisation of the full strength of the member, and a rational analysis of the probabilities related to sleeper strength and applied loads.

This research aims to apply the ultimate limit states design to the prestressed concrete sleeper, namely to obtain the load factors of both static and dynamic loads for the ultimate limit states design equations. However, the sleepers in rail tracks require different safety levels for different types of tracks, which mean the different types of tracks have different load factors of limit states design equations. Therefore, the core tasks of this research are to find the load factors of the static component and dynamic component of loads on track and the strength reduction factor of the sleeper bending strength for the ultimate limit states design equations for four main types of tracks, i.e., heavy haul, freight, medium speed passenger and high speed passenger tracks.

To find those factors, the multiple samples of static loads, dynamic loads and their distributions are needed. In the four types of tracks, the heavy haul track has the measured data from Braeside Line (A heavy haul line in Central Queensland), and the distributions of both static and dynamic loads can be found from these data. The other three types of tracks have no measured data from sites and the experimental data are hardly available. In order to generate the data samples and obtain their distributions, the computer based simulations were employed and assumed the wheel-track impacts as induced by different sizes of wheel flats. A valid simulation package named DTrack was firstly employed to generate the dynamic loads for the freight and medium speed passenger tracks. However, DTrack is only valid for the tracks which carry low or medium speed vehicles. Therefore, a 3-D finite element (FE) model was then established for the wheel-track impact analysis of the high speed track. This FE model has been validated by comparing its simulation results with the DTrack simulation results, and with the results from traditional theoretical calculations based on the case of heavy haul track. Furthermore, the dynamic load data of the high speed track were obtained from the FE model and the distributions of both static and dynamic loads were extracted accordingly. All derived distributions of loads were fitted by appropriate functions. Through extrapolating those distributions, the important parameters of distributions for the static load induced sleeper bending moment and the extreme wheel-rail impact force induced sleeper dynamic bending moments and finally, the load factors, were obtained. Eventually, the load factors were obtained by the limit states design calibration based on reliability analyses with the derived distributions. After that, a sensitivity analysis was performed and the reliability of the achieved limit states design equations was confirmed. It has been found that the limit states design can be effectively applied to railway concrete sleepers.

This research significantly contributes to railway engineering and the track safety area. It helps to decrease the failure and risks of track structure and accidents; better determines the load range for existing sleepers in track; better rates the strength of concrete sleepers to support bigger impact and loads on railway track; increases the reliability of the concrete sleepers and hugely saves investments on railway industries.

Based on this research, many other bodies of research can be promoted in the future. Firstly, it has been found that the 3-D FE model is suitable for the study of track loadings and track structure vibrations. Secondly, the equations for serviceability and damageability limit states can be developed based on the concepts of limit states design equations of concrete sleepers obtained in this research, which are for the ultimate limit states.

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ID Code: 63660
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gu, YuanTong & Murray, Martin
Keywords: limit states design, reliability, finite element analysis, wheel-rail force, wheel-rail impact, static load, dynamic load, dynamic bending moment, wheel flat, load factor, extreme event, prestressed concrete sleeper, normal distribution, weibull distribution, Dtrack, ANSYS, typical speed, sleeper bending moment, ultimate limit state, permissible stress design, beam on elastic foundation, heavy haul, high speed passenger
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Oct 2013 02:11
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 02:44

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