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

UIUC Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2012-UIUC-R03
Project TitleImproving Track Substructure Designs and Settlement due to Complex Dynamic Loads from High-Speed Passenger and Freight Trains
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project ManagerBarkan
Principal InvestigatorTutumluer
PI Contact InformationPhone: (217) 333-8637 Email:
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)$105,000 Union Pacific Railroad; $65,000 USDOT RITA
Total Project Cost$170,000
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT13-G-UTC52 (Grant 2)
Start Date2012-08-01
End Date2020-09-30
Brief Description of Research ProjectRailroad 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).
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2012-UIUC-R03 Final Report.pdf