Rail Embankment Stabilization for Cold Climate Railroads - Case of Hudson Bay Railway

MTU Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2013 -MTU-R08
Project TitleRail Embankment Stabilization for Cold Climate Railroads - Case of Hudson Bay Railway
UniversityMichigan Technological University
Project ManagerPasi Lautala
Principal InvestigatorThomas Oommen
PI Contact Information
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)$54,601 NURail Funds; $59,000 Omnitrax; $54,937 Michigan Tech
Total Project Cost$168,538
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT12-G-UTC18 (Grant 1)
Start Date2014-01-01
End Date2016-03-31
Brief Description of Research ProjectAfter decades of limited growth or even decline, recent years have witnessed increasing level of activity in the use of existing, or in the construction of new rail lines in cold climates. Many of these lines are primarily built for natural resource transportation and they range from lines operating on deep seasonal frost to the ones crossing extensive sections of permafrost. The latest push toward higher utilization of such lines in North America relates to the development of crude oil industry. Many production areas exist in northern part of the continent and extended sea shipping seasons are increasing the importance of rail access to northern ports.
Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) is a key trade link that connects domestic origins and destinations in Canada and United States with the export origins and destinations in Europe through the Port of Churchill. Over the last 80 years, the deterioration of the HBR embankment due to thawing discontinuous permafrost, combined with poor geotechnical properties of the muskeg soil has caused significant challenge in maintaining HBR line. Warming climate has further added to this challenge, causing major concern for the owner of the line, Omnitrax. Omnitrax is providing significant matching funding to the proposed project that would evaluate the rail embankment stabilization needs on the Hudson Bay Railway, using field and remotely sensed data. The key objectives of this project are: Defining a rating system for severity of railway conditions in permafrost affected areas Designing a "Best Practices Guide" to diagnose, document, and perform corrective actions addressing each
severity rating Creating a long-term solution for embankment stabilityThe project objectives will be achieved through field data collection, geophysical measurement, and remote sensing. The proposed research will enhance the reliability and sustainability of railway infrastructure in cold regions and advance our research and practice in cold regions' engineering, to reliably sustain our transportation infrastructure.
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2013-MTU-R08_Final_Report_-_Rail_Embankment_Stabilization_Needs.pdf