Damage Detection in Railway Prestressed Concrete Sleepers using Acoustic Emission

Andrew Clark, Sakdirat Kaewunruen, Rims Janeliukstis, Mayorkinos Papaelias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)
201 Downloads (Pure)


Prestressed concrete sleepers (or railroad ties) are safety-critical elements in railway tracks that distribute the wheel loads from the rails to the track support system. Over a period of time, the concrete sleepers age and deteriorate in addition to experiencing various types of static and dynamic loading conditions, which are attributable to train operations. In many cases, structural cracks can develop within the sleepers due to high intensity impact loads or due to poor track maintenance. Often, cracks of sleepers develop and present at the midspan due to excessive negative bending. These cracks can cause broken sleepers and sometimes called ‘center bound’ problem in railway lines. This paper is the world first to present an application of non-destructive acoustic emission technology for damage detection in railway concrete sleepers. It presents experimental investigations in order to detect center-bound cracks in railway prestressed concrete sleepers. Experimental laboratory testing involves three-point bending tests of four concrete sleepers. Three-point bending tests correspond to a real failure mode, when the loads are not transferred uniformly to the ballast support. It is observed that AE sensing provides an accurate means for detecting the location and magnitude of cracks in sleepers. Sensor location criticality is also highlighted in the paper to demonstrate the reliability-based damage detection of the sleepers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd International Conference on Innovative Materials, Structures and Technologies
PublisherIOP Publishing
Number of pages7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2017
Event3rd International Conference on Innovative Materials, Structures and Technologies: IMST2017 - Faculty of Civil Engineering, Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia
Duration: 27 Sept 201729 Sept 2017

Publication series

NameIOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering
PublisherIOP Publishing
ISSN (Print)1757-8981
ISSN (Electronic)1757-899X


Conference3rd International Conference on Innovative Materials, Structures and Technologies
Abbreviated titleIMST2017
Internet address

Bibliographical note



  • Railway sleeper
  • Acoustic emission
  • Crack damage
  • Damage detection
  • Vibration
  • Prestressed concrete sleepers
  • Crossties


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