Fatigue life modelling of railway prestressed concrete sleepers

Dan Li, Sakdirat Kaewunruen, Ruilin You, Ping Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The railway sleepers, which transfer wheel loads to the formation, are an important component of railway track systems. Prestressed concrete is the most commonly used type of railway sleeper around world. Crushing is a common problem on concrete sleepers, which include excessive flexural, shear, and bond stresses. The most causes of crushing in prestressed concrete sleepers are dynamic loads. However, accumulated damage due to cyclic loads can also cause crushing. Much previous research has investigated the impact load characteristics and the ultimate load capacity of prestressed concrete railway sleepers. There is a gap in the knowledge in fatigue failure for prestressed concrete sleepers. This study presents new results of extensive numerical and analytical investigations aimed at predicting fatigue lives under cyclic loads. A numerical study validated by 30 full-scale experimental tests is executed to assess fatigue performance, while theoretical fatigue analysis methods based on S-N curve and Miner linear cumulative damage are introduced for benchmarking. This paper presents a remaining fatigue life assessment for prestressed concrete sleepers and contrasts with the theoretical results. Parametric studies discuss the effect of support conditions, dynamic load distribution, and track stiffnesses on prestressed concrete sleepers. This paper highlights the rationales associated with the development of fatigue limit state. The outcome of this paper will provide design flexibility and improve railway sleeper maintenance and inspection criteria.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 May 2022

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Not yet published as of 16/05/2022


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