Hybrid Discrete Element - Finite Element Simulation for Railway Bridge-Track Interaction

Sakdirat Kaewunruen, Olivia Mirza

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

3 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


At the transition zone or sometimes called ‘bridge end’ or ‘bridge approach’, the stiffness difference between plain track and track over bridge often causes aggravated impact loading due to uneven train movement onto the area. The differential track settlement over the transition has been a classical problem in railway networks, especially for the aging rail infrastructures around the world. This problem is also additionally worsened by the fact that the construction practice over the area is difficult, resulting in a poor compaction of formation and subgrade. This paper presents an advanced hybrid simulation using coupled discrete elements and finite elements to investigate dynamic interaction at the transition zone. The goal is to evaluate the dynamic stresses and to better understand the impact dynamics redistribution at the bridge end. An existing bridge ‘Salt Pan Creek Railway Bridge’, located between Revesby and Kingsgrove, has been chosen for detailed investigation. The Salt Pan Bridge currently demonstrates crushing of the ballast causing significant deformation and damage. Thus, it’s imperative to assess the behaviours of the ballast under dynamic loads. This can be achieved by modelling the nonlinear interactions between the steel rail and sleeper, and sleeper to ballast. The continuum solid elements of track components have been modelled using finite element approach, while the granular media (i.e. ballast) have been simulated by discrete element method. The hybrid DE/FE model demonstrates that ballast experiences significant stresses at the contacts between the sleeper and concrete section. These overburden stress exists in the regions below the outer rails, identify fouling and permanent deformation of the ballast.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd International Conference on Innovative Materials, Structures and Technologies
PublisherIOP Publishing
Number of pages8
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



  • Hybrid simulation
  • Discrete element
  • Finite element
  • Railway bridge
  • Transition zone
  • Bridge-track interaction


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