Mode shape curvature squares method for crack detection in railway prestressed concrete sleepers

Rims Janeliukstis, Sandris Rucevskis, Sakdirat Kaewunruen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
344 Downloads (Pure)


This unprecedented study aims to demonstrate the potential to locate crack damage and severity in full-scale railway prestressed concrete sleepers. The dynamic mode shape curvature squares method has been utilised. This approach adopts structural deflection shapes extracted from experimental modal analysis using an impact excitation. The railway concrete sleepers are exposed to the first crack and 1.5 times above the first-crack loads using experimental setup in accordance with the British Standard (for benchmarking purpose). It is found that the first cracking of the sleepers has caused non-significant stiffness reduction of the structural component evidenced from the fact that the natural frequency shifts are only few percent and no visible differences in deflection mode shapes are observed. In addition, the mode shape curvature alone cannot indicate the crack establishment in the railway sleepers. However, a relatively sparse wireframe for deflection shapes enable the plausible density of sensor grids that can be further analysed for damage detection. In this paper, the curvature square approach has been developed to quantify and locate the damage in the railway sleepers. The standardized damage index distributions and subsequent thresholding with different levels of confidence of damage localization have been firstly developed to enhance the accuracy of crack localization. It is found that accurate locations of cracks mostly in the mid span of the sleepers can be reasonably detected in accordance with the actual crack measurements from the experimental data. The novel insight into this approach can enhance the new development of on-board technology for railway sleeper crack detection using operational modal signals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-401
Number of pages16
JournalEngineering Failure Analysis
Early online date5 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Concrete sleeper
  • Crack detection
  • Deflection shape
  • Curvature
  • Damage index
  • Modal analysis


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