Nonlinear buckling instabilities of interspersed railway tracks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


In a conventional railway system, timber sleepers have been widely used for ballasted railway tracks to carry passengers and transport goods. However, due to the limited availability of reliable and high-quality timbers, and restrictions on deforestation the “interspersed” approach is adopted to replace ageing timbers with concrete sleepers. The replacement of ageing timber sleepers is frequently done over old and soft existing formations, which have been in service for so long, by installing new stiff concrete sleepers in their place. This method provides a cost-effective and quick solution for the second and third track classes to maintain track quality. Presently, railway track buckling, caused by extreme temperature, is a serious issue that causes a huge loss of assets in railway systems. The increase in rail temperature can induce a compression force in the continuous welded rail (CWR) and this may cause track buckling when the compression force reaches the buckling strength. According to the buckling evidences seen around the world, buckling usually occurs in ballasted track with timber sleepers and thus there is a clear need to improve the buckling resistance of railway tracks. However, the buckling of interspersed tracks has not been fully studied. This unprecedented study highlights 3D finite element modelling of interspersed railway tracks subjected to temperature change. The effect of the boundary conditions on the buckling shape is investigated. The results show that the interspersed approach may reduce the likelihood of track buckling. The results can be used to predict the buckling temperature and to inspect the conditions of interspersed railway tracks The new findings highlight the buckling phenomena of interspersed railway tracks, which are usually adopted during railway transformations from timber to concrete sleepered tracks in real-life practices globally. The insight into interspersed railway tracks derived from this study will underpin the life cycle design, maintenance, and construction strategies related to the use of concrete sleepers as spot replacement sleepers in ageing railway track systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106516
JournalComputers & Structures
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors are sincerely grateful to European Commission for the financial sponsorship of the H2020-MSCA-RISE Project No. 691135 “RISEN: Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network,” which enables a global research network that tackles the grand challenge of railway infrastructure resilience and advanced sensing in extreme environments (


  • Concrete sleeper
  • Interspersed track buckling
  • Interspersed tracks
  • Progressive buckling
  • Railway track buckling
  • Snap-through buckling
  • Timber sleeper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonlinear buckling instabilities of interspersed railway tracks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this