Finite element methodology for railway switch simulation

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This paper details the methodology followed to carry out a full finite element analysis using ABAQUS/Explicit, of a CVS 9.25 turnout to the left being locked by a rail clamp point locking system. To this end, a comprehensive three-dimensional CAD model of the switch and point operating equipment was created, which included the modelling of the switch rails, stock rails, stretcher bars, supplementary drive system and all the different parts that make up the rail clamp point locking system. The three-dimensional modelling procedure for the different parts is specified. Constraints and boundary conditions to best simulate the relative movement of the different parts of the switch are also detailed. The creation of such a switch and the finite element methodology described in this paper set the starting point for different types of tests to be carried out, such as the possibility to study the physical performance of the turnout when the points are thrown. Taking into account the vast number of parts that were modelled and the complex geometry of some of them, measures had to be taken to reduce the impracticable computational time. In this manner, some parts were simplified, rigid bodies were defined and a structured hexahedral mesh was used. After all these simplifications the drive force test was carried out with results briefly presented here and validated using real experimental data.


Original languageEnglish
JournalCivil-Comp Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Abaqus Explicit, Finite element analysis, Rail clamp point locking system, Railway, Run-through, Switch and crossing