Influences of ballast degradation on railway track buckling

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Presently, railway track buckling, caused by extreme heat, 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. It is important to ensure the lateral stability of railway track in order to tackle the extreme temperature. However, in fact, railway track can be progressively degraded over time resulting in poorer track stability. This includes the larger lateral track misalignment and component deteriorations. This unprecedented study highlights 3D Finite Element Modelling (FEM) of ballasted railway tracks subjected to temperature change considering different ballast fouling conditions. The buckling analysis of ballasted railway tracks considering ballast fouling conditions has been investigated previously. This paper adopts the lateral resistance obtained from the previous single sleeper (tie) push test simulations to the lateral spring model. The influences of the boundary conditions and rail misalignment on the buckling temperature are also investigated. The results clearly show that the ballast fouling may increase the likelihood of track buckling even if the fouled ballast is accumulated at the bottom of the ballast layer. More importantly, the allowable temperature can be reduced up to 50% when the ballast is completely fouled. The results can be used to predict the buckling temperature and to inspect the conditions of ballast. The new findings highlight the buckling phenomena of interspersed railway tracks and help improve the inspection regime of ballast conditions especially in summer to encounter the extreme heat.


Original languageEnglish
Article number105252
JournalEngineering Failure Analysis
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Jan 2021