Resilience of ballasted railway tracks exposed to extreme temperature

Ngamkhanong, Chayut ORCID: 0000-0003-1321-9952 (2021). Resilience of ballasted railway tracks exposed to extreme temperature. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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At present, railway track buckling, caused by extreme heat, is a serious concern that can lead to the huge loss of lives and assets. With increasing exposures to high temperatures globally, a greater expansion in Continuous Welded Rails (CWRs) can induce higher risk of track buckling, especially when track defects exist. Note that track lateral stability is one of the most critical considerations for safe and reliable railway infrastructures. In ballasted railway tracks, ballast layer holds sleepers in place and provides lateral resistance and stiffness to the track. This doctoral thesis aims at investigating the buckling behaviour of ballasted railway tracks under extreme temperatures to clearly understand this vulnerability in order to improve the ballast track’s resilience to extreme temperatures.
This doctoral thesis first presents 3D Finite Element Modelling (FEM) of traditional and interspersed railway tracks exposed to extreme temperatures, through realistic modelling. The new findings highlight the buckling phenomena and failure mechanism of interspersed railway tracks, which are usually adopted during railway transformations from timber to concrete sleepered tracks in real-life practices around the world. All possible phenomena observed in the field are captured. The novel in-depth insight unprecedentedly instigates vulnerability and resilience of traditional and interspersed railway track systems exposed to extreme weather conditions. Moreover, the coupling DEM-FEM modelling are developed to deeply investigate the effect of ballast degradation and vulnerability on track lateral stability. This shows that the inspection of ballast profile is essential even though ballast condition seems to be good according to a visual inspection, as the hidden degraded ballast in the bottom layer can still undermine the buckling strength unexpectedly, resulting in increasing vulnerability to track buckling. The obtained results can be used for stability and misalignment management of ballasted railway tracks. The key findings will enhance the development of inspection criteria for lateral resistance and support conditions, improve safety and reliability of rail network, and mitigate the risk of delays due to track buckling leading to unplanned maintenance. Lastly, this doctoral thesis also proposes a new type of resilient material to effectively increase track resilience and reduce the likelihood of track buckling.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
Funders: European Commission
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
T Technology > TH Building construction


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