Improved performance of ballasted tracks at transition zones: A review of experimental and modelling approaches

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Journal Article
Transportation Geotechnics, 2019, 21
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Track transitions such as bridge approaches, road crossings and shifts from slab track to ballasted track are common locations where track degradation accelerates due to dynamic and high impact forces; as a consequence there is higher differential settlement. These types of discontinuities cause an abrupt change in the structural response of the track due mainly to variations in stiffness and track damping. Track transition zones are prone to an accelerated deterioration of track material and geometry that leads to increased maintenance costs. Track deterioration also leads to vehicle degradation due to enhanced acceleration, low frequency oscillation, and high frequency vibrations. While ballast deterioration is a major factor affecting the stability and longevity of rail tracks, the cost of tackling transition related problems that detract from passenger comfort is also high. A good transition zone lessens the impact of dynamic load of moving trains by minimising the abrupt variations in track stiffness and ensuring a smooth and gradual change from a less stiff (ballasted track) to a stiff (slab track) structure. This paper presents a critical review of various problems associated with transition zones and the measures adopted to mitigate them; it also includes critical review of research work carried out using large-scale laboratory testing, mathematical and computational modelling and field measurements on track transition zones.
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