Simplified geotechnical rheological model for simulating viscoelasto-plastic response of ballasted railway substructure

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, 2021, 45, (14), pp. 2019-2047
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A proper understanding of the mechanical behaviour of the substructure layers is crucial for optimising the design and performance of a ballasted railway track. The recent advent of high-speed trains and heavy haul freight wagons has heightened this need more than ever. The accurate prediction of the long-term performance of the railway tracks under increased speed and loads still remains an intriguing challenge for researchers and design engineers. In this context, the present paper proposes a simplified geotechnical rheological model to evaluate the viscoelasto-plastic response of the track substructure layers. The proposed approach combines plastic slider, elastic springs and viscous dampers to predict the transient response during a train passage, and the irrecoverable deformation accumulated in the track substructure over an operational period. The model simulates tri-layered substructure (ballast, subballast, and subgrade) in comparison with existing rheological approaches employing either single or dual-layered substructure. The model is validated against the field data published in the literature. An acceptable agreement between the predicted results and the field data verifies the accuracy of the model. Parametric investigations are conducted to study the influence of train and track parameters on the cumulative track deformation. The results demonstrate the enhanced capability of the rheological model to adequately capture the crucial effects of axle load, train speed and thickness of granular layers on the accumulation of track settlement. The proposed method can provide an effective tool for the practising engineers for quick prediction of changes to the geometry of railway tracks over their operational periods.
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