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Effect of vertical misalignment of adjacent sleepers on the increase in dynamic loads around rail joints

In spite of the extensive usage of continuous welded rails, a number of rail joints still exist in the track. Although a number of them exist as part of turnouts in the yards where the speed is not of concern, the Insulated Rail Joints (IRJs) that exist in ballasted tracks remain a source of significant impact loading. A portion of the dynamic load generated at the rail joints due to wheel passage is transmitted to the support system which leads to permanent settlements of the ballast layer with subsequent vertical misalignment of the sleepers around the rail joints. This vertical misalignment of the adjacent sleepers forms a source of high frequency dynamic load raisers causing significant maintenance work including localised grinding of railhead around the joint, re-alignment of the sleepers and/or ballast tamping or track component renewals/repairs. These localised maintenance activities often require manual inspections and disruptions to the train traffic leading to significant costs to the rail industry. Whilst a number of studies have modelled the effect of joints as dips, none have specifically attended to the effect of vertical misalignment of the sleepers on the dynamic response of rail joints. This paper presents a coupled finite element track model and a rigid body track vehicle interaction model through which the effects of vertical misalignment of sleepers on the increase in dynamic loads around the IRJ are studied. The finite element track model is employed to determine the generated dip from elastic deformations as well as the vertical displacement of sleepers around the joint. These data (dip and vertical misalighments) are then imported into the rigid body vehicle-track interaction model to calculate the dynamic loads.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Start Date





Wellington, N.Z.



Place of Publication

Wellington, New Zealand

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Centre for Railway Engineering; Institute for Resource Industries and Sustainability (IRIS); Queensland University of Technology; Rail Innovation Australia Pty Ltd;

Era Eligible


Name of Conference

Conference on Railway Engineering

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