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Life cycle management for railway bridge assets
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Dwayne Nielsen, Dhamodharan RamanDhamodharan Raman, Gopinath ChattopadhyayGopinath Chattopadhyay
Railway bridges are long-life assets that deteriorate with age, use and poor maintenance practices. The rail industry is suffering from ever-increasing maintenance costs which are exacerbated by increased rail traffic and reduced maintenance opportunities. In addition, bridge managers are expected to maintain their assets at specified performance levels while enduring budget cuts and resource constraints. There is an increasing demand for bulk material transport leading to increased axle loads pushing bridge structures to their design loading limit. Making informed decisions for cost-effective condition assessment, maintenance, repairs, upgrades and replacements, often with inadequate and sometimes inaccurate data is a major challenge in the management of railway bridges. Due to these challenges, infrastructure planners require additional time to plan and prepare maintenance budgets, analyse, interpret and make decisions for bridge asset life management. Many of the bridge management systems utilised in Australia are generic and analyse faults at the network level. In many cases, a detailed analysis of individual elements will provide a better understanding of root causes of faults and allow for more informed decision-making on bridge life enhancement. A practical framework for life cycle management of Australian concrete and steel railway bridges was developed in this research. This framework is based on life cycle cost analysis and consists of bridge assessment, maintenance optimisation and implementation. The outcome of this research is a faster, more accurate system that improves the informed decision-making capability for life cycle cost management of railway bridges.