Reliability-based conversion of a structural design code for railway prestressed concrete sleepers
"Ballasted railway track is very suitable for heavy-rail networks because of its many superior advantages in design, construction, short- and long-term maintenance, sustainability, and life cycle cost. An important part of the railway track system, which distributes the wheel load to the formation, is the railway sleeper. Improved knowledge has raised concerns about design techniques for prestressed concrete (PC) sleepers. Most current design codes for these rely on allowable stresses and material strength reductions. However, premature cracking of PC sleepers has been found in railway tracks. The major cause of cracking is the infrequent but high-magnitude wheel loads produced by the small percentage of irregular wheels or rail-head surface defects; both these are crudely accounted for in the allowable stress design method by a single load factor. The current design philosophy, outlined in Australian Standard AS1085.14, is based on the assessment of permissible stresses resulting from quasi-static wheel loads and essentially the static response of PC sleepers. To shift the conventional methodology to a more rational design method that involves a more realistic dynamic response of PC sleepers and performance-based design methodology, comprehensive studies of the loading conditions, the dynamic response, and the dynamic resistance of PC sleepers have been conducted. This collaborative research between several Australian universities has addressed such important issues as the spectrum and the amplitudes of dynamic forces applied to the railway track, evaluation of the reserve capacity of typical PC sleepers designed to AS 1085.14, and the development of a new limit states design concept. This article presents the results of the extensive analytical and experimental investigations aimed at predicting wheel impact loads at different return periods (based on field data from impact detectors), together with an experimental investigation of the ultimate impact resistance of PC sleepers required by the limit states design approach. It highlights the reliability approach and rationales associated with the development of limit states and presents guidelines pertaining to conversion of AS 1085.14 to a limit states design format. The reliability concept provides design flexibility and broadens the design principle, so that any operational condition could be catered for optimally in the design."
Remennikov, A. M., Murray, M. & Kaewunruen, S. (2012). Reliability-based conversion of a structural design code for railway prestressed concrete sleepers. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, 226 (2), 155-173.