Experiments into impact behaviour of railway prestressed concrete sleepers
On railway track structures, dynamic impact loads with very high magnitude but short duration are often caused by wheel or rail abnormalities such as flat wheels and dipped rails. The possibility of the large impact loading to cause an extreme failure to an in situ concrete sleeper could be very low about once or twice in the design life cycle. However, to the current knowledge, the behaviour of the in situ prestressed concrete sleepers under the ultimate impact loading has not yet been comprehended, resulting in the design deficiency. A high-capacity drop-weight impact testing machine was thus constructed at the University of Wollongong, in order to evaluate impulsive resistance of in situ prestressed concrete sleepers under impact loads. This paper describes the detail of the high-capacity impact testing machine, as well as the instrumentation, the calibration, and the analysis of failure mode, crack propagation, flexural toughness, and energy absorption mechanisms with respect to railway prestressed concrete sleepers. The impact tests were carried out using the prestressed concrete sleepers manufactured in Australia. An in situ track test bed was simulated in laboratory and calibrated against the frequency response functions obtained from the experimental modal analysis. The experiments using the high-capacity impact testing machine to investigate the impact energy transfer mechanism of the prestressed concrete sleepers are highlighted.