Impact of hydrocarbon exposure on the mechanical properties of rail pads

Jose A. Sainz-Aja, Isidro A. Carrascal, Diego Ferreño, Jose Casado, Soraya Diego, Joao Pombo, Isaac Rivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the effect of hydrocarbon exposure on the mechanical behaviour of seat pads used as a part of the fastening system in rail transport. Three different types of rail pads are examined, two made of EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and one made of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate). The results indicate that hydrocarbon exposure has a significant effect on the dynamic stiffness and mass stability of the pads, particularly in the EPDM ones. More specifically, it is observed that EPDM exposure to hydrocarbons increases the flexibility of the pads. Furthermore, for prolonged exposure periods (500 hours), this flexibility can become so pronounced that exhausts the pad's ability to deform under the loads applied during track assembly, which results in a more rigid behaviour than aging. Such findings are important as they suggest that hydrocarbons can negatively impact the performance and safety of rail transport due to the changes induced in critical mechanical properties of pads. Consequently, measures should be taken by contractors and infrastructure managers to reduce the adverse influence of hydrocarbons on rail pads, which contributes to increase the safety and efficiency of rail transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135561
Number of pages11
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2024

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