The role of track stiffness and its spatial variability on long-term track quality deterioration

Ilaria Grossoni, Antonio Ramos Andrade, Yann Bezin, Sergio Neves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


With rapid advances in sensor and condition monitoring technologies, railway infrastructure managers are turning their attention towards the promise that digital information and big data will help them understand and manage their assets more efficiently. In addition to the existing track geometry records, it is evident that track stiffness is a key physical quantity to help assess track quality and its long-term deterioration. The present paper analyses the role of track stiffness and its spatial variability through a set of computational experiments, varying other vehicle and track physical quantities such as vehicle unsprung mass, speed and track vertical irregularities. The support stiffness conditions are obtained using a sample procedure from an autoregressive integrated moving average model to generate a representative larger set of data from previously on-site measured data. A set of computational experiments is carefully designed, varying different physical variables, and a vehicle–track interaction model is used to estimate the track geometry deterioration rates. A series of log-linear regression models are then used to analyse the impact of the tested physical variables on the track deterioration. The main findings suggest that the spatial variability of track stiffness significantly contributes to the track deterioration rates, and thus it should be used in the future to better target the design and maintenance of railway track. Finally, a comparative study of some settlement models available in literature shows that they are very dependent on the test conditions under which they have been derived.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number1
Early online date21 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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