Response Analysis of a Ballasted Rail Track Constructed on Soft Soil by 3D Modeling

The displacement, stress, and strain distributions of railway embankments on the soft deltaic deposit of the Ganges–Brahmaputra floodplain are investigated. A numerical model developed in general-purpose finite element software is used to simulate the design train load on a deltaic deposit for a 100 km/hr rail speed. The numerical analysis analogy is grounded in the spring model, where a beam under the unit load is modeled based on the Winkler foundation model concept. In the moving load simulation on soil, the static point load relating to the axle load is assigned in the form of a dynamic multiplier, determined using auxiliary software. The calculated shear force in terms of the influence line is applied as a dynamic multiplier. The numerical results demonstrate that under a dynamic train load, the loose ballast undergoes larger and more erratic displacement than the subballast. Comparative analysis between varying subballast stiffnesses shows that stiffer subballast yields smaller displacements. Moreover, a high subballast stiffness can counterbalance the potential of forming permanent deformation by generating lower strains. However, a stiffer subballast does not play a prominent role in reducing the displacement of ballast or vertical stresses. The subgrade is found to carry the maximum load, withstanding the maximum vertical stress; thus, the importance of using an improved subgrade with higher stiffness is also observed. A greater subgrade stiffness improves its load-carrying capacity but fails to reduce the tension responsible for the lateral spreading of the soft subsoil. To reduce the high radial strain, the effects of improving the stiffness properties of two immediately adjacent soft soil layers are numerically investigated. The improvement of subsoil alone is effective in reducing the radial strain, whereas the improvement of both subgrade and subsoil produces further reductions. The critical train speed generating the maximum displacement is identified as 120 km/hr, and the dynamic velocity amplitude decreases with depth. Finally, an allowable limit of rail embankment settlement on a soft deltaic deposit is observed.

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