American Society of Civil Engineers

Nonlinear Rail-Structure Interaction Analysis of an Elevated Skewed Steel Guideway

by Roman Okelo, Ph.D., P.E., (corresponding author), M.ASCE, (Senior Structural Engineer, APM & Assoc., Inc., 2201 Main St., Suite 1100, Dallas, TX 75201 E-mail: and Afisu Olabimtan, P.E., M.ASCE, (President, APM & Assoc., Inc., 2201 Main St., Suite 1100, Dallas, TX 75201. E-mail:

Journal of Bridge Engineering, Vol. 16, No. 3, May/June 2011, pp. 392-399, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: The use of continuous welded rail (CWR) with direct fixation of track on concrete deck is typical of most modern light-rail aerial structures. The interaction between the CWR and the elevated structure takes place through direct-fixation rail fasteners, which have a nonlinear force-displacement relationship. Factors that have significant influence on this interaction include the following: the bearing arrangement at the substructure units, trackwork terminating on the aerial structure, type of deck construction, and type of rail fasteners. To better understand the interaction mechanism, a nonlinear three-dimensional (3D) finite-element analysis of a straight, skewed, elevated steel guideway was carried out using the commercially available software GT STRUDL. The load cases considered in this study are temperature change, temperature change with rail breaking, and train braking. Results are presented in the form of rail axial stresses along the length of the bridge and normal bearing forces at both abutments and at all pier locations. The study shows that nonlinear 3D modeling can give a comprehensive insight into the rail-structure interaction (RSI) forces.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Bridge decks
Finite element method
Temperature effects

Author Keywords:
Finite-element method
Rail-structure interaction