Table of Contents
Journal of Structures
Volume 2015, Article ID 598562, 11 pages
Research Article

Nonlinear Finite Element Modelling of Railway Turnout System considering Bearer/Sleeper-Ballast Interaction

1JKW Engineering, Penrith, NSW 2057, Australia
2School of Civil Engineering, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW 2057, Australia
3Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, School of Civil Engineering, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Received 11 September 2014; Accepted 17 February 2015

Academic Editor: Lucio Nobile

Copyright © 2015 James Sae Siew et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Rail turnouts are built to enable flexibility in the rail network as they allow for vehicles to switch between various tracks, therefore maximizing the utilisation of existing rail infrastructure. In general, railway turnouts are a safety-critical and expensive feature to a rail system as they suffer aggressive operational loads, in comparison to a plain rail track, and thus require frequent monitoring and maintenance. In practice, great consideration is given to the dynamic interaction between the turnouts components as a failed component may have adverse effects on the performance of neighbouring components. This paper presents a nonlinear 3D finite element (FE) model, taking into account the nonlinearities of materials, in order to evaluate the interaction and behaviour of turnout components. Using ABAQUS, the finite element model was developed to simulate standard concrete bearers with 60 kg/m rail and with a tangential turnout radius of 250 m. The turnout structure is supported by a ballast layer, which is represented by a nonlinearly deformable tensionless solid. The numerical studies firstly demonstrate the importance of load transfer mechanisms in the failure modes of the turnout components. The outcome will lead to a better design and maintenance of railway turnouts, improving public safety and operational reliability.