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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 363547, 10 pages
Research Article

Analysis of the Influence of Cracked Sleepers under Static Loading on Ballasted Railway Tracks

1Institute for Multidisciplinary Mathematics, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Camino de Vera s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain
2Foundation for the Research and Engineering in Railways, 160 Serrano, 28002 Madrid, Spain

Received 9 June 2014; Revised 1 August 2014; Accepted 27 August 2014; Published 28 October 2014

Academic Editor: Sakdirat Kaewunruen

Copyright © 2014 Laura Montalbán Domingo 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.


The principal causes of cracking in prestressed concrete sleepers are the dynamic loads induced by track irregularities and imperfections in the wheel-rail contact and the in-phase and out-of-phase track resonances. The most affected points are the mid-span and rail-seat sections of the sleepers. Central and rail-seat crack detection require visual inspections, as legislation establishes, and involve sleepers’ renewal even though European Normative considers that thicknesses up to 0.5 mm do not imply an inadequate behaviour of the sleepers. For a better understanding of the phenomenon, the finite element method constitutes a useful tool to assess the effects of cracking from the point of view of structural behaviour in railway track structures. This paper intends to study how the cracks at central or rail-seat section in prestressed concrete sleepers influence the track behaviour under static loading. The track model considers three different sleeper models: uncracked, cracked at central section, and cracked at rail-seat section. These models were calibrated and validated using the frequencies of vibration of the first three bending modes obtained from an experimental modal analysis. The results show the insignificant influence of the central cracks and the notable effects of the rail-seat cracks regarding deflections and stresses.