The determination of the non-loading condition of the rail cable shifting (RCS) system, which consists of the main cables, hangers, and rail cables, is the premise of girder erection for long-span suspension bridges. An analytical form-finding analysis model of the shifting system is established according to the basic assumptions of flexible cable structures. Herein, the rail cable is discretized into segmental linear cable elements and the main cable is discretized into segmental catenary elements. Moreover, the calculation and analysis equations of each member and their iterative solutions are derived by taking the elastic elongation of the sling into account. In addition, by taking the girder construction of the Aizhai suspension bridge as the engineering background, a global scale model of the RCS system is designed and manufactured. The test system and working conditions are also established. The comparison between the test results and analytical results shows the presented analytical method is correct and effective. The process is simplified in the analytical method, and the computational results and precision satisfy practical engineering requirements. In addition, the proposed method is suitable for application in the computation analysis of similar structures.
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