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Extended Abstract

Structural Crack Identification in Railway Prestressed Concrete Sleepers Using Dynamic Mode Shapes †

Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Institute of Materials and Structures, Riga Technical University, Ķīpsalas street 6, LV-1658 Riga, Latvia
Laboratory for Track Engineering and Operations for Future Uncertainties (TOFU Lab.), School of Engineering, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at 2018 International Symposium on Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering (i-RISE 2018), Brno, Czech Republic, 5 June 2018.
Proceedings 2018, 2(16), 1139;
Published: 17 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of i-RISE 2018)
Railway prestressed concrete sleepers are a structural and safety-critical component in railway tracks. They are commonly embedded in ballast or gravel to enhance lateral track stability. This practice has prohibited the ability to visually observe or inspect the structural condition of the railway sleepers. It is important to note that damage of a sleeper may not seem to immediately lead to train derailments in a plain ballasted track. However, such the damage can lead to broken switch, bowed crossing, broken welds and wing-rail in switches and crossings or on the transom or railway bridge, potentially resulting in a train derailment from either excessive resultant track geometry defects or progressive component defects. Without proper maintenance or replacement in a timely manner, such the small damage can extend to a larger damage and lead to costly unplanned maintenance costs from aggravated impact loading, unbalanced load transfer, and other consequences caused by broken sleepers [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10].
This study is the word first to demonstrate a novel identification technique that is able to locate crack damage in full-scale railway prestressed concrete sleepers. By using dynamic mode shapes of the sleepers, the curvature squares can be used to identify structural cracks in the sleepers. This novel approach adopts structural deflection shapes extracted from experimental modal analysis using an impact excitation [11,12,13,14,15]. In this study, the full-scale railway concrete sleepers are loaded to experience the first crack and exposed to 1.5 times above the first-crack loads using quasi-static loading regimes in accordance with the British Standard as shown in Figure 1.
We are the first to report that the curvature square approach can be used to identify the structural damage in the full-scale railway prestressed concrete sleepers. It is found that accurate locations of structural cracks mostly in the mid span of the sleepers (e.g., centre binding cracks in the field) can be reasonably detected in comparison with the actual crack measurements from the experimental data. Our future work will establish a standardized damage index distributions and subsequent thresholding with different levels of confidence of damage localization to enhance the accuracy of crack localization. The insight into this approach can enhance the development of on-board and on-track technology to identify structural cracks for railway concrete sleepers embedded in ballasted railway tracks using operational modal analysis.


The authors are also sincerely grateful to the European Commission for the financial sponsorship of the H2020-RISE Project No. 691135 “RISEN: Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network”, which enables a global research network that tackles the grand challenge of railway infrastructure resilience and advanced sensing in extreme environments ( [16]. The first author is grateful to Erasmus+ for the financial support for his research internship at the University of Birmingham. The last author wishes to thank the Australian Academy of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences for his Invitation Research Fellowship (Long-term), Grant No. JSPS-L15701 at the Railway Technical Research Institute and The University of Tokyo, Japan.


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Figure 1. Experimental testing and damage localization flowchart.
Figure 1. Experimental testing and damage localization flowchart.
Proceedings 02 01139 g001
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MDPI and ACS Style

Janeliukstis, R.; Rucevski, S.; Kaewunruen, S. Structural Crack Identification in Railway Prestressed Concrete Sleepers Using Dynamic Mode Shapes. Proceedings 2018, 2, 1139.

AMA Style

Janeliukstis R, Rucevski S, Kaewunruen S. Structural Crack Identification in Railway Prestressed Concrete Sleepers Using Dynamic Mode Shapes. Proceedings. 2018; 2(16):1139.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Janeliukstis, Rims, Sandris Rucevski, and Sakdirat Kaewunruen. 2018. "Structural Crack Identification in Railway Prestressed Concrete Sleepers Using Dynamic Mode Shapes" Proceedings 2, no. 16: 1139.

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