In this paper, the three-layer model of ballasted railway track with discrete supports is analyzed to access its applicability. The model is referred as the discrete support model
and abbreviated by DSM. For calibration, a 3D finite element (FE) model is created and validated by experiments. Formulas available in the literature are analyzed and new formulas for identifying parameters of the DSM are derived and validated over the range of typical track properties. These formulas are determined by fitting the results of the DSM to the 3D FE model using metaheuristic optimization. In addition, the range of applicability of the DSM is established. The new formulas are presented as a simple computational engineering tool, allowing one to calculate all the data needed for the DSM by adopting the geometrical and basic mechanical properties of the track. It is demonstrated that the currently available formulas have to be adapted to include inertial effects of the dynamically activated part of the foundation and that the contribution of the shear stiffness, being determined by ballast and foundation properties, is essential. Based on this conclusion, all similar models that neglect the shear resistance of the model and inertial properties of the foundation are unable to reproduce the deflection shape of the rail in a general way.
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