Scoping prediction of railway critical velocity

David Connolly, Sara Bassam Mezher, Peter Keith Woodward, Zelong Yu, Omar Laghrouche, Joao Pombo, P. Alves Costa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


When train speeds approach the wave propagation velocity of the supporting trackground system, track displacement amplitudes can increase significantly. This is undesirable and can cause both elevated maintenance and safety concerns. Thus, it is important to determine the speed at which these effects will occur, however modelling the problem in detail (e.g. using numerical techniques) can result in long run times. Therefore, as an alternative, this paper uses an analytical approach to investigate the dispersion characteristics of the track-ground system, and thus calculate the critical velocity. Unlike alternative approximate critical velocity calculation approaches, the proposed method is fully automated thus not requiring any post-processing to extract the soil dispersion curve. It has low computational requirements meaning it can be used quickly for large sections of track. After the model is outlined, it is validated against a larger, more comprehensive model and found to have high accuracy. A Monte Carlo analysis is then undertaken using 1000 random soil profiles. It is found that ballasted tracks typically have a lower critical velocity than slab tracks and that track height and soil saturation play an important role on the critical speed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Third International Conference on Railway Technology
Subtitle of host publicationResearch, Development and Maintenance
EditorsJ. Pombo
PublisherCivil-Comp Press
ISBN (Print)9781905088652
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event3rd International Conference on Railway Technology: Research, Development and Maintenance 2016 - Cagliari, Italy
Duration: 5 Apr 20168 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameCivil-Comp Proceedings
PublisherCivil-Comp Press
ISSN (Print)1759-3433


Conference3rd International Conference on Railway Technology


  • Critical velocity
  • High speed rail
  • Railroad vibration
  • Rayleigh waves
  • Soil saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Environmental Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Scoping prediction of railway critical velocity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this