The effect of railway local irregularities on ground vibration

Georges Kouroussis, David Connolly, Georgios Alexandrou, Konstantinos Vogiatzis

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79 Citations (Scopus)
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The environmental effects of ground-borne vibrations generated due to localised railway defects is a growing concern in urban areas. Frequency domain modelling approaches are well suited for predicting vibration levels on standard railway lines due to track periodicity. However, when considering individual, non-periodic, localised defects (e.g. a rail joint), frequency domain modelling becomes challenging. Therefore in this study, a previously validated, time domain, three-dimensional ground vibration prediction model is modified to analyse such defects. A range of different local (discontinuous) rail and wheel irregularity are mathematically modelled, including: rail joints, switches, crossings and wheel flats. Each is investigated using a sensitivity analysis, where defect size and vehicle speed is varied. To quantify the effect on railroad ground-borne vibration levels, a variety of exposure–response relationships are analysed, including: peak particle velocity, maximum weighted time-averaged velocity and weighted decibel velocity. It is shown that local irregularities cause a significant increase in vibration in comparison to a smooth track, and that the vibrations can propagate to greater distances from the line. Furthermore, the results show that step-down joints generate the highest levels of vibration, whereas wheel flats generate much lower levels. It is also found that defect size influences vibration levels, and larger defects cause greater vibration. Lastly, it is shown that for different defect types, train speed effects are complex, and may cause either an increase or decrease in vibration levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Early online date23 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Wheel/rail impact
  • Vehicle/track interaction
  • Railroad ground-borne vibration
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Wheel flat
  • Local track irregularity/discontinuity


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