Technical Reports

Review and Evaluation of Track Designs for Joint High Speed Rail and Heavy Freight Operations

  • 01
  • Nov
  • 2002
AUTHOR: Dingqing Li, Dio Yoshino
SUBJECT: Freight Operations
KEYWORDS: Alternative Track Designs, Joint High-Speed and Heavy Freight Operations
ABSTRACT: An increasing number of railway track segments in the U. S. will soon be required to carry both high-speed passenger and heavy freight traffic. In some cases, conventional track structures (i.e., ballasted crosstie tracks) may not be adequate for both types of service. They may not be capable of retaining the tight tolerances required for higher speed passenger service and withstand heavy freight axle loads without incurring excessive rates of track degradation. In order to address the needs of both types of rail traffic, an alternative track structure may be necessary to ensure adequate stability and reliability. However, any alternative design should be affordable in initial construction costs, allow greatly reduced maintenance requirements, and be maintainable within a realistic budget. There are a number of alternative track designs with potential for joint high speed and heavy freight operations. This report summarizes the review and evaluation of alternative designs developed and used in a number of countries, and the selection of several track forms to be further evaluated by actual field-testing. The review is focused on the main design features and characteristics of each track form and its performance results from testing and modeling. The evaluation of each track form is carried out based on factors including: potential for providing stability with both types of traffic, initial construction costs and ease of construction, reduced maintenance, ease of maintenance, durability and component life, and track availability.