RC Trough Bridges: A Parametric Study using FEM and an Analysis of their Current State

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för samhällsbyggnad och naturresurser

Abstract: There are approximately 4000 railway bridges in Sweden managed by the Swedish Administration of Transport (Trafikverket), of which a common construction type is the reinforced concrete (RC) trough bridge, which is a structure that consists of a slab carried by two longitudinal main beams which transfer loads towards the supports. A substantial amount of the RC trough bridge population is approaching the end of their service lives which consequently implies that the replacement of some of these bridges can be expected in the near future. Extending their service lives can yield positive effects from a financial- as well as an environmental perspective, and therefore it is highly beneficial to evaluate their capacities as realistically as possible. One factor that may help improve accuracy during the determination of their capacities is an evaluation of how it is affected by the location of the railway track on the bridge.  In current design codes defined by Trafikverket, consideration is taken to horizontal track displacement for a minimum displacement of 0.1 m if there doesn’t exist data suggesting that a larger displacement is prevalent on the bridge. However, Trafikverket has received data which suggest that a considerable number of bridges could experience load eccentricities which exceed the standard minimum value. This raises the question whether or not 0.1m is the most optimal limit value for load eccentricity on railway bridges. For RC trough bridges, a larger load eccentricity may result in one main beam carrying a larger portion of the load which will decrease the axle load which the bridge can carry. It is therefore important to evaluate the influence of larger horizontal displacements than what is currently is considered as a preventive action.   In addition, several studies on Swedish concrete bridges constructed during the 20th century have pointed to a significant increase in concrete compressive- and tensile strength over time. This suggests that it is possible that a considerable amount of RC trough bridges have a higher capacity than what was originally intended, and further research is required in order to understand the behaviour of these bridges when key material parameters are altered.        There are three main tasks which this master thesis seeks to complete. The first part is a detailed analysis of a database named BaTMan (Bridge and Tunnel Management) that belongs to Trafikverket. In this analysis parameters such as span length, age, material type and damages for every identified railway bridge is extracted and further processed in Microsoft Excel in order to gain a clear overview of the RC trough bridge population. The second task regards the development of a non-linear finite element model of a typical RC trough bridge named Lautajokki. The model is analysed using ATENA Science and its behaviour is verified against test results obtained during a full-scale test of the bridge performed by Paulsson et al. (1996). The last task is to use the devolved model to perform a parametric study where the effects of changes in load eccentricity, compressive strength as well as tensile strength is studied.  

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