Effect of axle load spreading and support stiffness on the dynamic response of short span railway bridges
In this thesis the effect of axle load spreading through ballast and the effect of support stiffness has been investigated on short span railway bridges. Two types of bridges, simply supported bridges and bridges with integrated backwalls, have been modeled with 2D beam elements. When analyzing the load spreading effect, two types of load shapes have been considered. The first one is the load shape proposed in Eurocode where the axle load is modeled with three point loads where 50% of the axle load acts on the sleeper located underneath the wheel and 25% on the two adjacent sleepers, respectively. Therefrom the loads are further distributed through the sleepers and the ballast. The second load shape that has been studied is a triangular load shape. These two load shapes have been modeled both with different numbers of point loads and as distributed line loads to see how the dynamic response of the bridges is affected and thereby find what level of accuracy that is required to capture the full effect of the load spreading. For the bridges with integrated backwalls the supports were also modeled as springs with varying stiffness to see how the dynamic response was affected. The response was measured in terms of vertical acceleration and bending moment.
From the simulations the conclusion can be drawn that the triangular load shape gives significantly lower bridge responses than the Eurocode load shape. It is further found that modeling the axle loads with point loads can give spurious acceleration peaks, which in the case of bridges with integrated backwalls often are critical. For these bridges it is necessary to enhance the accuracy of the load spread, either by increasing the number of point loads or using a distributed line load. From the spring support simulations, it can be seen that support stiffness has great influence on the dynamic response of bridges with integrated backwalls. For certain values the response is increased, whereas for other values a large reduction is obtained.
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