Optimisation of slab track design considering dynamic train–track interaction and environmental impact
Journal article, 2022

Modern railway tracks for high-speed traffic are often built based on a slab track design. A major disadvantage of slab track compared to conventional ballasted track is that the environmental impact of the construction is higher due to the significant amount of concrete required. In this paper, the dimensions of the rectangular cross-sections and the types of concrete used in slab tracks are optimised with the objective to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, while considering the constraint that the design must pass the static dimensioning analysis described in the European standard 16432-2. The optimised track design is also analysed using a three-dimensional (3D) model of vertical dynamic vehicle–track interaction, where the rails are modelled as Rayleigh–Timoshenko beams and the concrete parts are represented by quadratic shell elements. Wheel–rail contact forces and the time-variant stress field of the concrete parts are calculated using a complex-valued modal superposition for the finite element model of the track. For the studied traffic scenario, it is concluded that the thickness of the panel can be reduced compared to the optimised design from the standard without the
risk of crack initiation due to the dynamic vehicle load. In parallel, a model of reinforced concrete is developed to predict crack widths, the bending stiffness of a cracked panel section and to assess in which situations the amount of steel reinforcement can be reduced. To reduce the environmental impact even further, there is potential for an extended geometry optimisation by excluding much of the concrete between the rails.

Ballastless track

Environmental impact


Dynamic vehicle–track interaction


Slab track

Concrete structures


Emil Aggestam

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Jens Nielsen

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Karin Lundgren

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering

Kamyab Zandi

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering

Anders Ekberg

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Engineering Structures

01410296 (ISSN) 18737323 (eISSN)

Vol. 254 113749

Design criteria for slab track structures (CHARMEC TS19)

Chalmers Railway Mechanics (CHARMEC) (CHARMEC TS19), 2019-01-01 -- 2021-06-30.

Swedish Transport Administration, 2016-07-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Research into enhanced track and switch and crossing system 2 (In2Track-2)

Swedish Transport Administration, 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/826255), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

Subject Categories

Mechanical Engineering

Civil Engineering

Areas of Advance



C3SE (Chalmers Centre for Computational Science and Engineering)



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2/3/2022 1