Ground borne vibrations from high speed trains
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A consequence of high speed rail transportation is the generation of elevated ground borne vibrations. This thesis presents several original contributions towards the prediction of these vibrations. Firstly, a new three dimensional finite element model capable of vibration prediction was developed. Its main feature was its ability to model complex track geometries while doing so through a fully coupled vehicle-tracksoil system. Model output was compared to experimental results obtained during this thesis and also to independent data sets. It was shown to predict velocity time histories, vibration frequency spectrums and international vibration descriptors with high accuracy. An appraisal of the suitability of a finite difference time domain modelling approach for railway vibration prediction was also undertaken. This resulted in the development of a new ‘higher order’ perfectly matched layers absorbing boundary condition. This condition was found to offer higher performance in comparison to current alternative absorbing boundary conditions. Field work was then undertaken on high speed lines with varying embankment conditions in Belgium and England. Vibration data was recorded up to 100m from each track and geophysical investigations were performed to determine the underlying soil properties. The results were used for numerical model validation and also to provide new insights into the effect of various embankment conditions on vibration propagation. It was found that embankments generate higher frequency excitation in comparison to nonembankment cases and that cuttings generate higher vibration levels than noncuttings. Once validated the finite element model was used to provide new insights into the effect of train speed, embankment constituent materials and railway track type on vibration levels. It was found that the shape and magnitude of ground vibration increased rapidly as the train’s speed approached the Rayleigh wave speed of the underlying soil. It was also found that ballast, slab and metal tracks produced similar levels of vibration and that stiffer embankments reduced vibration levels at distances near and far from the track. Two vibration mitigation techniques were also explored through numerical simulation. Firstly, an analysis was undertaken to determine the ability of a new modified ballast material to actively isolate vibration within the track structure. Secondly, wave barrier geometries were investigated to optimise their performance whilst minimising cost. It was found that barrier depth was the most influential parameter, whereas width had little effect. Additionally, geometry optimisation was found to result in a 95% cost saving in comparison to a base case. Using a vast array of results generated using the previously developed finite element model, a new empirical prediction model was also developed, capable of quickly assessing vibration levels across large sections of track. Unlike currently available empirical models, it was able to account for soil properties in its calculation and could predict a variety of international vibration metrics. It was shown to offer increased prediction performance in comparison to an alternative empirical model.