Efficiency analysis and optimisation of DEM for railway ballast track simulations: Multi-layer shape model of lateral resistance

Wenli Jia*, Valeri Markine, Yunlong Guo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific

1 Citation (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


The railway ballast layer provides the function of bearing loading, resisting geometry degradation, and drainage. In those related research, the behaviour of ballast assembly can be obtained by laboratory (or in-situ) tests. Limited simulation methods can be used to analyse the behaviour of ballast particles at the mesoscopic level. The numerical simulations based on the Discrete Element Method (DEM) are employed, which treat every ballast particle as a calculation component. However, the efficiency of DEM simulation is very low due to the algorithm and a very large number of elements. This paper analysed the efficiency-related questions of the DEM modelling. The influence of particle shape and contact properties on the force behaviour is studied. Further, an optimised multi-layer ballast track model is introduced based on the most influential ballast areas. In such areas, particles are generated with an irregular shape to ensure the reliability of results, and particles except that area are generated with a rolling resisted ball shape to decrease the number of elements. A series of lateral resistance simulations are conducted to show and validate the accuracy and efficiency of this method in the dimension of the single sleeper section. Results show that this optimised multi-layer model building method largely improves efficiency, and it can provide accurate data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100977
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Geotechnics
Publication statusPublished - 2023


This is from work undertaken as part of the IN2ZONE project, which has received funding from the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement 101014571 – IP/ITD/CCA – IP3.


  • DEM
  • Model optimisation
  • Railway ballast
  • Railway track
  • Simulation efficiency


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