Field test and numerical analysis of Insulated rail joints in heavy-haul railway

Hong Xiao*, Guangpeng Liu, Dongwei Yan, Yue Zhao, Jiaqi Wang, Haoyu Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Insulated rail joints (IRJs) are widely used in heavy-haul lines, owing to they are safety critical components of track circuit. However, the IRJs breaks the continuity of the rail, making rail more vulnerable to damage under the long-term wheel-rail interaction. In order to study the performance of IRJs, field investigation and tests were carried out at new IRJ and damaged IRJ. At the same time, a 3D coupling model of heavy haul train-IRJ was established for the further analysis. The result shows that in regards to rail-surface regularity, the new IRJ and the damaged IRJ exhibits convex joint and concave joint respectively. IRJs will gradually turn to concave and dipped in the vicinity of end-post under long-term wheel-rail impact. Since there is a vertical rail displacement difference on both sides of the end-post between the two IRJs, causing the wheel-rail interaction has two different impact modes, of which one is downward height difference impact and the other is upward height difference impact. In normal speed, the impact caused by the damaged IRJ is larger than the new IRJ does and it leads to a severer damage to the whole track. The displacement of sleeper at the damaged IRJ is 7.6 times larger than at the new IRJ due to the void between the sleeper and the ballast. The transfer function of displacement from rail to sleeper at the new IRJ is between 0 and 0.4, while the damaged IRJ is between 0.42 and 6.1. The transfer function can be used as a vital index to evaluate the IRJ service state. With the increase of speed, the displacement of rail and sleeper at the two IRJs increases correspondingly. For the sake of decreasing the occurrence of fatigue damage and plastic deformation of rail and plate as much as possible, the maximum depth of concave should be reined within 0.55 mm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123905
Number of pages15
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Damage
  • Displacement Distribution
  • FE Analysis
  • Field Test
  • Heavy-haul Train
  • Insulated Rail Joints


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