Numerical analysis of railway transition zones in soft soil

Bruno Zuada Coelho*, Michael A. Hicks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Transition zones are constructions intended to provide smooth passage of a train, when moving from a track supported on an embankment to a track on a stiff structure, such as a bridge, tunnel or culvert. The design of transition zones is based on creating a gradual stiffness variation between the free track and the stiffer structure. In the Netherlands, The standard transition zone design consists of placing a concrete approach slab before and after the structure. In the present paper, the performance of a typical transition zone is assessed, by means of numerical analysis. After validation of the results it is shown that the presence of a concrete slab, combined with the fact that the sleepers are hanging, causes a stress redistribution towards the free end of the approach slabs. This aggravates the long-term deformation of the soil and increases the differential settlement under normal train speed. A critical train speed is identified for the transition zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1613
Number of pages13
JournalInstitution of Mechanical Engineers. Proceedings. Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • culvert
  • numerical analysis
  • railways
  • soft soil
  • Transition zones


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