Transition zones such as level crossing and bridge approaches are critical links in railway networks due to higher degradation rates and maintenance needs. In this context, parametric optimization has been applied to improve the design in transition zones; however, it requires a more computationally efficient tool to support repetitive function evaluations, since the involved vehicle–track dynamic simulations are becoming more expensive to evaluate. For this purpose, a surrogate-based simulation methodology is proposed to search for an optimal combination of parameters relevant to the geometry and elasticity of track structures. Specifically, the presented methodology integrates finite element (FE)-based modeling with surrogate-assisted optimization: (1) the FE model is developed to characterize the dynamic behavior of a level crossing under a moving vehicle; (2) the optimization problem is formulated upon this mechanical model by extending the expensive FE simulations to an adaptive surrogate modeling scheme. This integration facilitates efficient exploration of the track design space (thereby reducing the computational cost), and a reasonable balance can be achieved between solution quality and computational effort. The methodology is applied to a Dutch railway case. Results show that compared to a reference design, the optimized design significantly improves performance indicators relevant to wheel–rail contact forces and energy dissipation in the ballast layer. The solution brings great potential in achieving a more desirable vehicle–track interaction and improving the connecting performance between level crossings and transitions. The methodology is applicable to other railway structures and may also contribute to improvements in current track design practices.
- Level crossing
- Performance-based design
- Railway transition zone
- Surrogate-assisted optimization
- Track design optimization
- Vehicle–track coupled dynamics