Long-term performance of pile-supported ballastless track-bed at various water levels

Han Lin Wang, Ren Peng Chen, Shuai Qi, Wei Cheng, Yu Jun Cui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, the constructions of pile-supported ballastless track-bed have been developed rapidly in China. It appears important to assess the accumulative settlement of this kind of track-bed after years of operation, especially under unfavorable conditions, such as the rising of water level. In this study, a full-scale physical model simulating the pile-supported ballastless track-bed was established. The soil arching effect was previously developed in this model by draining out water in the water bags among the pile caps. The effects of water level and loading cycle on the accumulative settlement of this model were investigated following four testing procedures: water level rising, cyclic loading at high water level, water level lowering, and cyclic loading at low water level. The results indicated that the total accumulative settlement of the track-bed increased rapidly in the beginning of loading and tended to stabilize as the loading cycle increased at high water level, whereas the value varied slightly when loading at low water level. The distribution of the accumulative settlement inside the subgrade at the end of loading with high water level and at the end of this test both presented parabolic shaped variation trends, with the peak point occurring above the water bag and lower values developing above the pile cap. At the high water level, a modified model was applied to estimate the accumulative settlement of the unsaturated zone above the water level (height of soil arch), and the fitting parameters in this model were precalibrated using the testing data. The estimated results revealed that the deformation of the unsaturated zone above the water level accounted for a minor portion of that of the whole tack-bed. By contrast, the zone below the water level is the dominant factor to influence the accumulative settlement of the whole track-bed. From a practical point of view, a well-performing drainage system should be set up to avoid the rising of water level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04018035
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Accumulative settlement
  • Cyclic loading
  • Pile-supported track-bed
  • Soil arching effect
  • Water level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)

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