Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Qing Lu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrés E. Tejada-Martinez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael J. Stokes, Ph.D.


finite element analysis, geosynthtics, railway, reinforcement, vertical stress and strain, vertical surface deflection


Recently, the railway pavement structure system, as an integral part of the transport infrastructure, has been under fast development in some countries such as China, Turkey, and some European Union countries, particularly for the use of high-speed trains. In designing and constructing the railway pavement structure, it is necessary to take into account the infrastructure demand of the High-Speed Railway Lines (HSRL). Compared to traditional railway trains, HSRL can cause more significant problems to the ballast or base layer of commonly used ballasted railway pavements. The deteriorated ballast or base layer may further result in substructure degradation that may cause safety issues and catastrophic accidents. As a consequence, heavy goods or high-speed trains will affect railway efficiency. As a countermeasure, a railway pavement structure may be reinforced by geosynthetic materials in the ballast or base layer. In the literature, however, there is still a need to quantify the effect of geosynthetic materials, geogrid in particular, on the mechanical responses of railway pavement structures to HSRL loads, which is necessary knowledge in supporting the selection of appropriate material and placement location of geogrid. Therefore, the goal of this study is to investigate how a geogrid reinforcement layer can change the essential characteristics of a ballasted railway pavement structure, with focus on the material type and placement location of geogrid that can help minimize the rate of deterioration of the railway pavement structure system. This research attempts to validate the advantage of geogrid reinforcement through numerical simulation in a realistic railway setting.

All technical literature on the use of geogrids in the railway system has been studied. A three-dimensional (3D) finite element model was constructed for the numerical simulation, in which three different types of geogrid placed at two different locations (i.e., within the ballast layer, between the ballast and the sub-ballast layer) within a railway pavement structure were analyzed under a range of vertical wheel loads. Therefore, four possible applications of geogrid reinforcement systems (G0: no-reinforcement; G1: reinforced with geogrid having the lowest density and Young’s modulus; G2: reinforced with geogrid having the intermediate Young’s modulus and density; G3: reinforced with geogrid having the highest density and Young’s modulus) were modeled to represent different situations in ballasted railway systems. Railway mechanical responses, such as vertical surface deflection, maximum principal stress and strain, and maximum shear stress were analyzed and compared among the four geogrid reinforcement scenarios and under four vertical wheel load levels (i.e., 75, 100, 150 and 200 kN). The advantages of such geosynthetics in ballast are indicated by result difference in the mechanical responses of railway pavement structures due to the use of different geogrid materials. The results also show that the reinforced structures have lower vertical surface deflection, lower maximum shear stress at the interface of sleeper and ballast, and maximum principal stress at the bottom of the ballast layer than a non-reinforced railway pavement structure.

Consequently, the addition of geogrid into the ballast layer, and between the ballast and sub-ballast layer has been shown to reduce critical shear and principal stresses and vertical surface deflection in a ballasted railway pavement structure. Besides that, the results of the analysis confirm that geogrid reinforced layers exhibit higher resistance to deformation than the non-reinforced layers.