Journal Article Railway embankment failure due to ballast layer breach caused by inundation flows

Tsubaki, Ryota  ,  Kawahara, Yoshihisa  ,  Ueda, Yasuhiro

87 ( 2 )  , pp.717 - 738 , 2017-06 , Springer
A railway embankment constructed on a floodplain is at risk of damage due to flooding flows. The process and critical conditions that lead to railway embankment damage during flooding are not clearly understood, rendering risk estimations impossible and hindering the development of flood-resilient rail systems. For this work, we first reviewed records of railway damage in flood plains and flows through the ballast layer. The breaching process was selected as the focus of our study. We secondly specified the fundamental characteristics of flows through a ballast layer. The critical flow rate per unit width and the minimum upstream water depth required for initiating extensive ballast breaching were experimentally evaluated using a full-scale ballast layer with rails and sleepers constructed using materials originally utilized in actual railways. A two-dimensional flow model was then employed for estimating the flow through a ballast layer that was placed on an impermeable base embankment. A simple ballast breaching model was also employed in order to explore a higher flow rate condition that could not be represented in our experiment due to limited facilities. The breaching pattern represented by the simulation model corresponded to the breaching pattern observed in the experiment. In addition to the above, here, we also discuss the ballast breaching process based on qualitative field records and quantitative experimental results, as well as the ballast breaching process as represented by the simulation.

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