An existing analytical model, in use by Spoornet for the past two decades for calculating rail stresses on railway track, was revisited and improved. The model provided engineers with an easy-to-use program for evaluating track capacity and authorizing heavier loads on track. The model was modified to calculate rail and track component stresses more accurately. These modifications include the incorporation of current best practices and presentation of guidelines for the engineer on how to determine some input parameters which are normally difficult to obtain. Firstly it was determined which input parameters the model was the most sensitive to. Thereafter it was determined whether or not the correct information would generally be readily available for those sensitive parameters. The most sensitive parameters were further investigated and test results, as well as best practice analytical methods, were used to establish nominal input values and guidelines for determining such values. This research was necessary to establish whether or not the currently used analytical model still provided railway engineers with a useful tool and whether or not more modern and popular tools could validate or replace it. After some modifications to the analytical model, it was proved that it provides engineers with a suitably accurate tool for calculating rail and track component stresses, without the need to build time-consuming models of the track under investigation. It showed that the model, after some modifications, is current with calculational methods in recent publications and provides an immediate answer to "what-if" questions without the need to run lengthy analyses.
Dissertation (MEng (Mechanical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2006.