Fibre composite railway sleeper design by using FE approach and optimization techniques

  • Awad, Ziad K. (Faculty of Engineering and Surveying, University of Southern Queensland (USQ)) ;
  • Yusaf, Talal (Faculty of Engineering and Surveying, University of Southern Queensland (USQ))
  • Received : 2010.03.17
  • Accepted : 2012.01.03
  • Published : 2012.01.25


This research work aims to develop an optimal design using Finite Element (FE) and Genetic Algorithm (GA) methods to replace the traditional concrete and timber material by a Synthetic Polyurethane fibre glass composite material in railway sleepers. The conventional timber railway sleeper technology is associated with several technical problems related to its durability and ability to resist cutting and abrading action of the bearing plate. The use of pre-stress concrete sleeper in railway industry has many disadvantages related to the concrete material behaviour to resist dynamic stress that may lead to a significant mechanical damage with feasible fissures and cracks. Scientific researchers have recently developed a new composite material such as Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyurethane (GFRP) foam to replace the conventional one. The mechanical properties of these materials are reliable enough to help solving structural problems such as durability, light weight, long life span (50-60 years), less water absorption, provide electric insulation, excellent resistance of fatigue and ability to recycle. This paper suggests appropriate sleeper design to reduce the volume of the material. The design optimization shows that the sleeper length is more sensitive to the loading type than the other parameters.


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