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Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

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Modelling vibrations caused by tram movement on slab track line

Julia Real a , Pablo Martnez a, , Laura Montalbn a , Antonio Villanueva b
Departamento de Ingeniera e Infraestructura de los Transportes, Escuela Tcnica Superior de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos,
Universidad Politcnica de Valencia, 14 Camino de Vera, 46022 Valencia, Spain
INECO, 1-8 Capitn Haya, 28020 Madrid, Spain

article info abstract

Article history: The recent growth in the use of the railway and particularly that of the tram in urban areas
Received 5 November 2010 highlights the need to investigate and mitigate the harmful effects associated with these
Received in revised form 7 February 2011 means of transport. The vibrations caused by passing vehicles can be a source of vibration
Accepted 7 February 2011
and may damage buildings close to the line. This article aims to develop an analytical
mathematical model for predicting the ground vibrations caused by the passing of trams
along a slab track. The model is based on the wave equation and is solved in the frequency
Ground vibrations
Slab track
domain through the Fourier Transform. The loads caused by the vehicle are calculated using
Tram a quarter car model. The model is calibrated and validated with real data collected along
Timoshenko beam the tram network of Alicante (Spain), providing a useful tool for future research on the
Fourier Transform transmission of ground vibrations.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

The growing need for mobility, along with worries about the environment and questions of sustainability mean public
bodies are increasingly deciding in favour of developing rail borne transport systems.
This drive is clearly shown not only in interurban transport links but also in the growth of trams and subways as the main
means of urban transport. Many European cities have decided to develop and introduce their own tram networks as a way
of improving urban mobility and reducing traffic congestion [1].
The expansion of tram networks is generally beneficial to the population; however any associated environmental impacts
such as the vibrations generated by the passing of a vehicle should be evaluated before developing or extending an urban
When a vehicle moves along the line it produces vibrations which are transmitted to the surrounding area through the air
and the ground. The airborne vibration is felt in the form of sound which is not only irritating but could become harmful to
public health. On the other hand, ground vibrations may reach the foundations of nearby buildings and introduce structurally
damaging stresses and loads.
Both effects become more important in the areas around tramways because their lines are generally closer to buildings
and people. Therefore, a better understanding of the vibrations generated by these vehicles would allow a more efficient
assessment and mitigation of any possible negative effects.
In this context, the main objective of this paper is to develop, calibrate and validate an analytical model capable of
predicting the ground vibrations under the line. The model presented here is an improvement of previous works in certain
aspects such as the load modelling and the adaptation to slab tracks (see literature review below). It represents the first step

Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (J. Real), (P. Martnez), (L. Montalbn), (A. Villanueva).

0895-7177/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 281

a Track gauge
A Rail cross-sectional area
Ak Rail shear cross-sectional area
c2 Train primary damping coefficient
cLj Ground longitudinal wave velocity (j = 1, 2, 3)
cTj Ground shear wave velocity (j = 1, 2, 3)
C Equivalent ballast coefficient
E Rail Young modulus
Ej Ground Young modulus (j = 1, 2, 3)
G Rail shear modulus
hj Layer thickness (j = 1, 2, 3)
I Rail inertia in y-axis direction
k1 Equivalent track spring constant
k2 Train primary spring constant
m1 Unsprung mass per axle
m2 Sprung mass per axle
Pi Harmonic load magnitude
Q Static load per axle
V Train velocity
j First Lam parameter (j = 1, 2, 3)
j First damping coefficient (j = 1, 2, 3)
j Second Lam parameter (j = 1, 2, 3)
j Second damping coefficient (j = 1, 2, 3)
Rail mass density
j Ground mass density (j = 1, 2, 3)
Rail Poisson coefficient
j Ground Poisson coefficient (j = 1, 2, 3)
i Harmonic load frequency

within a wider study on the generation, transmission and effects of vibrations on structures near to a tramway in the city of
Alicante (Spain): Project TRAVIESA.
The article is structured in the following way: an initial literature review on previous work in this field is followed by
the mathematical development of the model and its solution using the Fourier Transform. The model is then calibrated and
validated using real vibration data collected on Line 1 of the Alicante tram network run by FGV (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat
Valenciana). The article closes with an analysis of the results and a presentation of the more important conclusions

2. Literature review

A great deal of research has taken place over recent years on the generation and transmission of vibrations associated with
railways. Much of the work concentrates on either the numerical or analytical mathematical modelling of this phenomenon.
Numerical methods have the advantage of being adaptable to different configurations of the area being studied and
allow the introduction of track irregularities or other localized factors. Examples can be found in [2,3], who used a finite
elements method (FEM) to predict ground vibrations on the surface and in tunnels, respectively. Another noteworthy case
was proposed by Katou et al. [4], who ran a three dimensional finite difference model (FDM) in the context of high speed
trains. Celebi [5] made a comparison between a boundary elements method (BEM) and a flexible volume method (FVM),
and Galvn and Domnguez [6] carried out a comprehensive study of the BEM method for railways.
Analytical methods provide continuity to the solution in all the domains along with a greater physical consistency because
their formulation directly depends on the physical parameters of the materials being considered. Those advantages have
been taken into account when choosing an analytical method for this paper.
A typical hypothesis in the railway field is to consider the rail as a beam supported on viscoelastic terrain subjected to
variable loads in time. The general proposition of this hypothesis can be found in [7] and its application to the railway in
the works of Muscolino and Palmeri [8], Schevenels et al. [9] and Metrikine and Vrouwenvelder [10]. This hypothesis is also
assumed for the model developed in this paper.
The way in which the equations are solved using analytical methods is worthy of further discussion. Some authors, like
Mazilu [11] directly solve the problem in the time domain using Greens function, but in general some type of integral
transformation is used such as the Laplace Transform [7] or the Wavelet transform [12,13].
282 J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

Fig. 1. Cross section of the railway (provided by GTP).

However, many authors prefer to use the Fourier Transform for solving equations in the frequency domain, because
it allows the vibration spectrum to be studied and provides information on the main frequencies and amplitudes of the
phenomenon. Examples of this procedure can be found in [10,12] as well as in [14]. These studies (particularly [10,12])
are the base of the method presented in this paper, but some aspects have been analysed to improve the modelling of the
First of all, the way loads are formulated should be considered. In the case of numerical models, some authors have
implemented a full account of the loads induced by a train [15,16]. However, in the case of analytical models, most of the
reviewed authors, [8,10,12] choose to simulate a single harmonic point load which contemplates certain variability of the
load but not the load distribution produced by a railway vehicle with multiple axles. This issue is addressed in this paper by
means of introducing a set of point loads which are a closer approximation to the train actual effect over the track. Moreover,
the load formulation used in this paper allows the study of both harmonic and static loads [17]. In this way dynamic loads
caused by track irregularities are included in the model. This represents another improvement from previous works.
Secondly, previous studies [12] use the EulerBernoulli beam equation to model the rail as a beam, while this paper
applies the extended Timoshenko beam equation, hence including the rail strain due to shear stress within the global
modelling of the vibration.
Finally, it is worth noting that most of the reviewed research concentrates on the vibrations generated by conventional
railway lines. Comparatively, there is not as much bibliography available on the vibrations caused by tramway networks
typically built using a slab track typology. In this way, the application of the method presented here to a tramway line
represents an interesting line of research because the negative consequences of the vibrations (noise, structural damage)
have greater importance in an urban environment.

3. Methodology

A detailed description of the methodology used in the development, calibration and validation of the model presented
in this article follows below.

3.1. Mathematical model

In the context of this article, vibration is a phenomenon which propagates energy through a continuous physical medium
causing said medium to deform and suffer stress. To reproduce this phenomenon, an analytical formulation is developed
based on the previous works of Metrikine and Vrouwenvelder [10], Koziol et al. [12] and Salvador et al. [17]. A cross section
of the track being studied is shown in Fig. 1.
The model is applied to a two dimensional cut (length and depth) in the ground under the track, and it evaluates the
vertical and longitudinal displacements generated by the passing of a mobile load (the tram). The cross section is simplified
by taking the two rails as a single beam and ignoring any discontinuity or irregularity in the Y axis. Fig. 2 shows the
longitudinal section of the ground and the X and Z axis considered.
The ground is assumed to be made up of three horizontal layers of viscoelastic, homogeneous and isotropic materials. The
model is therefore linear and the superposition principle can be applied. Layer 1 corresponds to the surface layer of concrete
HA-25, layer 2 is the layer which the rails sit on (also made of HA-25) and layer 3 is an average of the layer of HM-10 and the
layer of levelling concrete. This latter layer is assumed to extend indefinitely in depth (Boussinesq half space) to simulate
that the wave is not affected by any interaction in this direction.
Both the rail and elastomeric covering are modelled as a beam of negligible thickness located at the interface between
the first and second layer to simulate the fact that the rail is embedded in the concrete. The mechanical behaviour of the rail
J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 283

Fig. 2. Geometry of the problem.

is defined by the Timoshenko beam theory [18], producing the following system of equations:

2w w

A 2 = Ak G + q(x, t )
t x x

2 w

I 2 =

EI + Ak G
t x x x

where G is the shear modulus, w is the vertical displacement and is the angular displacement. The mechanical
characteristics of the modelled rail are averaged between the steel and the elastomer.
The ground dynamics are governed by the following wave equation, expressed in vectorial terms:

( + )x,z (x,z d) + x2,z d = (2)
where d is the displacement vector, is the density of the material and and are operators describing the viscoelasticity
of the ground, defined in the following way:

= +
t (3)

= +
where and are Lam parameters and * and are damping coefficients for the ground which must be calibrated using
experimental data.
The loads acting on the model are due to the interaction between wheel and rail. Two groups can generally be
- Load due to the weight of the vehicle. This is a quasi-static load which moves along the rail at velocity V .
- Harmonic loads with different amplitudes and frequencies coming from the vehicle (considered as a system of masses
and springs) and caused by certain imperfections and/or discontinuities in both the rail and the wheel. These could be
defects such as wear and tear on the rail, rail corrugation, wear on the wheels, rail joints, etc.
The resulting wave transmitted along the track and through the ground is formed from the superposition of the waves
generated by all the loads described above. In this way, the effect of loads caused by track and wheel irregularities is taken
into account in this otherwise completely linear model, providing a solution closer to reality [17].
The harmonic loads were modelled here using an auxiliary vehicle model called quarter car model, as defined by
Melis [19]. Fig. 3 shows the layout of the model, representing an axle of the tram.
Where m1 corresponds to the unsprung mass per axle of the vehicle, m2 to the sprung mass per axle, k2 and c2 represent
the tram primary spring constant and primary damping coefficient respectively and k1 represents the equivalent track spring
constant, the latter being another parameter which needs to be calibrated.
The auxiliary model and known vehicle data provide the different harmonic loads acting on the ground, each one
expressed in accordance with the following equation:
Fi (t ) = Pi cos(i t ) (4)
where Pi represents the amplitude and i the harmonic load frequency of the i-th load Fi . The resulting force is equal to the
sum of all the harmonics, which agrees with the ground linearity hypothesis assumed beforehand. Owing to the absence
of data on line defects, the frequencies i of the main harmonics have been obtained approximately from the average line
vibration spectra, as explained in Section 4.
It should be noted that the previous formulation is not valid for i = 0, which is the case corresponding to the static
load. Therefore, the static load has to be modelled independently by calculating the rail deformation due to the passing of
284 J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

Fig. 3. Quarter car model.

the load in accordance with the Zimmermann model [20] and assuming that the terrain under the rail deforms to the same
extent. The resulting vibration is added to that obtained for the rest of the loads, again following the phenomenons linearity
Once the leading equations for the phenomenon and the loads acting on the ground have been defined, boundary
conditions must be formulated to delimit the problem and permit its solution (5). Note that from here on, the sub indexes
1, 2 and 3 refer to the first, second and third layer of the line section, respectively:
u1 ( x , h 1 , t ) = 0 (5a)
u2 ( x , h 1 , t ) = 0 (5b)
v1 (x, h1 , t ) = w(x, t ) (5c)
v2 (x, h1 , t ) = w(x, t ) (5d)
xz1 (x, 0, t ) = 0 (5e)
zz1 (x, 0, t ) = 0 (5f)
u2 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) = u3 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) (5g)
v2 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) = v3 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) (5h)
xz2 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) = xz3 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) (5i)
zz2 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) = zz3 (x, h1 + h2 , t ) (5j)
u3 (x, , t ) = v3 (x, , t ) = xzg (x, , t ) = zzg (x, , t ) = 0. (5k)
In accordance with Metrikine and Vrouwenvelder [10], this group of boundary conditions is enough to provide the stationary
solution for Eq. (2) and any initial conditions for the problem need not be defined.

3.2. Solution

The model, once formulated as shown in Section 3.1, is solved as follows. According to Koziol et al. [12], Eq. (2) can be
expressed as a function of the Lam potentials in such a way that the horizontal and vertical displacements of the ground
and the corresponding stresses are as follows:

u= +
x z (6)

z x
2 2
2 2
zz = + + 2
x2 z2 z2 x z

2 2 2

xz = 2 2 + .
x z x z2
By way of this transformation, the vectorial equation (2) becomes two scalar equations. The following step consists of
applying the Fourier Transform on both the X axis and the time domain:

f (k, z , ) = f (x, z , t )ei(t kx) dxdt (8)

J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 285

f ( x, z , t ) = f (k, z , )ei(kxt ) dkd (9)
4 2

where (9) represents the inverse transform. Applying (8) to Eq. (2), previously expressed as a function of (6) and (7), produces
the following system of ordinary differential equations which are dependent only on Z:


R2L = 0

dz 2


= 0


dz 2
where the coefficients RL and RT are:

R2L = k2 i( +2 )
R2T =k 2

Representing the wave transmission velocity in the domain of the wave number and the frequency. This is why they depend
on cL and cT , which, in turn, are the velocities of the longitudinal and transverse wave in the time domain, as defined below:

( + 2)
cL =

cT = .

It is now possible to solve system (10), obtaining for each layer:

j = Aj1 (k, )eRLj z + Aj2 (k, )eRLj z

j = Aj3 (k, )eRTj z + Aj4 (k, )eRTj z
where the sub index j refers to the j-th layer. Therefore, considering (13) and applying the Fourier Transform defined in (8)
to Eqs. (6) and (7) the following expression of displacements and stresses is obtained:

u j (k, z , ) = ik(Aj1 (k, )eRLj z + Aj2 (k, )eRLj z ) + RTj (Aj3 (k, )eRjj z Aj4 (k, )eRjj z ) (14a)

v j (k, z , ) = RLj (Aj1 (k, )eRLj z Aj2 (k, )eRLj z ) ik(Aj3 (k, )eRTj z + Aj4 (k, )eRTj z ) (14b)

zz j (k, z , ) = Cj1 (Aj1 (k, )eRLj z + Aj2 (k, )eRLj z ) + Cj2 (Aj3 (k, )eRTj z Aj4 (k, )eRTj z ) (14c)

xz j (k, z , ) = Dj1 (Aj1 (k, )e RLj z

Aj2 (k, )e RLj z
) + Dj2 (Aj3 (k, )e RTj z
+ Aj4 (k, )e RTj z
) (14d)
)R2 j k
Cj1 = (j + 2

j Lj

Cj2 = 2ik j
Dj1 = 2ik j

(k2 + R2 ).
Dj2 = j Tj

Leaving only the different coefficients Aj,p to be found and the problem will be solved. The boundary conditions defined in
(5) now need to be transformed to the frequency domain as well as the wave number using (8), making:

u 1 (k, h1 , ) = 0 (16a)

u 2 (k, h1 , ) = 0 (16b)

v 1 (k, h1 , ) = w(
x, t ) (16c)

v 2 (k, h1 , ) = w(
x, t ) (16d)

xz1 (k, 0, ) = 0 (16e)

zz1 (k, 0, ) = 0 (16f)

286 J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

u 2 (k, h1 + h2 , ) = u 3 (k, h1 + h2 , ) (16g)

v 2 (k, h1 + h2 , ) = v 3 (k, h1 + h2 , ) (16h)

xz2 (k, h1 + h2 , ) = xz3 (k, h1 + h2 , ) (16i)

zz2 (k, h1 + h2 , ) = zz3 (k, h1 + h2 , ) (16j)

u 3 (k, , ) = v 3 (k, , ) = xzg (k, , ) = zzg (k, , ) = 0. (16k)

The Timoshenko beam equation (1) is also transformed using Fourier:

Ak G
Ak Gk2 1+ A2 w(
k, ) = q (k, ) azz 2(k, h1 , ). (17)
I 2 Ak G EIk2
Therefore, by taking into account the boundary conditions (16), the beam equation (17) and the Eqs. (14), the following
algebraic system can be proposed:
MA = q (18)
A = {Aj,p }T
j = 1, 2, 3
p = 1, 2, 3, 4
q (k, )

q= 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (19)
M = {Mm,n }
m = 1, 2, . . . , 10
n = 1, 2, . . . , 10.
Note that the system (18) has a dimension of 10 10 instead of 12 12. This is because condition (16k) necessarily implies
that A3,1 = A3,3 = 0. The terms of the matrix M are detailed in the Appendix.
The system thus expressed is solved using Kramers law to obtain the various coefficients Aj,p so that Eqs. (14) are
completely defined.
The last step is to apply the inverse transform (9) to Eqs. (14) to get the ground displacements and stresses in the
time domain. However, the mathematical complexity of the expressions solved in the frequency domain considerably
complicates the analytical solution of this process. Therefore, instead of applying the transform (9), the calculation is
simplified using the steps described below.
Firstly, given that the objective is to obtain only the stationary solution, a unique point can be fixed (e.g. x = 0, z = 0)
to reduce the number of variables. Next, the expression of the transform for sinusoid functions is considered, which in the
case of vertical displacement yields:

vj (0, 0, t ) = [vj (k, kV )ei(kV ) + vj (k, kV + )ei(kV + ) ]dk (20)
where vj is the vertical displacement, V is the speed of the load displacement and is the frequency for each of the
harmonics considered.
Finally, the integral (20) is transformed into a summation by discretizing variable k (wave number) so that:
vj (0, 0, t ) = [vj (k(n), k(n)V )ei(k(n)V ) + vj (k(n), k(n)V + )ei(k(n)V + ) ]. (21)
2VT n=1

The acceleration comes from twice deriving expression (21) with respect to time. Note that this is the acceleration due to
one axle of the tram.
The final step to obtain the complete solution of the problem is to consider the static load. As stated previously, the
effect of this load is studied separately using Zimmermanns formulation, according to which the deformation of a rail on a
continuous support and under a point load is:

QaC x
4 x x
y0 = e L cos + sin (22)
2bC 4EI L L
where Q is the applied load, a the track width, E the Young modulus of the track, I the inertia of the rail, C an equivalent
ballast coefficient for the material under the line, and L is an elastic length defined as:

L= (23)
J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 287

Table 1
Parameters of the model.
Damping coefficients for each layer
k1 Track spring constant

Fig. 4. Trams structure.

Eq. (22) can be expressed as a function of time, considering speed V for the tram so that x = Vt. This yields an equation
which provides the deformation of point x = 0 for a load displacing at speed V .
Twice deriving this expression leaves acceleration at x = 0 due to static load, which added to the acceleration obtained
using (21) for the harmonic loads provides the complete ground accelerogram for the passing of a single axle. Finally, this
accelerogram is replicated with the gap corresponding to the distance between the different axles, hence giving the ground
acceleration at a specific point due to the entire tram.

3.3. Calibration and validation

Once the model has been built, a series of parameters (Table 1), with as yet unknown values must be calibrated.
The rest of the models track and tram parameters are already known data or are easily obtained from simple calculus. A
particular case taken from the bibliography [21] is the ballast coefficient C required by Zimmermanns model.
The parameters presented in Table 1 are calibrated by comparing the accelerations provided by the model with an
accelerogram measured directly on Line 1 of the Alicante tram system. The values of the parameters are modified until
a suitable fit is obtained.
This fit is made qualitatively by checking the following criteria:
- Value of the maximum and minimum peaks.
- Average time between peaks.
- Time the signal takes to grow to the first peak.
- Attenuation time from the last peak.
The first two of these receive the greatest weight because they refer to the area with greatest amplitude (both positive
and negative) in the vibration signal, which could have most influence in the area surrounding the line.
Once the model is calibrated, it is validated using another accelerogram measured under the same conditions. Once again
the models fit to the data is evaluated using the same criteria as explained before.

4. Data collection

All the data used for the calibration and validation of the model come from measurements taken on Line 1 of the Alicante
tram network.
The measurements were taken when the tram passed by and when the line was empty using 2 FiberSensingTM triaxial
accelerographs based on optical fibre technology. These sensors measure the variation of light wavelength caused by ground
acceleration in terms of distance (nanometres). These values are then transformed into acceleration through the sensors
sensitivity provided by the manufacturer. The sensors used have a sensitivity of 0.851 nm/g and 0.060 nm/g respectively
and were placed at about 30 cm from the rail.
The data obtained, once turned into acceleration, is plotted in the form of accelerograms used for model calibration and
validation. In addition to this, frequency spectra were also obtained by applying the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) to the
data. These spectra were used to obtain the main frequencies (i.e. those giving greater and distinctive peaks of acceleration)
of the signal which were assumed to be related to the different rail defects present on that specific line. These frequencies
(i ) were used as input data for the auxiliary quarter car model to obtain the different harmonic loads to be implemented
in the main model. As explained before, this aims to introduce nonlinear effects due to track irregularities in a linear
The tram in service on Line 1 is a BOMBARDIER FLEXITY OUTLOOK with a total length of 32.37 m and a maximum service
speed of 70 km/h. Each tram consists of 5 modules and three bogies as shown in Fig. 4. The lead and rear bogies are motorized
whilst the central bogie is not. Data referring to the size, shape and mass of the vehicle have been provided by the Alicante
tram network operating company FGV.
288 J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

acceleration (m/s2)

time (s)
10 20 30 40 50


Fig. 5. Modelled accelerations.

acceleration (m/s2)

time (s)
0 22 24 26 28 30 32 34




Fig. 6. Measured accelerations.

5. Analysis of results

The results obtained and their evaluation within the framework of the data collected is presented below. Fig. 5 shows
the accelerogram (acceleration in m/s2 vs. time in seconds) provided by the calibrated model.
The graph clearly shows how the signal grows up to a series of maxima and later drops off, simulating the passing of a tram
over the studys reference point. The maxima can be broken down into 6 consecutive peaks grouped in pairs, corresponding
to the six axles (three bogies). These peaks reach a magnitude of about 8 m/s2 when positive and around 7 m/s2 when
negative which agree with the observed data presented below.
Fig. 6 represents the accelerogram recorded on the line, showing maximum and minimum observed accelerations more
or less corresponding to those produced by the model.
The track measurements show more acceleration peaks than the model. These secondary peaks do not correspond to
any axles but are probably due to other effects which the model cannot simulate because of its predetermined hypothesis
(homogeneity, isotropy, etc.). In fact, during the measuring phase, the welded joints between the rails were noticed to be
quite irregular and could cause knocks as the vehicle passes over them, explaining the additional peaks in the signal. This
kind of defect is not harmonic but rather singular and is thus not properly modelled by the set of harmonic loads defined.
Moreover, only those track defects with greater amplitudes were included in the model and other harmonics may have been
Fig. 7 compares the two accelerograms (model in red, measurement in green) and shows a good fit between the peaks
from the axles as well as in the attenuation of the wave.
Certain discrepancies appear in the growth of the wave as the model wave presents a small oscillation which is not
present in the measured wave. This could be due, once again, to the models basic hypothesis, because the formulation used
corresponds only to the stationary solution of the wave equation and any transitory phenomena are lost in the calculations.
In any case, the comparison criteria explained in Section 3.3 mean that the fit between model and data is sufficiently
satisfactory to consider the model as calibrated. More details on these criteria can be found in Table 2, which also shows the
discrepancy in the wave growth period mentioned above.
The values of the calibrated parameters in accordance with the stated criteria are presented in Table 3. It is worth
mentioning here that during calibration parameter * was found not to influence the result of the model and therefore
its value does not need to be adjusted.
J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 289

acceleration (m/s2)

time (s)
10 20 30 40


Fig. 7. Comparison between modelled and measured accelerations (model in red, data in green). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this
figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

Table 2
Calibration comparison criteria.
Criteria Model Data Difference (%)

Maximum peak (m/s2 ) 8.56 7.76 10

Minimum peak (m/s2 ) 6.68 7.12 6
T between peaks (s) 1.43 1.5 4.6
Growth (s) 3.8 3 26
Attenuation (s) 3.8 4 5

Table 3
Calibrated model parameters.
Layer 1 Layer 2 Layer 3

(Pa) No influence
(Pa) 15E6 15E6 10E6
k1 (N/m) 2E9

acceleration (m/s2)

time (s)
10 20 30 40


Fig. 8. Validation of the model (model in red, data in green). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to
the web version of this article.)

However, parameter does notably affect the form of the signal, but because only data on surface vibrations is available
only the parameter corresponding to the first layer has been truly calibrated. The value of in the other layers is assumed
to be similar to the surface layer because all the layers are made up of concrete with similar mechanical characteristics. The
value of parameter k1 has a noteworthy influence on the amplitude of the signals peaks.
The model was validated by comparing the modelled signal (with the calibrated parameters) with another measured
signal obtained under the same conditions. Fig. 8 shows this comparison (model in red, measurement in green).
Once again a good fit can be seen for the signal both in the amplitude of the peaks and in the time between the peaks.
Nevertheless, there appear to be some discrepancies in the attenuation period similar to those already seen during the
signals growth. Table 4 shows the comparison criteria for the validation.
290 J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291

Table 4
Comparison criteria for validation.
Criteria Model Data Difference (%)

Maximum peak (m/s2 ) 8.56 6.63 29

Minimum peak (m/s2 ) 6.68 6.31 6
T between peaks (s) 1.43 1.3 10
Growth (s) 3.8 3.1 23
Attenuation (s) 3.8 3 27

According to those results, the validation fit appears to be slightly worse than the calibration fit. Along with the already
mentioned discrepancies in the growth and attenuation times (which, as explained in Section 3.3, are less important criteria)
there appears to be an overestimation of the maximum peak which has to be investigated.
The fact that the disagreement appears only in the estimation of the maximum peaks and not in the minima could indicate
that this discrepancy is likely due to a certain irregularity in the measurement rather than in the model. Although all the data
were collected during a unique session and under similar conditions, two accelerometers with differing sensitivities were
used, which, without doubt, could influence the magnitude of the acceleration registered in each case. Furthermore, given
that an overestimation of the maximum vibration peak stays on the safe side, the model was considered to be acceptably

6. Conclusions

This article has presented the research done to develop an analytical model to evaluate the ground vibrations under a
track caused by the passing of a tram, along with the models calibration and validation using real vibration data registered
on Line 1 of the Alicante tram system.
The model shows some advances on previous work, such as taking into account both harmonic loads and static loads
in reproducing the displacement caused by the passing of a track borne vehicle. The load distribution corresponding to
different axles is also considered by the model. Another advance is the application of the model to slab track, instead of to
a more conventional ballast based track, leading the way to future research on vibration in urban areas where embedded
rails are more commonly used.
The model is based on the hypothesis of linearity and homogeneity in the materials and therefore has certain limitations,
such as the impossibility of including discontinuities or localized defects in the track, and not reproducing secondary order
phenomena. Anisotropy of the ground, which is likely found at some points even in a rather homogeneous concrete slab,
is also not modelled. All these limitations would require some changes in the model to somehow include them or even the
implementation of a fully non-linear model in order to be completely addressed.
The calculation of the harmonic loads could be further improved as the input data for the auxiliary model (quarter car)
were approximately obtained from the measurement of vibrations. A direct measurement of the tracks geometry and its
defects would allow a much more precise definition of these loads and thus a better result for the analytical model.
Despite the limitations described, the proposed model quite accurately reproduces the phenomenon of track vibration,
both in the magnitude of the peaks and in the approximate growth and attenuation of the signal. Therefore, it can be seen
as a useful tool for further, wider research on the generation and transmission of ground vibrations and their effects on
surrounding buildings.


The authors would like to thank GTP (Ente Gestor de la Red de Transporte y de Puertos de la Generalitat) for providing
the track cross sections; and FGV (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana) for providing the vehicle technical data.
They would also like to thank the company EDILON-SEDRA for providing the data on the elastomer installed on the

Appendix. Matrix elements

M1(55) M2(55)

M =
M3(55) M4(55)
ikeRL1 h1 ikeRL1 h1 RT 1 eRT 1 h1 RT 1 eRT 1 h1 0

RL2 h1
0 0 0 0 ike
M1 = K RL1 eRL1 h1 K RL1 eRL1 h1 K ikeRT 1 h1 K ikeRT 1 h1 aC2,1 eRL2 h1

RL1 eRL1 h1 RL1 eRL1 h1 ikeRT 1 h1 ikeRT 1 h1 RL2 e RL2 h1

D1,1 D1,1 D1,2 D1,2 0
J. Real et al. / Mathematical and Computer Modelling 54 (2011) 280291 291

0 0 0 0 0

ikeRL2 h1 RT 2 eRT 2 h1 RT 2 eRT 2 h1 0 0
M2 = aC2,1 eRL2 h1 aC2,2 eRT 2 h1 aC2,2 eRT 2 h1 0 0

RL2 h1
RL2 e ikeRT 2 h1 ikeRT 2 h1 0 0

0 0 0 0 0
1,1 C1,1 C1,2 C1,2 0
RL2 (h1 +h2 )
0 0 0 0 ike
M3 = 0 0 0 0 RL2 eRL2 (h1 +h2 )

0 RL2 (h1 +h2 )
0 0 0 D2,1 e
0 0 0 0 C2,1 eRL2 (h1 +h2 )
0 0 0 0 0

RL2 (h1 +h2 ) RT 2 (h1 +h2 ) RT 2 (h1 +h2 ) RL3 (h1 +h2 ) RT 3 (h1 +h2 )
ike RT 2 e R T 2 e ike RT 3 e
R eRL2 (h1 +h2 ) ikeRT 2 (h1 +h2 ) ikeRT 2 (h1 +h2 ) RL3 eRL3 (h1 +h2 ) ikeRT 2 (h1 +h2 )

M4 =
L2 R (h +h )

R (h1 +h2 )
D2,2 eRT 2 (h1 +h2 ) D3,1 eRL3 (h1 +h2 ) RT 3 (h1 +h2 )

D2,1 e L2 1 2 D2,2T 2 D3,2 e
RL2 (h1 +h2 ) RT 2 (h1 +h2 ) R (h +h )
C2,1 e C2,2 e C2,2 T 2 1 2 C3,1 eRL3 (h1 +h2 ) C3,2 eRT 3 (h1 +h2 )

Ak G
K = Ak Gk2 1+ A2 .
I 2 Ak G EIk2


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