Heavy-haul in China: Investigating durable elasticity for superstructure
Ballast is the weakest link in rail superstructure. However, by mounting Under Sleeper Pads (USPs), ballast tamping requirements can be reduced and the availability of the track can be significantly increased. Here, Getzner colleagues, Dong Huiding, Ferdinand Pospischil and Harald Loy compare elastic and non-elastic track components, with details of results already witnessed on sections of China’s heavy-haul network.
Chinese heavy-haul network
The heavy-haul network in China is expanding fast. With total mileage of 653km the Datong– Qinhuangdao (Daqin) coal line is the major corridor for transporting coal from the west (Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region) to the east (Qinhuangdao, China’s largest coal-exporting seaport).
This double-track electrified line with an axle load of 25 tonnes, opened in December 1992 capable of transporting a total volume of 450MGT/year. To ensure these high numbers could be achieved, a wider than normal subgrade was used as well as stronger rails (75kg/m). The technology meets international standards: It was China’s first heavy-haul railway to use a micro-computerised centralised traffic control system and the first line in the country to use an optical fibre communication system. Drawing on the breakthroughs achieved on this line, China was able to make substantial progress in heavy-haul railway transportation.
With its demanding high frequency, the route’s freight operators require highly durable superstructure as damage to the components and increased wear will only reduce availability of the route, increase the maintenance requirements and drive up operating costs.
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