Output-only methodologies are nowadays well established to extract modal parameters in many areas of engineering, such as civil, mechanical and aeronautical. In the past, civil engineering tests have been mainly developed for road bridges, with the vehicle passage over the bridge deck representing the main source of excitation with some contribution given by the ambient noise. In the road bridge cases, the excitation is considered to be a function of the road surface roughness, the vehicles speed, the weight and suspension vehicles characteristics, and also the random access of the vehicles over the bridge, whilst for the railway case, not all these issues are correctly addressed, and other characteristics rise-up, possibly advantageous for a correct identification process; to demonstrate this statement, we can bear in mind how the random access of the vehicles becomes meaningless for railway bridges, the single train being a quasi deterministic source; furthermore, the influence of the train weight should be considered if compared to usual road vehicles. Since output-only techniques are conceived for random excitation noise, their use in these conditions is considerably stressed and special care, or alternative techniques, has to be considered to avoid errors. In this sense, the bridge reference model becomes more important and some special techniques have to be developed.

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