To achieve the performance demands due to growing heavy-haul freight operations and increased high-speed rail service worldwide, advancements in concrete crosstie fastening systems are required. A mechanistic design approach based on scientific principles and derived from extensive laboratory and field investigation has the potential to improve the current best practices in fastening system design. The understanding of failure modes and effects on each component, associated with an improved understanding of load distribution and mechanical behavior, will ultimately increase production and operational efficiency while reducing unscheduled maintenance, track outages, and unplanned additional costs. Improvements on the rail pad assemblies, the components responsible for attenuating loads and protecting the concrete crosstie rail seat, will enhance the safety and efficiency of the track infrastructure. Understanding the mechanistic behavior of rail pad assemblies is critical to improving the performance and life cycle of the infrastructure and its components, which will ultimately reduce the occurrence of potential failure modes. Lateral, longitudinal, and shear forces exerted on the components of the fastening system may result in displacements and deformations of the rail pad with respect to the rail seat and rail base. The high stresses and relative movements are expected to contribute to multiple failure mechanisms and result in an increased need for costly maintenance activities. Therefore, the analysis of the mechanics of pad assemblies is important for the improvement of railroad superstructure component design and performance. In this study, the lateral displacement of this component with respect to the rail base and rail seat is analyzed. The research ultimately aims to investigate the hypothesis that relative displacement between the rail pad and rail seat occurs under realistic loading environments and that the magnitude of the displacement is directly related to the increase in wheel loads.

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