Early failure of pre-stressed concrete railroad ties in the field is a costly occurrence with modern ties. A key predictor of the performance of a pre-stressed concrete cross tie is the transfer length. Assuring that the transfer length is less than the position of the rail seat is necessary to establish the full pre-stressing force at the load point of the concrete tie.

Models have been developed based upon empirical data to predict the transfer length of concrete members given key design parameters. Given the release strength and design geometry of the reinforcement steel, accurate predictions can be made as to what the anticipated transfer length will be. The geometry of the indented profile in pre-stressing steel has been found to be critical for minimizing the fracture propensity of the concrete member and reducing the overall transfer length. Edge wall angles of the reinforcement wire indents have been shown within this study to have a critical influence on the fracture propensity of the concrete medium. Steel produced with too shallow or too steep indent edge wall angles generate excessive internal forces rupturing the concrete.

By modeling the behavior of the transfer length in concrete members, the design and production tolerances can be better controlled increasing the life expectancy of concrete ties. This results in decreased costs for the rail infrastructure and greater uptime of tracks utilizing pre-stressed concrete railroad ties. By improving the overall design of concrete members and by improving the quality control tests used during production a longer lasting and lower cost product may be achieved.

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