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Technical Instruction No.

Key Design Parameters for Rail Bridges
During the course of interaction with various Railways, I have
come across some design parameters adopted for construction of
important bridges like one over Ganga at Mungheyr, Kosi and
Brahmaputra at Boghibeel, which are not at all in consonance with
Railways own codes. Indian Railways have been pioneers in design and
construction of important bridges and have the unique distinction of
bridging all the important rivers of the country for over 150 years. The
design of well foundation is so well known and construction methodology
is so well established that it should have been possible to design and
construct them with much more confidence.

They have proved

themselves and therefore I am totally surprised to find various changes

being introduced, which are being adopted in supercession of provisions
in IRS Code of Practices. These so called modern practices have to be
established but there is apparently no case to totally alter the old ones
which are proven ones. I have also noted that costly pile foundations
have been constructed where well foundations would have been more
suitable besides being more cost effective. Example is Sone bridge on
East Central Railway, where all the three existing bridges are already on
well foundations.
In view of above, following may be adopted henceforth:

Founding level of wells below HFL:


Under normal conditions:

Normal depth of Scour(D) below HFL should be maximum of:








{DL=0.47 (Q/f)}

f is silt factor

= 1.76 m (m being diameter of bed material in mm over

scourable depth).
The value is generally taken as 1.00 which is in itself quite

For design discharge intensity in cumecs due to constriction

of waterway on account of pier width, as per provisions of
IRS Substructure Code {DL=1.34(q2)}}

Increase in depth of scour for design of foundation due to

local scour around nose of piers = 2DL.
This, however, needs to be checked from observed scour
around piers as per hydraulic model study.

Scour depth

reported by model study need not be doubled as in case of

calculations done for normal scour.

Grip length = one third of 2DL. However adequacy of grip

length should be checked for stability of well pressure
including safe bearing capacity of soil with all vertical and
horizontal loads as applicable under normal conditions.


Under Seismic conditions:

Procedure same as above under normal conditions, but with
design parameters like discharge, intensity of discharge, HFL
etc. should be for seismic conditions as per provisions of IRS
Substructure Code.

Adequacy of grip length under this

condition shall be checked with values of loads and moments

for seismic forces as per dynamic analysis carried out by
approved methods like one done by IIT/Kanpur or Roorkee

Thickness of Well Steining:

Thickness of well steining is always designed in consideration of

sinking effort required to sink the well without taking recourse to use of
kentledge or dewatering.









calculation based on following, taking due account of buyoncy.

f= Axw

H1 + (w-) X H2 + (w-)

Where f = Average Sinking Effort in t/m2

A = Cross sectional area of well steining in (m2)
w = Unit weight of plain concrete in t/m3
= Unit weight of water in 1 t/m3
P = Perimeter of well

in (m)

Values of H1, H2, H3 are as shown in the figure



H1 = height of well above water

H2 = height of well below water
level and upto bed level


H3 = depth of well below bed

level, where skin friction



In limiting conditions, H1 = 0, H2 < of H3, hence H2/H3 is neglected.

Hence f = A x w { w - }
Taking weight of concrete as 2.3 t/m3
f = 1.3 x weight of steining per meter length of well (w)
Perimeter (P)
This is nearly taken as 4 x w
The skin friction of soil varies at different level and is dependent
upon type of soil also.

This can be calculated by using following


F = ka. (Z 2C ka) tan (2)

Where F
Skin friction in t/m2

Active earth pressure coefficient

Angle of shearing resistance of soil (degrees)

Half of unconfined compressive strength.

Depth of foundation below Scour level (m)

Density of soil in t/m3

This is calculated below LWL. But empirical values are also safely used
with fair degree of confidence.
Stiff and soft

0.73 to 2.93 t/m2


4.88 to 19.53 t/m2

Very soft clay

1.23 to 3.42 t/m2

Dense sand

3.42 to 6.84 t/m2

Dense gravel

4.88 to 9.76 t/m2

For alluvium deposits, minimum sinking effort required is of the order of

Thus using the Formula available, sinking effort can be verified
from (f = 4/7 W/P).

Design of Steining:
The normal Railway practice is to provide plain cement concrete.

The reinforcement provided in such cases is very nominal in the form of

bond rods and lateral ties.

Bond reinforcement of about 0.12% of

sectional area and ties of about 0.04% of the volume per unit length is
found to be adequate and should be adopted.

Check against tensile

stresses in steining causing cracking should be made using following

formula both for seismic and non-seismic conditions.

Soil Pressure = 2 q (B-Sin B Sin2x sin B cos2x)

F= M - P
F = tensile stress in t/m2
M = Moment in t m
A = Cross Section area in sq.m
Z = Sectional modules of well in m3
q = Density of soil = 1.5 t/m3
P = Total lateral pressure in t/m2
The above was used in checking stresses in Mokamah bridge over
River Ganga. Details in Technical Paper No.336 Ganga Bridge at
Mokamah by Shri H.K.L.Sethi.
Check for Bearing Capacity:
Most of deep foundations are on sandy beds at foundation
level. The allowable bearing capacity can be calculated by
q = 5.4 N2B + 16 (100 + N2 ) D
q = Allowable soil pressure in kg/sq.m.
N = SPT value.
B = Smaller dimension of well cross section in metre.
D = Depth of foundation level below scour level in metre.
For calculating Bending moment both active and passive soil
pressures around the well should be considered.
A factor of safety usually of 3 is taken.

Low Water Level:

Depth of foundation is always measured below LWL.

It is

customary to place the bottom of the well cap at LWL. This is done in
order to enable inspection of the well cap.
Low water level is determined from gauge levels of the river for as large
period as possible particularly from consideration of as long working
period as possible. From the available charts, LWL adopted should give
ideally 150/180 days for working. Of course in river like Bramhaputra
this is not available where maximum time available is 130/140 days.
Thus LWL is not necessarily the lowest gauge level.

This is also

important so that the well cap can be cast without use of coffer dams etc.

Well Curb:
Most important element of well curb is the cutting edge. This is

designed from consideration of following.

It should be able to cut through hard strata.

It should be able to stand on a single point in case of a

sloping rock/large boulder, tree trunk etc. without getting

It should be able to withstand additional forces caused by

occasional blasting.

There is no known methodology for the design. More common is to use a

design which has proved itself for various important Railway bridges
under very difficult conditions. For a typical circular and Double D well
for large well foundations, known design is available as per the enclosed
Double D type is more prone to tilt and shift due to unsymmetrical
shape and possible unequal dredging. Thus it is essential that the well is
heavy in deep foundation.

Only part of the well curb should be armoured, may be 1 to 1.5

metres level from the cutting edge level, as shown in the sketch.
On above considerations, as mentioned, for bridge over River
Ganga, Mungher, the maximum depth of foundation below HFL should
not be more than 59.10 metres.

The thickness of steining could be

between 2.8/3.0 metres, which will give the sinking effort of over 5t/m3.
Steining concrete could be of M20 (200 kg/cm2) to be treated as
plain concrete although ordinary M15 (1:2:4) concrete has served very
well in the past.
The well curb is usually of M25 (250 kg/cm2)

Pier Shaft:
The pier is designed as column subjected to vertical forces and

moments for both seismic and non-seismic conditions.


Calculation of lateral earth pressure for soils with cohesion:

It is seen that in many case of back fill of soil having c and , only

is considered and active earth pressure coefficient for Rankiens

forumula is calculated accordingly. This is totally incorrect.
In such cases, the earth pressure may be calculated using Bells
equation obtained from Mohrs failure stress circle.
Principle shear stresses 1 and 2 will be:
1 = 2 tan2 (45 + /2) + 2 c tan (45 + /2)
3 = 1 tan2 (45 - /2) + 2 c tan (45 - /2)
Using Coulumbs and Rankiens k factors to calculate Earth pressures at
depth Z.
Pa = z ka 2 c ka

where Z = 2c

Resultant R and its location y can be calculated by either

neglecting tension zone or altering pressure diagram for overall depth of

= Pa (H-Z)/2 at y = (H-Z)/3 above base



= Pa H/2 at y = H/3 above base

Where ka = coefficient of active earth pressure for Rankien = 1 sin

1 + sin
= Angle of Shearing Resistance in degrees.

c =

Density of soil.


soil generally obtained from

unconfined comprehensive test.

By neglecting tension crack(Z), the lateral pressure obtained is
generally higher and is considered more conservative.

Use of concrete blocks Vs. crated boulders for launching apron

as well as for side slopes of guide bunds and approach
The subject has been well debated. But general experience, which

has served successfully for over 100 years, is to use crated boulders in
alluvium deposits for launching aprons. The size of crate is determined
on the basis of water velocity to prevent it being swept and lifted away.
The basic principle of the launching apron is best described as the one of
a carpet which takes the shape of the scoured bed. The bottom of the
apron is normally placed at LWL.

It is not possible to lay the apron

below knee deep water because of difficult manual working.

In such

cases, it is best to fill the area, if necessary by using suction dredgers.

Because of these considerations, concrete blocks are not suitable
in such cases, unless the strata is bouldery or non erodible. In such





customary to



blocks by


methods(chains anchored in the shore). They are very costly and may be
impossible to execute, if quantities are large both from the point of view
of casting and handling of concrete blocks.

Crated boulders launch

smoothly and being flexible, easily take the shape of the scoured beds
and are not lost as in case of concrete blocks.
For pitching guide bunds, slopes also, boulders in the form of grids
are used.

For upstream and Down stream side in guide bunds and

upstream of approach bank, suitable inverted filters are used with

provision of suitable weep holes above the ponding levels.

The usual

designs are available and have been found to be very successful.

Approach banks must however be provided with proper longitudinal and
cross drains so that side slope erosions can be prevented.
The aforesaid directions may be brought to the notice of all
concerned and suitable action must be taken, wherever needed. Ganga
Bridge at Patna & Mungher and one at Kosi must particularly be checked
and corrective action taken accordingly.

( R.R.Jaruhar )
Member Engineering