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Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556 www.elsevier.


A rough assessment of railway bridges for high speed trains

L. Fryba

Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prosecka 76, CZ-190 00 Prague 9, Czech Republic Received 24 January 2000; received in revised form 11 May 2000; accepted 12 May 2000

Abstract Resonance vibrations have been observed on railway bridges subjected to high speed trains. An elementary theoretical model of a bridge was investigated using the integral transformation method which provides an estimation of the amplitudes of the free vibration In addition, the analysis gives the critical speeds at which the resonance vibration may occur. They are caused by two reasons: repeated action of axle loads and high speed itself. While the rst cause of critical speeds has been reached on todays high speed lines the second one not yet. The maximum amplitudes of resonance vibration appear at the moment when the last axle leaves the bridge and, therefore, their values were calculated for the deection, bending moment and acceleration of the bridge deck. Simple expressions similar to dynamic impact factor were given to these values which enable to assess the railway bridges for high speed trains. Comparison of the theory with the experiments is satisfactory. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Dynamics of bridges; Resonance vibration; Railway bridges

1. Introduction Intensive vibration of some railway bridges subjected to high speed trains has been observed. It is suspected that this phenomenon could be caused by resonance due to the repeated action of axle forces. The classic case of resonance assumes harmonic force (periodically varying in time) which acts on the mechanical system. The resonance occurs if the frequency of an input force coincides with one of the natural frequencies of the system. Then, the amplitudes of the steady state forced vibrations grow without all limit if the system is not damped. Of course two necessary conditions should be fullled in the resonance case: a non-damped system and steady state vibration after a long time. Actually, these two conditions and the type of the input mentioned above cannot occur on real bridges. The bridges are always damped and the movement of a train along the bridge is a transient phenomenon. The train possesses a nite number of axles and the time for crossing a bridge is also limited The history of the bridge dynamics [1] has recognized several cases of the resonance vibration of railway

bridges. Firstly the unbalanced counterweights of steam locomotives resulted in a moving sine force which was the reason of the intensive vibration (see Fig. 1). The effects of steam locomotives were tackled in the classic book [3]. Secondly, the resonance vibration of railway bridges of large spans was mentioned in [4] where the author describes several cases (see Fig. 2). The bridges were subjected to four axle vehicles and the rails were jointed on bridges. The regular impacts of wheels in the gap of rail joints were the source of resonance vibration. The author called this phenomenon group impacts. While the rst two cases are no more actual on modern railways (steam locomotives are in museums and rail joints are not allowed on bridges), the new bridges suffer from the high speeds. Fig. 3 shows an example of a French bridge [5]. It was the maintenance service which rstly signalled that a destabilization of the ballast

* Tel.: +420-2-838-816-46. E-mail address: (L. Fryba).

Fig. 1. Vibration of a steel railway bridge of span 56.56 m due to a steam locomotive at the critical speed 38.8 km/h [2].

0141-0296/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 4 1 - 0 2 9 6 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 5 7 - 2

L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556


Fig. 2. Deectiontime histories of railway bridges subjected to group impacts of four-axles vehicles [4]: (a) l=66 m, c=4045 km/h; (b) l=77 m (c) l=77 m, c=56 km/h; (d) l=87.83 m; (e) reinforced arch l=120 m, c=56.5 km/h.

to the right-hand side (see Fig. 4). N is the number of axle forces in the train. The governing BernoulliEuler partial differential equation describes the behaviour of the beam: EI v(x,t) 4v(x,t) 2v(x,t) m 2mwd 4 2 x t t xn)Fn where it is denoted: v(x, t)=vertical deection of the beam at the point x and time t, E=modulus of elasticity, I=constant moment of inertia of the cross section of the beam, m=constant mass per unit length of the beam, wd=circular frequency of the damping and Fn=the nth axle force, en(t) h(t tn) h(t Tn), occurs on small and medium span bridges on high speed lines. Ballast destabilization results in the deterioration of passenger comfort, reduction of trafc safety (a possibility of derailment of vehicles) and higher maintenance costs (shorter maintenance intervals). The importance of the problem have led to the present study, the purpose of which is to analyse the problem, to develop simple expressions for the rst, rough and quick assessment of bridges in resonance conditions, the calculation of critical speeds, comparison with experiments and a quantication of interoperability which enables the international high speed trafc. h(t) 0 for t 0 1 for t 0 (2) (3)

n 1


Fig. 3. Accelerationtime history of a SNCF bridge of span 38 m subjected to a TGV train at speed 192 km/h [5].

2. Movement of a row of forces along a beam Let us assume an elementary theoretical model used in the bridge dynamics [1] and consider a simple beam of span l subjected to a row of forces Fn, n=1,2,3, , N, which are moving with constant speed c from the left

Fig. 4. Movement of a row of forces Fn long a beam of span l at speed c.


L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556

Heaviside unit function, tn dn/c time when the nth force enters the beam, Tn (l dn)/c (5) (4)

ferentiation with respect to time t. The LaplaceCarson integral transformation [2] V(j,p) p V(j,t)exppt dt,
0 a i

time when the nth force leaves the beam, d(x)=Dirac delta function describing the single concentrated force. xn ct dn, (6) dn=distance of the nth force from the rst one (see Fig. 4), d1 0, dn (n 1)d in the case of equidistant forces. The boundary conditions of a simply supported beam for x=0 and x=l and the zero initial conditions at the time t=0 when the rst force F1 enters the beam were considered. Consequently, the natural frequencies, wj, fj, and forms of natural vibration vj(x) of a non-damped simple beam are w
2 j

1 V(j,t) 2pi
a i

V(j,p) tp exp dp p


is applied to the Eq. (12)


V (j,p)


jwFn pd /c exp n F(p)[1 ( 1)j exppl/c] m 1


where it is denoted: F(p) w w

2 j 2 j

p , (p2+j 2w2)[(p+wd)2+wj 2]

(15) (16) (17) (18)

pc , l w2 w2 2iwdwj , j d w
2 j


2 d

j 4p4 EI wj ,f , j 1,2,3, l4 m j 2p jpx . l

(8) (9)

vj (x) sin

The method of integral transformations will be applied to the problem. The mutual relations of the Fourier integral transformation are [2]:

Deriving Eq. (14) the zero initial conditions and the transformation of the Heaviside unit function appearing in en(t), Eq. (2) and Eqs. (27.6) and (27.10) from [2] were applied. The inverse LaplaceCarson Eq. (13) and Fourier Eq. (10) transformations present the solution of the problem in the following form

j 1n

Fn v0 jww2[f(t tn)h(t tn) ( 1)j f(t 1 F 1 jpx l



v(x,t)vj (x) dx, m V(j,t)vj (x) V 1 j

Tn)h(t Tn)] sin



where the LaplaceCarson inverse transformation of Eq. (15) yields f(t) 1 wj sin (jwt l) expwd tsin (wj t j) wj D jw 2F 2Fl3 Fl3 mlw2 p4EI 48EI 1 (20)


with the notations mv (x) dx,

2 j




which gives for the simple beam Vj ml/2. The application of Eq. (10) to Eq. (1) gives


deection of a simple beam at its centre due to the force F=Fn placed at the same point, D2 (
2 j

j 2w2)2 4j 2w2w2, d 2jwwd , 2 2 2 j j w 2wdw j . w2w 2+j 2w2 d j

(22) (23) (24)

V(j,t) 2wdV(j,t)

2 j


Fn e (t)v (ct dn). m n j 1

l arctan (12) j arctan

The points over the symbols in Eq. (12) denote the dif-

L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556


Deriving Eqs. (19) and (20) the relation (27.41) from [2] was used. The rst term of the right-hand side of Eq. (20) expresses the forced vibration due to the moving forces while the second term denotes the free damped vihration, respectively. The step by step entrance of individual forces Fn to the beam at time tn as well as their departure at time Tn are described by the Heaviside unit functions h(t) in Eq. (19) as well as by their shifts in time t tn and t Tn. The bending moment of the beam M(x,t) EI 2v(x,t) x2

Fig. 5. The axle distances di of the trains TGV, THALYS 2 and EUROSTAR.

3. Critical speeds If the forces are at equidistant distances d Eq. (7), then a repeated action of axles could cause a resonance vibration. The resonance condition is calculated from the time necessary for crossing the distance d at speed c which is equal to the k-multiple of the period of natural vibration 1/fj d k , j 1,2,3, k 1,2,3,,1/2,1/3,1/4,. c fj The condition Eq. (32) provides the critical speeds ccr dfj , j 1,2,3 k 1,2,3,,1/2,1/3,1/4,. k (33) (32)

may be calculated in a similiar way and gives


j 1n

Fn V0 j 3ww2[f(t tn)h(t tn) 1 F 1 jpx , l


( 1)j f(t Tn)h(t Tn)] sin where M0 2Fl Fl p2 4


is the bending moment at the centre of a simple beam due to the force F=Fn applied to the same point. The vertical acceleration of the beam 2v(x,t) a(x,t) t2 is also important and yields


j 1n

Fn M0 jww2[f(t tn)h(t tn) 1 F 1 jpx l


( 1)j (t Tn)h(t Tn)] sin f where (t) f

w 2w2 jww j j d sin (jwt l) w j D w 2w2 j d expwd t sin (wj t j )

The length d denotes a characteristic (many times repeated) distance between two axles in one bogie or the distance between two bogies or a length of the vehicle as can be seen in Figs. 5 and 6. Eq. (33) provides the speeds that could be reached by present trains (see Table 1). The analysis of the accelerationtime history in Fig. 3 shows that the vehicle length is deciding for the resonance vibration. Fig. 3 presents the frequence f1=2.8 Hz and the distance d=18.7 m (Fig. 5) for the length of a TGV car which corresponds well to the reality [see Eq. (33)].


with j j arctan 2wdw j . w 2w2 j d (30)

When the derivative Eq. (27) was calculated, the zero time derivations of the Heaviside function Eq. (3) were taken into account in Eq. (28). In the previous equations the approximate relation D w2 j 2w2 j may he applied to low damping. (31)
Fig. 6. The axle distances di of the trains ICE 2 and ETR-Y.


L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556

Table 1 Critical speeds ccr according to Eq. (33) for j=1 and k=1, trains TGV, THALYS 2 and EUROSTAR Span l (m) 5 f1 (Hz) 16 di (m) 3.0 15.7 18.7 3.0 15.7 18.7 3.0 15.7 18.7 3.0 15.7 18.7 3.0 15.7 18.7 3.0 15.7 18.7 Speed ccr (km/h)

Table 2 Critical speeds ccr according to Eq. (36) Span l (m) 5 fj, j=1, 2, 3 (Hz) 16 64 144 8 32 72 5 20 45 4 16 36 3 12 27 2.5 10 22.5 Speed ccr (km/h) 576 1152 1728 576 1152 1728 540 1080 1620 576 1152 1728 648 1296 1944 720 1440 2160







172.8 904.3 1077.1 86.4 452.2 538.6 54.0 282.6 336.6 43.2 226.1 269.3 32.4 169.6 202.0 27.8 141.3 168.3






The deformation of the beam may increase also from another reason: speed. Analysing Eqs. (19) and (22) we see that for low damping, when

wj , j w,
2 2


Due to the properties of the Heaviside unit function the components of the forced vibrations vanish in (19) and (20) for t TN and the maximum amplitude of free vibration at the centre of the beam appears for j=1, k=1, Fn=F and x=l/2 in the following form

see (18) and (17), the deformations become very large if w

2 j



ww1 v0 [expwd(TNtn) expwd(TNTn)]. D 1


see the denominator D (22) in (20). The condition (35) yields another relation for the critical speed, see Eqs. (8), (16)(18): ccr 2lfj , j 1,2,3. j (36)

The expression in the brackets of (38) may be summed for n=1,2,3N because it forms a geometric progression with the quotient expwdd/c and gives


[expwd(TNtn) expwd(TNTn)]
n 1


The condition (36) gives, however, very high speeds in actual cases (see Table 2). The reason is that the beam looses its stability under moving forces in this case. Nevertheless the analysis indicates many cases of critical speeds that may cause a resonance vibration and/or its interference.

[1+expJ/(2a)][1expJdN/(2al)] . expJd/(2al)1 If the exponential functions in (39) are developed in a series and only the rst two terms are taken into account the expression takes approximately the following form EN 2 1 J N. 4a (40)

4. Estimation of maximum amplitudes of free vibration The beam centre x=l/2 is considered in the calculations which follow. Let us estimate the maximum amplitude of free vibration of the beam which is expected at the moment when the last force FN leaves the beam, i.e. at the time [cf. with Eq. (5)]: t TN l+dN . c (37)

It was denoted in the previous equations: a c 2f1l wd 2pz f1 100 (41)

speed parameter, and J (42)

L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556


logarithmic decrement of damping while z is the damping ratio in %. For long trains it may be assumed a very large number of axles N and the expressions (39) and (40) are simplied E 1+expJ/2(a) expJd/(2al)1 (43)

Table 3 Maximum amplitudes v and a of the free vibration for bridges of various spans l l G f1 F c d J v0 v/v0 a/g (m) 5 10 1000 8 15 2250 5 170 350 15 0.2 1.502 13.364 2.020 20 4000 4 30 9000 3

or approximately E 4al J 1 . Jd 4a (44)

(kN) 350 (Hz) 16 (kN) (km/h) (m) (1) 0.5 (mm) 0.943 Eq. (45) 1.238 Eq. (47) 1.203

0.3 1.320 4.559 1.550

0.15 1.320 19.509 1.658

0.1 1.043 30.602 1.189

The expression (39), (40), (43) or (44) may be put in Eq. (38) to receive a rough estimation of the maximum value of the amplitude of the beam which could appear after the last axle leaves the beam. In this way using the simplest expression (44), we obtain the amplitudes for the deection, bending moment and acceleration, respectively, in the following form: v M a 4a2bl v, Jd 0 4a2bl M, Jd 0 8a2bl F g Jd G (45) (46) (47)

5. Comparison with experiments The experiments on high speed lines [6,7], have shown that one of the decisive parameters for the bridge behaviour is the vertical acceleration of the bridge deck. It was just the acceleration which drew attention to this problem. Therefore, the data of 12 French bridges (from [5] and [6]) under the trafc of TGV high speed trains were summarized in Table 4 and the acceleration a calculated according to (47) were compared with experimental data aexp. The acceleration as the function of the speed is demonstrated in Fig. 7 [6]. Fig. 7 shows the experimental data measured in 1983 and 1998 with the application of two lters (open and solid symbols in Fig. 7). Unfortunately the results depend on the ltration which affects the acceleration amplitudes. The ltration method has not yet been unied and the records without lters can hardly be evaluated. Nevertheless, the comparison of the simplied theory with experiments is satisfactory and the set of data from Table 4 provides in the mean about 10% higher calculated values than the measured ones. The dispersion is rather high but it is, of course, a quite general sign of experiments in the eld tests.

where b 1J/(4a) , 1a2 (48) (49)

G mlg permanent load of the bridge, g 9.81 m/s2


gravitational constant. The expressions (45)(47) may be applied to the rst, rough and quick assessment of railway bridges subjected to high speed trains in resonance conditions in a similar way as the dynamic impact factor to the design of bridges in normal conditions. For that purpose the expressions could be brought in the form v/v0, M/M0 and a/g. The formulas (45)(47) include the most important parameters like the speed, span, natural frequency, damping, length of vehicles, their axle load and permanent load of the bridge. As they depend on the square of the speed it is, thus, explained why the resonance vibration appears at high speeds only. Eqs. (45)(47) present the highest estimation of the amplitudes and the interference of natural modes of vibration as well as various axle distances could diminish their values. Therefore they remain on the safe side. The amplitudes of the deection (45) and acceleration (47) of a row of bridges are demonstrated in Table 3.

6. Interoperability Interoperability is a technical expression which has been used by many specialists of several professions in recent time. However its denition is a little vague. The bridge engineers understand by interoperability the capability of a bridge to carry a particular train or vehicle running at certain speed. On the other hand the vehicle specialists understand interoperability by the technical conditions which ascertain that the train could move on a given railway line including bridges at the designed speed. Of course these conditions must be fullled on international lines without respect to the borders (Trans European High Speed System).


L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556

Table 4 Calculated a and measured aexp accelerations of SNCF bridges under TGV trains [5,6] Bridge SNCF

l (m) 38.00 12.83 17.43 10.90 14.40 9.70 16.80 9.62 10.40 12.00 15.51 12.12

f1 (Hz) 2.8 10.0 4.5 9.0 4.8 10.0 6.0 13.5 16.0 11.0 7.0 11.5

J (1) 0.031 0.314 0.251 0.251 0.314 0.314 0.188 0.251 0.251 0.188 0.251 0.188

G (kN) 12490 1680 2782 1363 2261 1251 2582 1178 1430 1920 2275 1673

c (km/h) 192 270 260 270 260 245 290 270 270 295 270 270

a (m/s2) 4.56 1.18 4.13 3.30 4.62 1.92 4.18 1.65 0.80 2.14 2.14 1.76

aexp (m/s2) 3.0 3.0 3.5 3.9 4.2 2.0 4.2 2.3 1.0 0.8 1.9 1.8

OA01.51 OA71.18 OA71.38 OA71.47 OA71.78 OA89.22b OA89.49 OA89.79 OA89.101 OA89.104 OA89.142
a b

The accelerationtime history (see Fig. 3). The accelerationspeed diagram (see Fig. 7).

dition that the resulting maximum acceleration (47) must be lower or equal to the values (51) ault a 8a2bl F g. Jd G (52)

We dene and quantify now the interoperability which should be distinguished for both bridges and vehicles. 6.1. Bridge interoperability Let us separate the vehicle and bridge parameters on the left and right-hand sides of the inequality (52) respectively. It yields B JGault F . 8a2blg d (53)

Fig. 7. The accelerations of a concrete SNCF bridge of span 16.8 m as a function of the speed. The parameters of the bridge are given in the row (2) in Table 4, see [6]. Comparison of the theory with experiments carried out in the years 1983 and 1998 using several lters (open and solid symbols).

If the bridge parameters B are known then the condition (53) gives the ratio F/d of the vehicle until the values (51) are crossed. In what follows the bridge parameters from Table 5 were applied to the calculation of the bridge interoperability constant B according to Eq. (53). The results are summarized in Table 6. The concrete and steel bridges are distinguished here and the empirical approximate formulas from [1]
Table 5 Bridge parameters for various spans Bridge material Parameter Bridge span l (m)

The experiments, [6,7], have demonstrated that the critical phenomenon on high speed lines is the destabilization of ballast on small and medium span bridges. The maximally acceptable (ultimate) value of the acceleration of the bridge deck was estimated as ault 3.5 m/s2 or ault 5 m/s2 (51)

5 Concrete G (kN) J (1) Steel G (kN) J (1) 350 0.5 200 0.25

10 1000 0.3 600 0.15

15 2250 0.2 1500 0.1

20 4000 0.15 2200 0.08

30 9000 0.1 5000 0.05

for the bridges with ballast or without ballast respectively [6]. The decisive criterion will be derived from the con-

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Table 6 Values of the bridge interoperability constant B (kN/m) calculated from Eq. (53) Bridge material Acceleration ault (m/s2) Speed c (km/h) Bridge span l (m) 5 Concrete 3.5 5.0 Steel 3.5 5.0 350 420 350 420 350 420 350 420 17.7 10.6 25.2 15.1 16.3 10.7 23.8 15.3 10 12.4 7.8 17.7 11.1 12.6 8.3 18.0 12.0 15 11.4 7.2 16.2 10.3 12.7 8.8 18.5 12.5 20 10.9 7.0 15.6 10.0 10.9 7.6 15.9 10.8 30 10.5 6.8 15.0 9.7 9.9 6.9 14.4 9.8

f1 140/l for concrete bridges and f1 250/l


parameters [it could be allowed with respect to the approximate relations (56)], then another simple condition arises V2 8a2bFg JG , dault l (58)


for steel bridges were applied to the numerical calculation (f1 is in Hz and l in m). Then Eq. (41) gives (c in m/s) : a c/280 or a c/500, respectively. (56)

Table 6 shows that the ratio F/d decreases with increasing span and speed but increases with increasing ultimate acceleration. 6.2. Vehicle interoperability Another case arises if the vehicle parameters are known and we seek the conditions for a bridge. The suitable separation of parameters in the inequality (52) gives the condition. Fg JGf 2l 1 V1 2 . dault c2b (57)

whereby b has a low effect. The vehicle interoperability constants V2 were calculated using the parameters mentioned earlier and are given in Table 8 for various bridge materials, accelerations, speeds and lengths d. As above the constants V1 and V2 seem to be realistic for the distance d equals to the length of the vehicle. The suggested denitions of interoperability (53), (57) and (58) are equivalent and it is the question of the time which of them will be accepted by technical public.

7. Conclusions Railway bridges subjected to high speed trains provide intensive vibration similar to the resonance phenomenon.

The vehicle interoperability constant V1 is calculated according to (57) and the results are shown in Table 7. The values F=170 kN and the distances d=18.7 m for TGV, Thalys 2 and Eurostar while d=26.1 m for ETR-Y were used as well as the limits for the acceleration (51). If the speed parameter (41) is included among the train
Table 7 Values of the vehicle interoperability constant V1 (kN/m) calculated from Eq. (57)

Table 8 Values of the vehicle interoperability constant V2 (kN/m) calculated from Eq. (58) Bridge material Acceleration Speed c (km/h) ault (m/s2) Length d (m) of the vehicle TGV 18.7 Concrete 3.5 5.0 350 420 350 420 350 420 350 420 24.1 37.7 16.8 26.4 7.0 10.4 4.9 7.3 ETR-Y 26.1 17.2 27.1 12.1 19.0 5.0 7.4 3.5 5.2

Acceleration ault (m/s2)

Length d (m) of the vehicle TGV 18.7 ETR-Y 26.1 37 26


3.5 5.0

3.5 5.0

51 36


L. Fryba / Engineering Structures 23 (2001) 548556

It arises at speeds higher than 200 km/h on small and medium spans. The resonance vibration of railway bridges results in the deterioration of passenger comfort, reduction of trafc safety (a possibility of derailment of vehicles) and the destabilization of ballast (higher maintenance costs). The simplest elementary theoretical model (simple beam subjected to a row of forces) was analysed using the method of integral transformations. It results in simple formulas (45)(47) for the maximum amplitudes of the free vibration of deection, bending moment and acceleration of the bridge deck at the moment when the last axle leaves the bridge. These values transformed in v/v0, M/M0 and a/g similar to the dynamic impact factors may be applied to the assessment or design of bridges if the rst form of natural vibration is similar to the sine form (simple beam, continuous beam with equal spans, etc.). The amplitudes of resonance vibration depend on the square of speed and on the span of the bridge and inversely on damping, vehicle length and bridge rigidity. Moreover, the acceleration depends also on the ratio of the axle load to the permanent load of the bridge. Two reasons of resonance vibration of railway bridges on high speed lines were discovered: repeated action of axle loads and loss of stability under moving forces. While the rst reason appears actually on high speed lines at todays speeds the second one is not yet actual. The critical speeds (33) and (36) were derived for both cases. The simple formulas (45)(47) may serve for the rst, rough and quick assessment of bridges. For a detailed dynamic analysis, the idealization of a bridge by nite elements and of the vehicles by a system with lumped masses, springs and dampers is recommended [1]. The other approaches, taking into account the inertial effects of vehicles, track irregularities, sleeper and cross girder effects, etc., are also possible. Further information about the problem may be found in [6,815]. The interoperability of high speed trains on railway bridges was dened and quantied in the form of interoperability constants B for bridges or V for vehicles. They proceed from the condition that the running train does not cross the ultimate vertical acceleration of the bridge deck. The derived interoperability conditions (53), (57) or (58) are very simple and the entering constants are well known or could be easily calculated or measured. They may be applied to a quick assessment of bridges or vehicles suitable for high speed trafc.

Acknowledgements The support of ERRI, the programme KONTAKT ME 154/2000 and grants 103/96/K034 and 103/98/1479 from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic is gratefully acknowledged.

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