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Performance-Based Specifications for Concrete Railroad Tie Freeze-Thaw Durability

Document Series
Technical Reports
Federal Railroad Administration
Report Number
Subject Tracks & Structures
Concrete railroad ties, freeze-thaw durability, manufacturing process control
UF Freeze-Thaw.pdf (2.97 MB)

The University of Florida and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in partnership with the Austrian firm voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak, developed a performance-based manufacturing control process for ensuring the freeze-thaw durability of concrete railroad ties. Air entrainment of concrete is known to provide freeze-thaw durability, but there remains concern about how vibration and the handling of fresh concrete might degrade the size and spacing of air bubbles. Therefore, concrete railroad tie freeze-thaw durability has traditionally been measured by saw-cutting hardened concrete samples from product for freeze-thaw testing. Because damage can occur during the saw-cutting process, false negative results can occur. The relationship between concrete fresh air content and the hardened air void system after consolidation is mixture- and process-dependent. The research team developed and tested a method to determine the minimum fresh air content required to ensure durability. This project demonstrated a performance-based approach to determine the fresh concrete minimum air content required to provide sufficient air voids for durability after consolidation. Recommendations for changes to current AREMA concrete railroad tie specifications are given to ensure freeze-thaw durability in track.

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Last updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2024