Year of Publication


Document Type





Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Jerry G. Rose


It has been desirable for years to develop non-intrusive/non-invasiveprocedures to determine the pressures and stresses at various levels andinterfaces in the railroad track structure in order to optimize track designs andimprove subsequent track performance. Recent research has developedsatisfactory procedures for measuring pressures in the track structure at theballast/subballast/subgrade levels using earth pressure cells. The researchreported in this thesis documents the development of a technique for measuringthe pressures in the track, at the rail/tie plate/tie interfaces, using a very thinpressure sensitive Tekscan sensor. The Tekscan Measurement System uses asensor composed of a matrix-based array of force sensitive cells, similar to ministrain gauges, to obtain accurate pressure distributions between two surfaces inthe track. This thesis specifically describes: 1) the optimum procedure to installthe sensors into the track, 2) the recommended practices to effectively collectdata with the software, and 3) the accepted techniques for analyzing the results.Both laboratory calibration and in-track testing have been conducted and theresults are presented. The findings attest to the usefulness and practicality of theprocedure for accurately measuring pressures in railroad tracks. The proceduremay also be applicable for a wide variety of specific track related measurementssuch as validating curve geometric criteria, assessing crossing diamond impactpressures, and evaluating the advantages/disadvantages of various types of tieplates, fastenings and tie compositions.