Direct shear of railway ballast: numerical model and its calibration


  • Sílvio Tumelero de Moraes University of São Paulo, Department of Structural Engineering and Geotechnics
  • Paulo Pereira University of São Paulo, Department of Transport Engineering
  • Alfredo Gay Neto University of São Paulo, Department of Structural Engineering and Geotechnics
  • Liedi Liedi Bernucci University of São Paulo, Department of Transport Engineering
  • Rosângela Mota University of São Paulo, Department of Transport Engineering
  • Edson Moura University of São Paulo, Departamento de Engenharia de Transportes



Discrete element method, calibration, direct shear


This paper aims to compare the representation of the railway ballast, through computational modeling by the Discrete Element Method (DEM), when submitted to the direct shear box test. The parameters of greatest variability in the literature are analyzed: coefficient of friction, modulus of elasticity and coefficient of rolling resistance. This analysis appears in order to understand how these parameters affect the final macroscopic result of the calibration simulation, verifying both the shear stress and the volumetric variation. Models composed of spherical particles are compared with models composed of digitalized polyhedral particles. It was possible to verify the difficulty of spherical particle models in reaching the expected stress level, such as well initial contraction denoted by the volumetric variation seen in laboratory. Finally, it was possible to better calibrate the model through the digitalized polyhedral particles, which provided a better description for the stress level and volumetric variation of the ballast material.


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