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A Review of Past Geotechnical Performance of the Hudson Bay Rail Embankment and Its Comparison to the Current Condition

[+] Author Affiliations
Priscilla E. Addison, Thomas Oommen, Pasi Lautala

Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI

Paper No. JRC2015-5780, pp. V001T01A033; 8 pages
  • 2015 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2015 Joint Rail Conference
  • San Jose, California, USA, March 23–26, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5645-1
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


The Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) is a 510 mile railway completed in 1929 in northern Manitoba, Canada. It connects domestic locations in North America with international destinations through the Port of Churchill.

Permafrost was encountered during construction at milepost 136 in isolated peat bogs which continued in a gradual northward transition from discontinuous to continuous permafrost. Over the past 80 years, warming climate combined with poor engineering properties of the railway embankment material has resulted in further thawing of the discontinuous permafrost leading to differential settlement along the rail embankment and high annual maintenance costs.

In a bid to understand the geothermal regime of the embankment, underlying subsurface condition, and to seek for solutions to stabilize the embankment, extensive work has been done from 1977 to the present time. This paper seeks to review reports of the past projects and compare the results against current conditions at selected test locations.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Levees , Rails



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