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Embankment Stabilization Techniques for Railroads on Permafrost

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

Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI

Zachary Vallos

OmniTRAX Inc., Denver, CO

Paper No. JRC2016-5731, pp. V001T01A008; 9 pages
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • Columbia, South Carolina, USA, April 12–15, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4967-5
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Degrading permafrost conditions around the world has resulted in stability issues for civil structures founded on top of them. Railway lines have very limited tolerance for differential settlements, making it a priority for railway owners in permafrost regions to consider embankment stabilization measures that ensure smooth and safe operations.

Several passive and active engineered solutions have been developed to address the permafrost stability issues, such as awnings, shading boards, crushed rock embankments, ventiduct embankments, and thermosyphons. Local site conditions, including soil type, soil temperature, ice content, and precipitation determines which method is selected for a particular site and in most cases the best stabilization solution is a combination of two or more alternatives. When potential solution can be identified, it will only be implemented if perceived benefits exceed the implementation and maintenance costs.

This paper aims to provide a brief literature review on some common embankment stabilization solutions with consideration to the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) in northern Manitoba, Canada which has been witnessing thaw settlements for extensive time period. It will discuss the applicability of the different methods, the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods, as well as the benefits to be derived by utilizing a combination of methods.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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