Characterization of railway substructure using a hybrid cone penetrometer

Yong Hoon Byun, Won Taek Hong, Jong Sub Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in substructure conditions, such as ballast fouling and subgrade settlement may cause the railway quality deterioration, including the differential geometry of the rails. The objective of this study is to develop and apply a hybrid cone penetrometer (HCP) to characterize the railway substructure. The HCP consists of an outer rod and an inner mini cone, which can dynamically and statically penetrate the ballast and the subgrade, respectively. An accelerometer and four strain gauges are installed at the head of the outer rod and four strain gauges are attached at the tip of the inner mini cone. In the ballast, the outer rod provides a dynamic cone penetration index (DCPI) and the collected DCPI (CDCPI) with the energy transferred into the rod head. Then, the inner mini cone is pushed to estimate the strength of the subgrade from the cone tip resistance. Laboratory application tests are performed on the specimen, which is prepared with gravel and sandy soil. In addition, the HCP is applied in the field and compared with the standard dynamic cone penetration test. The results from the laboratory and the field tests show that the cone tip resistance is inversely proportional to the CDCPI. Furthermore, in the subgrade, the HCP produces a high-resolution profile of the cone tip resistance and a profile of the CDCPI in the ballast. This study suggests that the dynamic and static penetration tests using the HCP may be useful for characterizing the railway substructure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1101
Number of pages17
JournalSmart Structures and Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 1


  • Cone tip resistance
  • Dynamic cone penetration index
  • Dynamic cone penetrometer
  • Mini cone
  • Railway substructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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