Condition Monitoring of Railway Bridges Using Vehicle Pitch to Detect Scour

Claire McGeown, David Hester, Eugene J OBrien, Chul-Woo Kim, Paul Fitzgerald, Vikram Pakrashi

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This study proposes the new condition monitoring concept of using features in the measured rotation, or 'pitch' signal, of a crossing vehicle as an indicator of the presence of foundation scour in a bridge. The concept is explored through two-dimensional vehicle-bridge interaction modelling, with a reduction in stiffness under a pier used to represent the effects of scour. A train consisting of three 10-degree-of-freedom carriages cross the model on a profiled train track, each train varying slightly in terms of mass and velocity. An analysis of the pitch of the train carriages can clearly identify when scour is present. The concept is further tested in a scaled laboratory experiment consisting of a tractor-trailer crossing a four-span simply supported bridge on piers. The foundation support is represented by four springs under each pier, which can be replaced with springs of a reduced stiffness to mimic the effect of scour. The laboratory model also consistently shows a divergence in vehicle pitch between healthy and scoured bridge states.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1684
Number of pages19
JournalSensors (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 05 Mar 2024


  • Erosion
  • Rotation
  • Indirect
  • Pitch
  • Structural Health Monitoring
  • Bridge
  • Scour
  • Drive-by


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