FRA Improved Concrete
Crossties and Fastening Systems for US High
Speed Rail and Joint Passenger/Freight Corridors

The Rail Transportation and Research Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is currently conducting research to improve concrete crossties and fastening systems. This work is funded by the Federal Railway Administration's (FRA) through their Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 2010-1.


Improved Concrete Crossties and Fastening Systems for US High Speed Passenger Rail and Joint Passenger/Freight Corridors


  1. Develop a mechanistic design approach for concrete crossties and fastening system design in the US.
  2. Conduct experimental laboratory and field testing that will lead to improved recommended practices for design.
  3. Conduct a comprehensive international literature review and state-of-the-art assessment for design and performance of concrete crossties and fastening systems.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Holistic understanding of the current state-of-the-art in tie and fastener research, designs, and performance throughout the world - This data, which will be collected through meetings, surveys, and other methods, and will serve as a basis for all US researchers that are focusing their efforts on ties and fasteners.
  2. Improved safety - due to future improvements to the robustness of critical infrastructure components (e.g. crossties, pads, insulators, fasteners, etc.) stemming from a greater understanding of the loads that components must withstand.
  3. Reduced life cycle costs - Lengthened maintenance intervals will result in lower life cycle costs, increasing the capacity available to operate trains and reducing annual operating costs for burgeoning high speed and intercity passenger rail systems.
  4. Improved understanding of tie/fastener loading path - Analytical understanding (through instrumentation,testing, and modeling) of how loads are transferred through the fastening systems and rail seat of a concrete tie.


30 months

Industry Partners:

Amtrak; BNSF Railway; GIC Ingenieria y Construccion S.A. de C.V.; Hanson Professional Services Inc.; LB Foster Company, CXT Concrete Ties; Union Pacific Railway; and Amsted RPS/Amsted Rail Inc.

Amsted Rail




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