A failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) was applied to improve the design of concrete ties in ballasted track for North American heavy haul applications. A literature review was conducted on concrete tie failure modes, failure effects, and failure causes. A survey of railroads and transit authorities in North America provided a ranking of the most critical concrete tie failure modes. The most important problem for heavy haul service was found to be rail seat deterioration (RSD). The contributing factors, related failure modes, and deterioration mechanisms of RSD are discussed.