Irish Rail Cutting & Embankment Risk Model and Decision Support Tool

This project involved the analysis of over 3000 slopes on the Irish Rail network and development of an associated decision support tool for risk analysis and asset management of the national railway network.  In recent years Irish Rail has developed strategic asset management programmes for their bridge assets, track assets and level crossings. To ensure the safe and reliable operation of the entire network Irish Rail is keen to extend this approach to consider the cutting and embankment slopes across the country. GDG was commissioned to develop a proactive framework for managing the cutting and embankment slope assets on a national level.  This project involved interfacing closely with the client (Irish Rail) and developing a user-friendly software system that tied in with existing maintenance procedures and monitoring protocols. The scope of work included cuttings, embankments and retaining walls. 

Scope of work:

  • Analysing Lidar data and developing an inventory of embankment assets. This involved engineering analysis to determine worst case slope geometries that may occur due to changing gradients, convex features or simply overly steep sections.
  • An analytical analysis of every slope was undertaken using a combination of traditional failure surfaces coupled with a probabilistic model to account for uncertainties in the underlying datasets.
  • Detailed engineering and design of embankments and cut slopes was undertaken to develop maintenance strategies to improve the risk profile of the network
  • Retaining wall analysis and design was undertaken for the spread of assets on the Irish Rail Network (Concrete; Masonry and Sheet Piles)
  • A decision support tool was developed that incorporates a cost-benefit model
  • The risk model incorporates a range of factors including the  drainage design, weather modelling, slip history, etc.