Life cycle assessment of a railway bridge: comparison of two superstructure designs

Guangli Du, Raid Karoumi

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    38 Citations (Scopus)
    161 Downloads (Pure)


    Railway bridges currently encounter the challenges of increasing the load capacity while the environmental sustainability should be achieved. However, it has been realised that the environmental assessment of railway bridges has not been integrated into the decision-making process, the standard guideline and criterion is still missing in this field. Therefore, the implementation of life cycle assessment (LCA) method is introduced into railway bridges. This article provides a systematic bridge LCA model as a guideline to quantify the environmental burdens for the railway bridge structures. A comparison case study between two alternative designs of Banafjäl Bridge is further carried out through the whole life cycle, with the consideration of several key maintenance and end-of-life scenarios. Six impact categories are investigated by using the LCA CML 2001 method and the known life cycle inventory database. Results show that the fixed-slab bridge option has a better environmental performance than the ballasted design due to the ease of maintenances. The initial material manufacture stage is responsible for the largest environmental burden, while the impacts from the construction machinery and material transportations are ignorable. Sensitivity analysis illustrates the maintenance scenario planning and steel recycling have the significant influence on the final results other than the traffic disturbances.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalStructure & Infrastructure Engineering
    Issue number11
    Pages (from-to)1149
    Number of pages1,160
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • environment,
    • rail track design
    • maintenance,
    • global warming,
    • life-cycle performance,
    • infrastructure management,
    • Life cycle assessment (LCA)


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