Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 639–653 | Cite as

Measured properties of structural damping in railway bridges

  • Vincenzo GattulliEmail author
  • Egidio Lofrano
  • Achille Paolone
  • Francesco Potenza
Original Paper


Dissipative properties of a structural system are difficult to be characterized in real structure. Nevertheless, damping features may be dominant in several operating conditions of railway bridges influencing fatigue life or passenger comfort during train passage. Observations treating real data acquired in operational condition on steel and concrete railway bridges belonging to the Italian network permits to highlight dissipative sources and features. Consequently, linearized modal damping ratios are evaluated through a recursive process on the acceleration signals acquired before, during and after train passages and/or in environmental conditions. Stochastic Subspace Identification has been used to identify state-space dynamical models able to reproduce the vibrations. Through these models, characterized by an increasing number of state-space variables, it is possible to extract modal damping ratios. A mechanical interpretation of damping characteristics is pursued through the evaluation of the differences with respect to a classical Rayleigh proportional damping matrix of the viscous matrix belonging to the identified state-space models determined through the system spectral features. A non-proportional damping index is presented as a basis to determine the influence of different sources of non-proportionality in the damping matrix (as the ballast layer under the track) and to justify the high value of damping observed in specific experimental campaigns.


Structural damping Dynamic identification Non-proportional damping Railway bridges Experimental results Beam bridges 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the Italian Government under Cipe resolution n.135 (Dec. 21, 2012), project INnovating City Planning through Information and Communication Technologies. The results of the steel bridge are part of a project that has received funding from the Research Fund for Coal and Steel under grant agreement No 800687.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Structural and Geotechnical EngineeringSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Construction-Architectural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly

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