LCC-Based Appraisal of Ballasted and Slab Tracks: Limits and Potential

Filippo Giammaria Pratico, Marinella Giunta


The increase in train speed and axle load is an important goal to achieve in the future.  From a technical standpoint, ballastless tracks seem to be suitable to the aim, especially when high-speed passenger trains share the track with freight trains. Based on the above, the primary objective of this study is the comparison between ballasted and slab tracks regarding total costs over the life course. A suitable model to evaluate the total costs of competing solutions is set up. A solution for solving the issue of CO2 price fluctuation and for the quantification of External Costs is also formulated.  Life Cycle Costs are estimated based on agency, environmental and present user values. Analyses and results show that when Life Cycle Costing-based approaches are applied: i) Agency Costs have to be considered in the long-term perspective; ii) expected life has an appreciable impact and several solutions and systems, more affordable in the short term, yield unfavourable maintenance and renewal processes; iii) if total costs are considered over track life, the breakeven point is very far from the construction. Furthermore, the differences between the total Present Values of the two solutions become too small to yield sound conclusions in favour of the ballasted vs. the ballastless solution.


ballasted track (BT); high-speed rail; Life Cycle Costing (LCC); slab track (ST)

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DOI: 10.7250/bjrbe.2018-13.429


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