Tuesday 10 March 2020

UIC Track & Structure sector has published the “Catalogue of Damages in Masonry Arch Bridges”

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In 2003 UIC set up the working group Masonry Arch Bridges which managed the projects “Improving assessment, optimisation of maintenance and development of database for masonry arch bridges” (2004 – 2007) and “Assessment of masonry arch bridges” (2011 – 2015).

The results of the completed work during the project has been the basis for updating leaflet 778-3 and migrating it into IRS 70778-3 “Recommendations for the inspection, assessment and maintenance of masonry arch bridges”.

The background documents providing further detailed information and guidance are currently available on the UIC Extranet to registered users only. To give a wider audience access to this precious knowledge, the PoSE (Panel of Structural Experts) decided in 2019 to publish selected background documents.

The first document of this selection is the Catalogue of Damages in masonry arch bridges.

The development of the Catalogue of Damages began in 2004. The work was coordinated by ADIF and developed by Mr José Martín Caro (INES, external consultant).

The railway companies that contributed to this catalogue were CD, DB, IR, JBV, MAV, Network Rail, ÖBB, PKP, ADIF, REFER, RFI, RTRI, SBB and SNCF.

After creation of a collection of defects in existing masonry arch bridges, the analysis and study of the data led to some preliminary conclusions. For example, the main characteristics of the types of defects according to this type of bridge were defined. In a second phase, the most probable causes of defects and mechanisms of deterioration were analysed and described to complete the catalogue.

The numerous masonry arch bridges in our networks are resilient and robust constructions but show a quite different behaviour to steel and concrete bridges. Thus, if treated in an appropriate way they can be kept in service for a long life-span while producing a low maintenance cost.

The damage catalogue is a very useful tool to improve how to “read” this type of bridge in order to understand the causes of defects and to decide on an adequate treatment.

The know-how on design, construction and maintenance of these bridges has to be carefully protected, not only to keep the existing bridges but also to build new masonry arch bridges.
Providing the IRS 70778-3, the workshops, the video recordings (see https://bit.ly/304ITB8) and now also the background documents, UIC helps to preserve this expertise for the bridge engineers and asset managers.

You can find the document in the UIC ETF shop at the following link:


The preparation of two other background documents that have been selected for publication by the PoSE is already ongoing:

“Guide for execution and control of repairs – “Cleaning Manual” and “Guide for execution and control of repairs – Maintenance and replacement of existing masonry”.

Furthermore, the second edition of IRS 70778-3 will be published soon, according to the PoSE decision available in EN, FR and DE versions.

For further information please contact Harald Sattler, Senior Infrastructure Advisor:


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