In this paper, the effects of various parameters influencing the dynamic response of railway bridges are investigated. A versatile and computationally efficient numerical model was developed for this purpose. The model incorporates three-dimensional multi-body train and finite element bridge subsystems. The corresponding equations of motion are integrated numerically by applying the Newmark's method combined with a modified Newton-Raphson iterative procedure. The model was verified by comparisons with analytical and numerical solutions available in the literature and good agreement was found. A parametric analysis was carried out to establish the key variables influencing the dynamic response of railway bridges. The speed of the train, train-to-bridge frequency, mass and span ratios, as well as bridge damping were identified as significant variables. Vehicle damping was found to have negligible influence on bridge response. Particularly strong dynamic amplification was found for train with shortly and regularly spaced axles travelling at the critical speeds. Other general conclusions were drawn on the basis of the parametric study. (C) 2007 Civil-Comp Ltd and Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.