Transition zones between structures as bridges or box culverts frequently present higher degradation rates compared to the remaining railway. This paper presents a numerical model for the dynamic loads on the ballast caused by trains passing a transition. The model was validated with field data obtained from an extensive field survey conducted in two transition zones in the Netherlands. Results show that the forces on the ballast vary significantly both in time and space on a transition, especially with the appearance of voids under the sleepers. Implications of the results on the long-term behaviour of transition zones are presented.