The water flow into a vertical drain under an embankment loading is axisymmetric problem and therefore, the vertical drain system must be converted into equivalent plane strain model. The matching is achieved by manipulating the drain spacing and/or soil permeability according to relatively simple rules. This paper investigates the verification of matching approaches by comparing 2D plane strain and 3D unit cell results when complex constitutive models are used in the finite element analyses. The numerical results showed that the match was found to be satisfactory but not perfect. A full-scale plane strain analysis is subsequently applied to an embankment case history taken from Haarajoki, Finland, stabilized vertical drains and compared with field measurements. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.