A Review of Ballast Characteristics, Geosynthetics, Confining Pressures and Native Vegetation in Rail Track Stabilisation

Institution of Engineers Australia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Transport Engineering in Australia, 2009, 12 (1), pp. 25 - 36
Issue Date:
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Given the increased demand for freight transport for the mining and agriculture industries, and for greater public transport via trains due to increased fuel costs, heavier cyclic loading on existing tracks is now inevitable. Construction of rail tracks requires appropriate ballast specification to increase stability and performance of railway tracks. This paper aims to demonstrate and discuss some major aspects in relation to stabilisation of ballasted rail tracks overlying soft formation soils using geocomposites, prefabricated vertical drains and native vegetation. The use of geocomposites (ie. bonded geogrid-geotextile layers) for enhancing the performance of fresh and recycled ballast is described, with the aim of achieving reduced track settlement, increased resilient modulus and decreased ballast degradation. The effects of increasing the confi ning pressure on rail track behaviour, particularly with regard to particle breakage, have been studied using large-scale laboratory tests under cyclic loads. An elastoplastic stress-strain constitutive model for ballast was developed at the University of Wollongong, incorporating the degradation of particles as a particular feature, was introduced by capturing the breakage of particles during shearing, and the effects of cyclic loading on particle degradation and plastic deformation. In addition, numerical simulation using discrete element method has been carried out an assembly of irregular particles to investigate the mechanism of ballast breakage and to quantify breakage in relation to the ballast particle size distribution.
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