The lateral displacement response of geogrid-reinforced ballast under cyclic loading
Ballast being an unbounded granular medium spreads laterally when subjected to high-frequency cyclic loading. To reduce lateral movement of ballast and to optimize track performance, rail tracks can be reinforced with geogrid. In this study, a novel large-scale process simulation test (PST) apparatus that can capture the lateral strain variation upon loading is described. Laboratory tests were conducted to explore the deformation and degradation response of both unreinforced and reinforced ballast under high-frequency cyclic loading. Fresh Latite basalt having an average particle size (D50) of 35mm, and geogrids with different aperture sizes were tested. The laboratory experimental results reveal that the ballast deformation (both lateral and vertical) and the breakage during cyclic loading are influenced by the geogrid type and its placement location. Moreover, the lateral strain profiles along the ballast depth have been measured and the geogrid influence zone (GIZ), defined as the distance to which the effect of geogrid in arresting the lateral displacement of ballast exists, has been determined. The GIZ is found to vary from 160mm (4.60D50) to 225mm (6.45D50) depending on the location of the geogrid. In addition, the optimum geogrid position in the track has been identified to be 65mm above the subballast. The test results also exemplify the ability of geogrid to arrest lateral displacement of ballast, reduce settlement and minimize particle degradation under high-frequency cyclic loading.