Rail is one of the largest transportation modes offering freight and passenger traffic in rapidly developing nations, including India. Conscious efforts to improve productivity, modernization and technology upgrading have led to an impressive growth in railways. Large-scale physical modeling, sophisticated numerical modeling and full-scale field monitoring often provide significant knowledge to better understand track performance and to extend the current state-of-the-art in design. A series of large-scale laboratory tests were conducted to establish relationships between (i) ballast breakage and train speed, (ii) ballast fouling and strength and (iii) interface strength and geogrids. Comprehensive field trials were carried out on instrumented track sections in Bulli and in Singleton, New South Wales, Australia. This keynote paper provides an insight to design and construction challenges of rail tracks capturing the effects of particle degradation, fouling, geosynthetics, and increased train speed.