Ballasted rail tracks form one of the most important worldwide transportation modes in terms of traffic tonnage, serving the needs of bulk freight and passenger movement. High impact and cyclic loads can cause a significant deformation leading to poor track geometry. In order to mitigate these problems, the concept of the inclusion of geosynthetics in rail tracks is introduced. This paper presents the current state-of-the-art knowledge of rail track geomechanics, including results obtained from laboratory testing, field investigations and numerical modelling to study the load-deformation behaviour of ballast improved by geosynthetics. The shear stress-strain and deformation behaviour of geosynthetic-reinforced ballast are investigated in the laboratory using a large-scale direct shear test device, a track process simulation apparatus and a drop-weight impact testing equipment. Computational modelling using the discrete-element method is employed to simulate geosynthetic-reinforced ballasted tracks, capturing the discrete nature of ballast aggregates when subjected to various types of loading and boundary conditions. Discreteelement modelling is also used to conduct micromechanical analysis at the interface between ballast and geogrid, providing further insight into the behaviour of ballast subjected to cyclic loadings. These results provide promising approaches to incorporate into existing track design routines catering for future high-speed trains and heavier heavy hauls.
Available for download on Wednesday, February 27, 2019