Publication Details

Indraratna, B., Ngo, N. & Rujikiatkamjorn, C. (2017). Improved Performance of Ballasted Rail Tracks using Plastics and Rubber Inclusions. Procedia Engineering, 189 207-214.


Current railroads require significant upgrading to meet the challenges of heavier loads at higher speeds. Due to excessive track degradation, the Australian rail industry spends large amounts on frequent track repair and maintenance, as well as ground improvement prior to track construction where soft and saturated subgrade soils pose considerable difficulties in design and construction. Moreover, the degradation of ballast particles under impact loading seriously hampers the safety and efficiency of rail tracks, which leads to speed restrictions and more frequent track upgrading. Hence, there is a need for innovative design solutions that can extend the service life of tracks to cater for faster and heavier train traffic. The use of planar geosynthetics and recycled rubber mats placed at the interface of ballast and subballast layer has proven an effective approach to mitigate ballast degradation and improve track longevity. This paper presents the current state-of-the-art knowledge of rail track geomechanics conducted at the University of Wollongong (UOW) including topics relating to laboratory testing and computational modeling approaches. The load-deformation responses of rubber mat/geogrid-stabilised ballast are studied in the laboratory using a large-scale drop weight impact testing facility, and Track Process Simulation Apparatus (TPSA). Numerical modelling using discrete element methods (DEM) are used to model geogrid-reinforced ballasted tracks, capturing both the discrete nature of ballast subject to various types of loading and boundary conditions. These results provide promising approaches to incorporate into the existing track design routines catering for future high speed and heavy haul trains.



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