Ballasted rail tracks are the most important mode of transportation in terms of traffic tonnage serving the needs of bulk freight and passenger movement, but under train loads, the particles degrade due to breakage and the progressive accumulation of external fines or mud-pumping under the subgrade, all of which reduce its shear strength and increase track instability. These actions adversely affect the safety, passenger comfort and efficiency of tracks, as well as enforcing speed restrictions and more frequent track maintenance. In spite of advances in rail track geotechnology, the optimum choice of ballast for track design is still considered critical because ballast degradation is influenced by the amplitude and number of load cycles, particle gradation, track confining pressure and the angularity and fracture strength of individual grains. One of the most effective methods of enhancing track stability and reducing the stresses transmitted to a soft subgrade layer is to increase the stiffness of the overlying granular media. This paper presents our current knowledge of rail track geomechanics, including important concepts/topics related to laboratory testing and computational modelling approaches used to study the load-deformation behaviour of ballast improved with waste tyres, synthetic geogrids and geocells.
Available for download on Friday, August 03, 2018