This paper presents a laboratory study of interface behavior between ballast and geogrid under various degree of fouling by coal fines. The stress-displacement behaviour of fresh and fouled ballast with geogrid was investigated through a series of large-scale direct shear tests where the fouling degree varied from 0% to 95% Void Contamination Index (VCI), at normal stresses ranging from 15kPa to 75kPa. The results showed that geogrid enhances the shear strength and increases apparent angle of shearing resistance, while only slightly reduces the vertical displacement of the composite geogrid-ballast system. However, when ballast was contaminated by coal fines, the influences of geogrid reinforcement decreased in proportion to the increasing level of fouling. A conceptual normalized shear strength model was introduced to calculate this decrease in peak shear stress and peak angle of shearing resistance caused by coal fouling.