Rail track substructure (ballast, subballast and subgrade) is the most essential component of the railway system in view of track stability. The ballast is the largest component of the track substructure and it is the key load-bearing stratum packed with rock aggregates underneath and around the sleepers, thereby providing structural support against dynamic stresses caused by moving trains. However under large dynamic stresses exerted by heavy haul and high speed trains, the degradation of track substructure including ballast becomes significant. This in turn affects the track stability and creates frequent maintenance, thus increasing the life cycle cost of the rail network. Therefore, mitigating degradation of the ballast layer is vital in view of track longevity. In recent years, the use of resilient soft pads (shock mats) above the ballast (i.e. Under Sleeper Pad, USP) and below the ballast (i.e. Under Ballast Mat, UBM) has become a common practice. Many countries, including Australia have adopted the use of resilient pads in the rail track foundation. Currently, the studies on resilient mats are mostly limited to the reduction of vibration and noise. There is a lack of proper assessment of the geotechnical behavior of ballast when used along with shock mats. This paper provides an assessment of the triaxial behavior of the track substructure with and without shock mats under dynamic loading condition. A numerical model was developed based on the modified stress-dilatancy approach to capture the stress-strain and volume change behavior of ballast during impact loading. Model predictions are compared with laboratory results. It was found that the shock mats provide significant advantages in terms of reduced particle breakage and enhanced track stability.
Navaratnarajah, S. K., Indraratna, B. & Nimbalkar, S. (2016). Application of shock mats in rail track foundation subjected to dynamic loads. Procedia Engineering, 143 1108-1119.