Publication Details

Indraratna, B., Ngo, T. & Rujikiatkamjorn, C. (2020). Performance of Ballast Influenced by Deformation and Degradation: Laboratory Testing and Numerical Modeling. International Journal of Geomechanics, 20 (1), 04019138-1-04019138-14.


This paper presents a study on the deformation and degradation responses of railway ballast using large-scale laboratory testing and computational modeling approaches. A series of large-scale triaxial tests were carried out to investigate the ballast breakage responses under cyclic train loading subjected to varying frequencies, f=10-40  Hz. The role of recycled rubber energy-absorbing mats (REAMs) on reducing ballast breakage was also examined. Laboratory test results show that the ballast experiences significant degradation (breakage) and deformation, while the inclusion of REAMs can reduce the ballast breakage up to about 35%. Numerical modeling using the coupled discrete-continuum approach [coupled discrete-element method-finite-difference method (DEM-FDM)] is introduced to provide insightful understanding on the deformation and breaking of ballast under cyclic loading. Discrete ballast grains were simulated by bonding of many circular elements together at appropriate sizes and locations. Selected cylinders located at corners, surfaces, and sharp edges of the simulated particles were connected by parallel bonds; and when those bonds were broken, they were considered to represent ballast breakage. The subgrade and rubber mat were simulated as a continuum media using FDM. The predicted axial strain εa and volumetric strain εv obtained from the coupled DEM-FDM model are in good agreement with those measured in the laboratory. The model was then used to explore micromechanical aspects of ballast aggregates including the evolution of particle breakage, contact force distributions, and orientation of contacts during cyclic loading. These findings are imperative for a more insightful understanding of the breakage behavior of ballast from the perspective of microstructure characteristics of discrete particle assemblies. Introduction