Characterization of clean and fouled rail track ballast subsurface using seismic surface survey method: Model and field studies



Publication Details

Anbazhagan, p., Buddhima, I. and Amarajeevi, G. (2011). Characterization of clean and fouled rail track ballast subsurface using seismic surface survey method: Model and field studies. Journal of Testing and Evaluation, 39 (5), 1-11.


The efficiency of track foundation material gradually decreases due to insufficient lateral confinement, ballast fouling, and loss of shear strength of the subsurface soil under cyclic loading. This paper presents characterization of rail track subsurface to identify ballast fouling and subsurface layers shear wave velocity using seismic survey. Seismic surface wave method of multi-channel analysis of surface wave (MASW) has been carried out in the model track and field track for finding out shear wave velocity of the clean and fouled ballast and track subsurface. The shear wave velocity (SWV) of fouled ballast increases with increase in fouling percentage, and reaches a maximum value and then decreases. This character is similar to typical compaction curve of soil, which is used to define optimum and critical fouling percentage (OFP and CFP). Critical fouling percentage of 15 % is noticed for Coal fouled ballast and 25 % is noticed for clayey sand fouled ballast. Coal fouled ballast reaches the OFP and CFP before clayey sand fouled ballast. Fouling of ballast reduces voids in ballast and there by decreases the drainage. Combined plot of permeability and SWV with percentage of fouling shows that after critical fouling point drainage condition of fouled ballast goes below acceptable limit. Shear wave velocities are measured in the selected location in the Wollongong field track by carrying out similar seismic survey. In-situ samples were collected and degrees of fouling were measured. Field SWV values are more than that of the model track SWV values for the same degree of fouling, which might be due to sleeper’s confinement. This article also highlights the ballast gradation widely followed in different countries and presents the comparison of Indian ballast gradation with international gradation standards. Indian ballast contains a coarser particle size when compared to other countries. The upper limit of Indian gradation curve matches with lower limit of ballast gradation curves of America and Australia. The ballast gradation followed by Indian railways is poorly graded and more favorable for the drainage conditions. Indian ballast engineering needs extensive research to improve presents track conditions.

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