Experimental and numerical study of railway ballast behavior under cyclic loading



Publication Details

Indraratna, B, Thakur, PK and Vinod, JS, Experimental and numerical study of railway ballast behavior under cyclic loading, International Journal of Geomechanics, 10(4), 2010, 136-144.


This paper presents the results of the influence of frequency on the permanent deformation and degradation behavior of ballast during cyclic loading. The behavior of ballast under numerous cycles was investigated through a series of large-scale cyclic triaxial tests. The tests were conducted at frequencies ranging from 10–40 Hz, which is equivalent to a train traveling from 73 km/h to 291 km/h over standard gauge tracks in Australia. The results showed that permanent deformation and degradation of ballast increased with the frequency of loading and number of cycles. Much of breakage occurs during the initial cycle; however, there exists a frequency zone of 20 Hz ≤ f ≤ 30 Hz where cyclic densification takes place without much additional breakage. An empirical relationship among axial strain, frequency and number of cycles has been proposed based on the experimental data. In addition, discrete-element method (DEM) simulations were carried out using PFC2D on an assembly of irregular shaped particles. A novel approach was used to model a two-dimensional (2D) projection of real ballast particles. Clusters of bonded circular particles were used to model a 2D projection of angular ballast particles. Degradation of the bonds within a cluster was considered to represent particle breakage. The results of DEM simulations captured the ballast behavior under cyclic loading in accordance with the experimental observations. Moreover, the evolution of micromechanical parameters such as a distribution of the contact force and bond force developed during cyclic loading was presented to explain the mechanism of particle breakage. It has been revealed that particle breakage is mainly due to the tensile stress developed during cyclic loading and is located mainly in the direction of the movement of ballast particles

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