Influence of synthetic inclusions on the degradation and deformation of ballast under heavy-haul cyclic loading

Publication Name

International Journal of Rail Transportation


This study investigates the benefits of artificial inclusions placed underneath the ballast layer. A series of large-scale cyclic triaxial tests were carried out on ballast with and without these inclusions under 25-tonne and 35-tonne axle loads and frequencies of f = 15 Hz and 25 Hz, using a Process Simulation Prismoidal Triaxial Apparatus. The laboratory results show that a geogrid installed between the ballast and capping layer decreases both deformation and degradation of the aggregates, which can be attributed to enhanced internal confinement and restricted particle movement. Laboratory tests also showed that placing a rubber mat underneath the ballast layer significantly reduced ballast breakage. A numerical model using the discrete element method (DEM) was developed and validated against the experimental observations. The DEM model was utilized to explore the contact forces that developed across the granular assemblies, and to study the interaction between aggregates and the synthetic inclusions from a particle-level perspective.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



Link to publisher version (DOI)