Recycled materials in railroad substructure: an energy perspective

Publication Name

Railway Engineering Science


Given that the current ballasted tracks in Australia may not be able to support faster and significantly heavier freight trains as planned for the future, the imminent need for innovative and sustainable ballasted tracks for transport infrastructure is crucial. Over the past two decades, a number of studies have been conducted by the researchers of Transport Research Centre (TRC) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to investigate the ability of recycled rubber mats, as well as waste tyre cells and granulated rubber to improve the stability of track substructure including ballast and subballast layers. This paper reviews four applications of these novel methods, including using recycled rubber products such as CWRC mixtures (i.e., mixtures of coal wash (CW) and rubber crumbs (RC)) and SEAL mixtures (i.e., mixtures of steel furnace slag, CW and RC) to replace subballast/capping materials, tyre cells reinforcements for subballast/capping layer and under ballast mats; and investigates the energy dissipation capacity for each application based on small-scale cyclic triaxial tests and large-scale track model tests. It has been found that the inclusion of these rubber products increases the energy dissipation effect of the track, hence reducing the ballast degradation efficiently and increasing the track stability. Moreover, a rheological model is also proposed to investigate the effect of different rubber inclusions on their efficiency to reduce the transient motion of rail track under dynamic loading. The outcomes elucidated in this paper will lead to a better understanding of the performance of ballast tracks upgraded with resilient rubber products, while promoting environmentally sustainable and more affordable ballasted tracks for greater passenger comfort and increased safety.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)