Granular Matter

, 9:69 | Cite as

The importance of modelling ballast particle shape in the discrete element method

  • M. Lu
  • G. R. McDowell


The discrete element method has been used to model railway ballast. Particles have been modelled using both spheres and clumps of spheres. A simple procedure has been developed to generate clumps which resemble real ballast particles much more so than spheres. The influence of clump shape on the heterogeneous stresses within an aggregate has been investigated, and it has been found that more angular clumps lead to a greater degree of homogeneity. A box test consisting of one cycle of sleeper load after compaction has been performed on an aggregate of spheres and also on an alternative aggregate of clumps. The interlocking provided by the clumps provides a much more realistic load- deformation response than the spheres and the clumps will be the basis for future work on ballast degradation under cyclic loading.


Discrete element modelling Railway ballast Particle geometry 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics, School of Civil EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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