Stress distribution from railway track over geogrid reinforced ballast underlain by clay

  • Mohammed Y. FattahEmail author
  • Mahmood R. Mahmood
  • Mohammed F. Aswad


Railway ballast forms a major component of a conventional rail track and is used to distribute the load to the subgrade, providing a smooth running surface for trains. It plays a significant role in providing support for the rail track base and distributing the load to the weaker layer underneath. Ballast also helps with drainage, which is an important factor for any type of transportation structure, including railroads. Over time, ballast progressively deforms and degrades under dynamic loading and loses its strength. In this study, extensive laboratory tests were conducted to investigate the effect of load amplitude, geogrid position, and number of geogrid layers, thickness of ballast layer and clay stiffness on the behavior of the reinforced ballast layer and induced strains in a geogrid. A half full-scale railway was constructed for carrying out the tests, which consisted of two rails 800 mm in length with three wooden sleepers (900 mm × 10 mm × 10 mm). Three ballast thicknesses of 200, 300 and 400 mm were used in the tests. The ballast was overlying 500 mm thickness clay in two states, soft and stiff. The tests were carried out with and without geogrid reinforcement; the tests were performed in a well-tied steel box of 1.5 m length ×1 m width ×1 m height. Laboratory tests were conducted to investigate the response of the ballast and the clay layers where the ballast was reinforced by a geogrid. Settlement in ballast and clay, soil pressure and pore water pressure induced in the clay were measured in reinforced and unreinforced ballast cases. It was concluded that the amount of settlement increased as the simulated train load amplitude increased, and there was a sharp increase in settlement up to cycle 500. After that, there was a gradual increase that leveled out between, 2500 to 4500 cycles depending on the frequency used. There was a slight increase in the induced settlement when the load amplitude increased from 0.5 to 1 ton but it was higher when the load amplitude increased to 2 tons. The increased amount in settlement depended on the existence of the geogrid and other parameters studied. The transmitted average vertical stress for ballast thicknesses of 30 cm and 40 cm increased as the load amplitude increased, regardless of the ballast reinforcement for both soft and stiff clay. The position of the geogrid had no significant effect on the transmitted stresses. The value of the soil pressure and pore water pressure on ballast thicknesses of 20 cm was higher than for 30 cm and 40 cm thicknesses. This meant that the ballast attenuated the induced waves. The soil pressure and pore water pressure for reinforced and unreinforced ballast was higher in stiff clay than in soft clay.


ballast geogrid reinforcement clay stress pore water pressure dynamic load 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Engineering Mechanics, China Earthquake Administration and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammed Y. Fattah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mahmood R. Mahmood
    • 1
  • Mohammed F. Aswad
    • 1
  1. 1.Civil Engineering DepartmentUniversity of TechnologyBaghdadIraq

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