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An experimental investigation on the durability of railway ballast material by magnesium sulfate soundness

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In this study, the durability of railway ballast material is investigated by magnesium sulfate soundness tests. Two types of ballast aggregates, which are produced from basaltic rocks and currently used as railway ballast in such high speed railway routes in Turkey, are investigated regarding their resistance against freezing–thawing (FT) and traffic loads. Firstly, the mineralogical and physico-mechanical properties of rocks are determined. Then the degradation of investigated ballast aggregates is determined by magnesium sulfate soundness and Los Angeles abrasion (LAA) tests. The natural FT effects are simulated by magnesium sulfate soundness tests up to 40 cycles, whereas the traffic loads are represented by LAA tests up to 3000 revolutions. The ballast fouling that leads to such problems are also investigated within the scope in the present study. The degree of ballast fouling is quantified as fouling index (FI) which is determined using the crushed particles generated after LAA tests. It is concluded from laboratory studies that rock properties considered are considerably influenced by simulated FT cycles. It is also achieved from the laboratory studies that magnesium sulfate soundness and Los Angeles abrasion tests are good indicators to clarify the fragmentation mechanism of the ballast aggregate in laboratory scale. In conclusion several empirical formulas are developed to predict LAA and FI for each rock type. The proposed empirical formulas could be utilized as a pre-design tool for new railway routes in design stage provided that the investigated ballast aggregates are considered.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the constructive comments and suggestions of the reviewers and the financial support (Project No: 2016-98150330-01) provided by Bülent Ecevit University.

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Correspondence to Ekin Köken.

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Köken, E., Özarslan, A. & Bacak, G. An experimental investigation on the durability of railway ballast material by magnesium sulfate soundness. Granular Matter 20, 29 (2018).

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