Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 727–752 | Cite as

Impact of Geometric and Petrographic Characteristics on the Variability of LA Test Values for Railway Ballast

  • Vera Hofer
  • Holger Bach
  • Christine Latal
  • Anna-Christina Neubauer


The Los Angeles test is one of the few mechanical test methods that provides information on the quality of railway ballast. However, the Los Angeles value is subject to large variability. Since important economic decisions depend on this value, the reasons for its variability are investigated. An extensive series of tests using four types of rock as well as an in-depth analysis of particle geometry and petrography are carried out. The impact of particle characteristics on the test results is investigated. The deviation of the petrographic composition within a given sample turns out to have a considerable impact on the Los Angeles test results, whereas the influence of the respective deviation of particle geometry is relatively small. The latter effect only comes into play in connection with petrographically homogeneous rock types. The distribution of the geometric features is similar in almost all of the rock types investigated. Due to the large deviation in particle shape and angularity, the sample mass of 10 kg (as provided in the standards EN 1097-2 and EN 13450) is not found to be representative. The necessary number of test repetitions in order to exclude the effect of deviation of particle geometry is estimated. The one result parameter according to the standard, the Los Angeles value, does not allow for discriminating between the amount of abrasion and the fragmentation occurring during the test. An additional result parameter for the estimation of the fragmentation rate is therefore proposed.


Attrition Abrasion Fragmentation Particle shape Railway ballast LA test 



The authors thank the ÖBB Infrastruktur AG for providing the samples, and the ÖBB Stab Forschung und Entwicklung for financing the Petroscope 4D® measurement device.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Hofer
    • 1
  • Holger Bach
    • 2
  • Christine Latal
    • 3
  • Anna-Christina Neubauer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Statistics and Operations ResearchKarl-Franzens UniversityGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Railway Engineering and Transport EconomyGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institute of Applied GeosciencesGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria

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