Application of geoinclusions for sustainable rail infrastructure under increased axle loads and higher speeds


Given the ongoing demand for faster trains for carrying heavier loads, conventional ballasted railroads require considerable upgrading in order to cope with the increasing traffic-induced stresses. During train operations, ballast deteriorates due to progressive breakage and fouling caused by the infiltration of fine particles from the surface or mud-pumping from the underneath layers (e.g. sub-ballast, sub-grade), which decreases the load bearing capacity, impedes drainage and increases the deformation of ballasted tracks. Suitable ground improvement techniques involving geosynthetics and resilient rubber sheets are commonly employed to enhance the stability and longevity of rail tracks. This keynote paper focuses mainly on research projects undertaken at the University of Wollongong to improve track performance by emphasising the main research outcomes and their practical implications. Results from laboratory tests, computational modelling and field trials have shown that track behaviour can be significantly improved by the use of geosynthetics, energy-absorbing rubber mats, rubber crumbs and infilled-recycled tyres. Full-scale monitoring of instrumented track sections supported by rail industry (ARTC) has been performed, and the obtained field data for in situ stresses and deformations could verify the track performance, apart from validating the numerical simulations. The research outcomes provide promising approaches that can be incorporated into current track design practices to cater for high-speed freight trains carrying heavier loads.

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Data source: [28] and [55]; with permission from ASCE

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Data source: [27]

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Data source: [44]

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Data source: [23]; with permission from ASCE)

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Data source: [23]; with permission from ASCE

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The authors wish to acknowledge the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Industry partners for providing support through the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Advanced Technologies in Rail Track Infrastructure (ITTC-Rail). The efforts of past doctoral students, Dr. Syed K. Hussaini, Dr. Nayoma Tennakoon, Dr. Mehdi Biabani and Dr. Joanne Lackenby among others, and postdoctoral research fellows, Dr. Sanjay Nimbalkar and Dr. Qideng Sun that have contributed to the contents of this keynote paper are also gratefully appreciated, as well as the support of colleagues A/Prof. Jayan Vinod, A/Prof. Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn and Dr. Ana Heitor over the past years. The authors sincerely acknowledge Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (funded jointly by participating rail organisations and the Australian Federal Government’s Business Cooperative Research Centres Program) through two Projects, R2.5.1 and R2.5.2. The authors also thank the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI), Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), Global Synthetics Pty Ltd, Naue GmbH & Co. KG, Foundation Specialists Group, Sydney Trains (formerly RailCorp), Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), Bridgestone Corporation, among others. The cooperation of David Christie (formerly Senior Geotechnical Consultant, RailCorp), Tim Neville (ARTC) and Michael Martin (Aurizon/QLD Rail) during these industry linkages is gratefully appreciated. Salient contents from these previous studies are reproduced herein with kind permission from the original sources, including ASCE-JGGE, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Computers and Geotechnics, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, among others. The authors are also grateful to UOW technical staff, namely Alan Grant, Cameron Neilson, Duncan Best and Ritchie McLean, for their assistance during laboratory and field studies.

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Correspondence to Buddhima Indraratna.

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Indraratna, B., Ferreira, F.B., Qi, Y. et al. Application of geoinclusions for sustainable rail infrastructure under increased axle loads and higher speeds. Innov. Infrastruct. Solut. 3, 69 (2018).

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  • Ballast
  • Geogrid
  • Rubber crumb
  • Scrap tyre
  • Rail infrastructure
  • Discrete element modelling