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Geomechanics and Engineering
  Volume 14, Number 6, April30 2018 , pages 563-570

Experimental investigation of effects of sand contamination on strain modulus of railway ballast
Ali R. Tolou Kian, Jabbar A. Zakeri and Javad Sadeghi

    Ballast layer has an important role in vertical stiffness and stability of railway track. In most of the Middle East countries and some of the Asian ones, significant parts of railway lines pass through desert areas where the track (particularly ballast layer) is contaminated with sands. Despite considerable number of derailments reported in the sand contaminated tracks, there is a lack of sufficient studies on the influences of sand contamination on the ballast vertical stiffness as the main indicator of track stability. Addressing this limitation, the effects of sand contamination on the mechanical behavior of ballast were experimentally investigated. For this purpose, laboratory tests (plate load test) on ballast samples with different levels of sand contamination were carried out. The results obtained were analyzed leading to derive mathematical expressions for the strain modulus (EV) as a function of the ballast level of contamination. The EV was used as an index for evaluation of the load-deformation characteristics and bearing capacity of track substructure. The critical limit of sand contamination, after which the EV of the ballast reduces drastically, was obtained. It was shown that the obtained research results improve the current track maintenance approach by providing key guides for the optimization of ballast maintenance planning (the timing of ballast cleaning or renewal).
Key Words
    railway ballast; sand; contamination; strain modulus; maintenance; laboratory test
Ali R. Tolou Kian, Jabbar A. Zakeri and Javad Sadeghi: School of Railway Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, Narmak, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

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