Maintaining absolute clearances in ballasted railway tracks using in-situ three-dimensional polyurethane geocomposites

Peter Keith Woodward, Justin Kennedy, Gabriela Medero, Meysam Banimahd

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Maintaining track clearances in ballasted railway tracks are a critical issue for the safety and operational performance of the railway environment. In general, railway standards aredefined with respect to the minimum gauge clearance allowed between the dynamic swept envelope of the train vehicles and the fixed structure for a given vehicle speed. Absolute clearance of a line is categorized based on the clearance level, for example, in the UK, it is defined in terms of normal, reduced, or special reduced clearance. In special reduced clearance, the level of track fixity is defined as high fixity, medium fixity, and low fixity. In high track fixity, a concrete-slab track solution must be adopted; in medium track fixity, some form of ballast stabilization and/or reinforcement can be used. The principal requirement is that using a standard methodology, the clearances should always be greater than zero; the clearance representing the margin for unknown events. In this article, an in situ three-dimensional (3D) polyurethane ballast reinforcement technique is used to provide a very robust level of track fixity. The performance of the reinforcement technique is shown through experimental tests using a 200 ton capacity cyclic compression machine. The experimental tests are used to show the performance of the technique for applications like railway tunnels and station platforms where clearances issues are paramount. The base and shoulder GeoComposite experimental tests are performed with the initial ballast poorly compacted thus representing a worse case on-site scenario. Based on the experimental results, a new track fixity category is proposed termed virtual high fixity. A case study showing the impact and site application of the 3D polyurethane reinforcement research to Grovehill Tunnel UK is presented and reference is also made to another reinforced clearance issue site at Hoxton Station UK.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)257-271
    JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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