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Technology for Measuring and Analyzing Track Sub-Structure

Description:

Ballast, sub-ballast, and sub-grade play an important role in supporting the track structure. Without proper maintenance, degradation of these materials can at a minimum have a significant effect on drainage, track geometry, and ride quality. Advanced technology inspection tools allow for thorough inspection of below-grade materials without physically impacting the track structure or imposing significant impacts on train operations. The information collected from this type of system is useful for planning where to work, streamlining designs, assessing degradation rates, and potentially predicting failures.

Objective:

The objective of this research is to improve upon inspection and monitoring technology and propose methods of mitigating issues that are caused by poor ballast, sub-ballast, and sub-grade condition. The research would also investigate the advancement of data analysis tools.

Benefits:

Results from this research would include: improved safety, improved track structure, more efficient maintenance planning, better construction methods, and cost savings to owners.

Related Research:

“Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Technology Evaluation and Implementation,” Federal Railroad Administration Office of Research, Development and Technology, DOT/FRA/ORD-20/18.

“Relationship Between Track Geometry Defects and Measured Track Subsurface Condition,” Federal Railroad Administration Office of Research, Development and Technology, DOT/FRA/ORD-20/07

“Laboratory Study of the Failure Characteristics of Fouled Ballast: Phase II,” Federal Railroad Administration Office of Research, Development and Technology, DOT/FRA/ORD-20/04

“Discrete Element Modeling of Railway Ballast Toward Improved Tamping Practices”, University Transportation Center on Improving Rail Transportation Infrastructure Sustainability and Durability

Application of Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer (FLIR) Technology for Detecting Early Stages of Fouled Ballast”, University Transportation Center on Improving Rail Transportation Infrastructure Sustainability and Durability

"Development of Ballast Real Time Information System (BRIS) Based on SmartRock”, Transportation Research Board

Tasks:

Development of new inspection technologies to characterize the condition of ballast, sub-ballast and sub-grade with particular emphasis on technologies that can be deployed on unmanned platforms.

Development and demonstration of* i*nnovative approaches of using existing inspection technology products to determine new information regarding ballast, sub-ballast and sub-grade.

Development and demonstration of new data analysis methods to assess the conditions of ballast, sub-ballast and sub-grade including predictive data analysis techniques.

Implementation:

Research could be performed by universities, railroads, private industry.

Relevance:

Ballast, sub-ballast, and sub-grade are a persistent cause of a variety of unfavorable track conditions. Railroads are constantly battling with ballast and sub-grade conditions, often without knowing the root cause of the issues and this research could help all railroads. Because non-destructive testing is the most ideal way of viewing what lies beneath the ties, it is necessary to continuously improve upon data collection and analysis tools.

Sponsoring Committee:AR050, Railroad Infrastructure Design and Maintenance
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Amanda Kessler, Amtrak; Eric Sherrock, ENSCO
Date Posted:01/08/2021
Date Modified:05/27/2021
Index Terms:Railroad tracks, Ballast (Railroads), Technological innovations, Subgrade (Pavements), Maintenance of way, Inspection,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Subjects    
Railroads
Maintenance and Preservation
Materials

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