Engineers Australia

Numerical analysis of geosynthetics and engineering fill in performance of reconditioned ballasted track

Hon Chek Yap, Hadi Khabbaz and Jatinder Singh

Abstract

Over the past few decades, geosynthetics have been used extensively during track reconditioning to improve soil stability as they offer many advantages including cost effectiveness, ease of installation and minimal earthworks. Among the wide range of products in the market, geogrid remains the most commonly used geosynthetics for soil reinforcement. The aims of this paper are to investigate the effect of varying subgrade properties on track performance and to examine the effectiveness of geogrids and engineering fill for track reconditioning purposes. In the current study, numerical analyses were conducted using engineering software OptumG2, a finite element program for geotechnical stability and deformation analysis. The results of the parametric study indicated that geogrid inclusion within track substructure has considerable effect on settlement reduction and, in particular, increases the bearing capacity of railway track. The results also suggested that increase in axial stiffness of geogrids has minimal impact on track deformation. The most effective and practical location for geogrid reinforcement was achieved at interface between ballast and capping layers irrespective of the subgrade strength and stiffness. Sensitivity analyses showed that both total settlement and the bearing capacity of the railway track were most affected by the changes in the friction angle of subgrade, compared with cohesion and elastic modulus of subgrade, with or without geogrid reinforcement. The findings concluded that proper design of geogrid reinforcement can eliminate the need for or significantly reduce the thickness of engineering fill for ground improvement purposes.