Static and cyclic characterization of fouled railroad sub-ballast layer behaviour

Majid Touqan, Aly Ahmed, Hesham El Naggar, Timothy Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates the static and cyclic characteristics of a fouled sub-ballast material using static and cyclic triaxial tests. Static triaxial tests were conducted first to determine the peak strength, which was used as the applied stress in the cyclic tests. Moreover, the results of the displacement-controlled static triaxial test were used to assess the shear stiffness and strength during the cyclic stress-controlled loading cycles. Isotropically consolidated drained (CD) compression cyclic triaxial tests were conducted to simulate the long-term response of fouled railway substructure under progressive repetitive loading and unloading cycles. The accumulated plastic strains of the fouled railroad sub-ballast were determined under cyclic loading and unloading conditions. The obtained results indicated that the soil plasticity and effective confining pressure, and relative density are not the only important factors in shaping the damping curves but also the loading rate, and particle size. Both parameters play a major role in determining the behaviour of fine contaminated sub-ballast. The railway operational speed limits were deduced from the stress-strain behaviour of the fouled sub-ballast interlayer zone. It is recommended that the maximum speed of trains in fouled railroad segments be limited to a maximum of 32 km/h. The developed guidelines are aimed to prolong the service lifespan of the fouled track segments, while maintaining safety standards to avoid train derailments, track deterioration, and high maintenance costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106293
JournalSoil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Compaction
  • Cyclic triaxial tests
  • Fouled sub-ballast
  • Railroad substructure
  • Shear wave velocity
  • Static triaxial tests
  • Train loading conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science


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