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Bitumen stabilized ballast: A potential solution for railway track-bed


Railway ballast degradation under dynamic loads progressively leads to loss of mechanical performance and geometry of the track, so that maintenance interventions are frequently needed. In order to system- atically avoid this issue, recently solutions have been proposed to reinforce track-bed by using polyur- ethane and/or resins as well as asphalt layers among others. Nonetheless, their main limitations are related to the high initial cost and low productivity. To cope with these limitations, in this study, bitumen stabilized ballast (BSB) is proposed as a new solu- tion for ballast stabilization. This method aims at improving durability and reducing settlement by mod- ifying both stiffness and the ability of energy dissipation of the layer. The paper introduces the potential of this technology as material to be used in railway track-beds by presenting the results of a laboratory- based investigation using the Precision Unbound Material Analyser (PUMA). Different variables such as ballast grading, bitumen emulsion dosage, compaction method and stress levels are considered. Results showed a significant decrease in permanent deformation and deformation rate associated with modified stiffness and energy dissipation properties of BSB, which suggest the potential for improving long-term performance and sustainability of ballasted track.