Granular Matter

, 20:51 | Cite as

Effect of sand and clay fouling on the shear strength of railway ballast for different ballast gradations

  • Akbar Danesh
  • Massoud PalassiEmail author
  • Ali Asghar Mirghasemi
Original Paper


Ballast contamination by fine materials such as sand and clay in railway track at arid regions is an important issue that causes track instability problems and settlement due to reduction of shear strength of ballast. In this paper, the results of direct shear box test conducted on clean ballast, sand-fouled ballast and clay-fouled ballast for different ballast gradations are reported and discussed. For this purpose, three different fouling amounts according to fouling index are added to clean ballast. Test results show that by increasing the fouling percentage, the ballast shear strength always decreases both for sand and clay fouled ballast. However, the amount of shear strength reduction is low at high normal stresses. Clay contamination has more adverse effect on the shear strength of ballast compared with sand contamination. Also, the results of tests for evaluation of gradation effect on shear strength of fouled ballast which are conducted on various gradations according to American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, show that the maximum particle size as well as uniformity coefficient affect the shear strength of ballast. Also, an empirical equation is presented to observe the effect of ballast gradation on reduction of shear strength with regard to amount of fouling material and normal stress.


Ballast shear strength Fouling materials Ballast gradation Direct shear box test 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering, College of EngineeringUniversity of TehranTehranIran

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