Use of Geosynthetics in Mitigating the Effects of Mud Pumping: A Railway Perspective

  • Mandeep SinghEmail author
  • Buddhima Indraratna
  • Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 29)


In Australia, where the major network of railways traverses along the coastal regions, millions of dollars are spent on track maintenance annually to mitigate track differential settlement. One of the recurring problems faced with ballasted tracks on estuarine soils is mud pumping. Mud pumping is a complex phenomenon involving the migration of fine soft subgrade particles into the coarser ballast/sub-ballast layer. The problem has been widely reported and is of interest among the railway engineers over the last couple of decades. The migration of fines causes excessive settlements and track degradation leading to track instability, thereby incurring excessive maintenance costs. The primary objective of this paper was to assess the existing remediation measures for mud pumping reported. The current mitigation techniques range from the in situ mixing of additives to the use of geosynthetics to separate the layers in a track structure. On the other hand, the use of geosynthetics has proven to act as a separator between the track layers; their effectiveness is highly dependent on the type of subgrade soil. The comprehensive study reveals the probable causes of mud pumping and a better understanding of the phenomenon.


Track maintenance Mud pumping Geosynthetics Triggers 



This research was supported (partially) by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects funding scheme (project LP160101254).


  1. Alobaidi I, Hoare DJ (1994) Factors affecting the pumping of fines at the subgrade–subbase interface of highway pavements: a laboratory study. Geosynthetics Int 1(2):221–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alobaidi I, Hoare DJ (1996) The development of pore water pressure at the subgrade–subbase interface of a highway pavement and its effect on pumping of fines. Geotext Geomembr 14(2):111–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alobaidi I, Hoare DJ (1998) Qualitative Criteria for anti-pumping geocomposites. Geotext Geomembr 16:221–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alobaidi I, Hoare DJ (1999) Mechanisms of pumping at the subgrade–subbase interface of highway pavements. Geosynthetics Int 6(4):241–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aw ES (2007) Low cost monitoring system to diagnose problematic rail bed: case study at a mud pumping site. Doctor of Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USAGoogle Scholar
  6. Ayres DJ (1986) Geotextiles or Geomembranes in track? British Railways’ experience. Geotext Geomembr 3:129–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bray JD, Sancio RB (2006) Assessment of the liquefaction susceptibility of fine-grained soils. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 132(9):1165–1177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chawla S, Shahu JT (2016) Reinforcement and mud-pumping benefits of geosynthetics in railway tracks: model tests. Geotext Geomembr 44:366–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duong TV, Cui Y-J, Tang AM, Dupla J-C, Canou J, Calon N, De Laure E (2014) Physical model for studying the migration of fine particles in the railway substructure. Geotech Test J 37(5):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hayashi S, Shahu JT (2000) Mud pumping problem in tunnels on erosive soil deposits. Géotechnique 50(4):393–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hudson A, Watson G, Le Pen L, Powrie W (2016) Remediation of mud pumping on a ballasted railway track. Paper presented at the 3rd international conference on transportation geotechnicsGoogle Scholar
  12. Hussaini SKK, Indraratna B, Vinod JS (2012) Performance of geosynthetically-reinforced rail ballast in direct shear conditions. Paper presented at the 11th Australia–New Zealand conference on geomechanics: ground engineering in a changing world, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  13. Indraratna B, Attya A, Rujikiatkamjorn C (2009) Experimental investigation on effectiveness of a vertical drain under cyclic loads. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 135(6):835–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Indraratna B, Rujikiatkamjorn C, Ewers B, Adams M (2010) Class A prediction of the behaviour of soft estuarine soil foundation stabilized by short vertical drains beneath a rail track. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 136(5):686–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kunii D, Levenspiel O (2013) Fluidization engineering. ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  16. Ni J, Indraratna B, Geng X-Y, Carter JP, Rujikiatkamjorn C (2013) Radial consolidation of soft soil under cyclic loads. Comput Geotech 50:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Trinh VN, Tang AM, Cui Y-J, Dupla J-C, Canou J, Calon N, Schoen O (2012) Mechanical characterisation of the fouled ballast in ancient railway track substructure by large-scale triaxial tests. Soil Found Jpn Geotech Soc 52(3):511–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Usman K, Burrow M, Ghataora G (2015) Railway track subgrade failure mechanisms using a fault chart approach. Procedia Eng 125:547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Voottipruex P, Roongthanee J (2003) Prevention of mud pumping in railway embankment. A case study from Baeng Pra-Pitsanuloke, Thailand. J KMITB 13(1):20–25Google Scholar
  20. Yoder EJ (1957) Pumping of highway and airfield pavements : technical paper. Retrieved from Purdue University, Lafayette, IndianaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mandeep Singh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Buddhima Indraratna
    • 1
  • Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering, School of Civil Mining and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Personalised recommendations