In today’s fast-paced modern world travelling by train is a quick and environmentally friendly way to get around. You can sit back and relax or get on with some work while taking in views of the countryside. Something you will undoubtedly see when travelling by train is the small stones lying all along the tracks. They are something that as a regular train user you have probably never even given a second thought to. So, we thought we’d have a look at what they are for.
What is Railway Track Ballast
So to start with let’s give those collective stones their proper title which is Railway Track Ballast. Track ballast forms the bed of the track on which the rail sleepers are placed. Track ballast is packed together not only in between the sleepers but also in the areas below and to the side of the railway tracks. This ballast provides support for the sleepers that in turn ensure the rails are held upright and correctly spaced.
Why Use These Particular Stones
So, why do construction crews working on railway tracks use these particular types of stones? I mean let’s face it to the man in the street, one stone looks the same as another. Obviously, this is not the case as not all types of stone are suitable for use as track ballast. For example, if you use smooth round pebbles there is a chance they will roll or slide over each other as the train passes over the tracks. That means they will be failing in their task, which is to provide the tracks with stability. To ensure the tracks provide a solid base for the train it is vital to use a specific type of stone that will not move around. The way to guarantee that the stones stay in place is to use ones that are sharp and edged. That way they will naturally bind together giving the track the solidarity it needs.
Functions of Track Ballast
Track ballast serves several different purposes, one of which is to ensure the track stays in place when even the heaviest of trains roll over them. Another important function of track ballast is playing a role in keeping plant growth around the track under control. Failure to do this is likely to result in the track becoming weaker and negatively impact its stability. Track ballast will also help divert water away from the tracks, while track ballast won’t completely protect the tracks against water which let’s face it would be nigh on impossible. But what it does do is help facilitate drainage around and beneath the tracks, so water doesn’t build up compromising the stability of the ground.
It is a New Technique to Reduce Vibrations
Continual use of a railway line can pose a threat to any buildings in the vicinity, as high speed locomotives cause considerable vibrations. The noise made by a train travelling at high speed can also be a nuisance to people living and working in nearby areas.
To minimise vibrations a relatively simple clamping technique is used involving a dynamic vibration absorber. This means there is a significant reduction in vibrations and noise can be kept to a bare minimum.
While we appreciate you won’t be an expert in railway track maintenance after reading this, hopefully, the information we have given you will give you at least a basic understanding of the important role track ballast plays in the rail industry.