Railroad ballast consists of open graded crushed stone used as a bed for railroad track to provide stability. It plays a significant role in providing support for the track base and distributing the load to the weaker subgrade below. Ballast also helps with drainage, which is an important factor for any type of transportation structure, including railroads. This issue has become more acute as heavier car loads place more demand on track structure than before. Over time ballast degrades and loses its strength. Fouling of ballast with fines has been a major issue of railway engineering. Fouling could be caused by break down of ballast itself or intrusion of fines from below or from the environment.
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