Trackbed construction
Methodologies to Solve Mud Pumping

For railways mud pumping has been a potential problem for as long as ballast has been used in trackbed construction. Where water is able to mix with fines eroded from the subgrade a mobile slurry forms and is pumped into the ballast by the cyclic loading of passing traffic. Over the year various techniques have been tried as treatments to prevent mud pumping with varying degrees of success.  

In the second half of the 20th Century the UK rail industry began to move from manual to mechanical maintenance technique. The new trackbed maintenance techniques required deep layers of clean ballast to be successful. This often necessitated the removal of the well graded granular layers which provided good separation between ballast and subgrade, leading to rapid subgrade erosion and consequent development of wet spots. 

Sand blanketing was highly successful at curing subgrade erosion, but necessitated large volumes of excavation and material export/import which was both expensive and slow.  

Industry Experience

During the latter part of the 20th century as geosynthetics became widely available they were mooted as a potential to mud pumping. Non-woven geotextiles were trialed, but it soon became clear that the pore sizes were not small enough to prevent the migration of fines where subgrade pumping occurred.

Further research by British Rail in the 1980’s resulted in the use of geotextiles in conjunction with sand blankets, which allowed a reduction in the thickness of sand while remaining an effective mud-pumping treatment.

There has been much research into using geogrid and geocell stabilization products as a way to treat mud pumping by increasing the stiffness of the trackbed. Such mechanical stabilization increases the bearing capacity of trackbed, particularly over soft or variable subgrade conditions, and can reduce trackbed variability. However it does not prevent the creation of the slurry and it’s subsequent pumping up into the ballast.

TrackTex represents the culmination of research and experience across the industry into ways to solve mud-pumping.

Preventing Mud Pumping, Ensuring Track Stability

Comprehensive Support Delivers Trackbed Performance

At GEOfabrics, we provide technical support to help you get the most out of TrackTex and address the cause of mud pumping. This ensures the stability and performance of your tracks. Our team of experts utilizes advanced techniques and technologies to deliver effective solutions tailored to your specific needs

Professional Development Hours

GEOfabrics continuing education sessions provide technical training on specifying and using TrackTex. These sessions contribute to PDH hours.

Trackbed Stabilization

Geosynthetics are widely used as a way to improve ballast performance under railways. GEOFabrics RK4 is a geocomposite comprising a stabilizing geogrid bonded to our RK1 needlepunched non-woven sep...

Symptoms of Mud Pumping

The symptoms of Mud Pumping are similar to those of life expired ballast, i.e. wet spots appearing at the surface of the ballast accompanied by rapid deteriorating of track geometry. However, from ...
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