Neoloy Geocell Reinforcement Improves Rail Track Geometry

Neoloy Geocells shown to be the best solution for rail track stabilization, improving track quality and reducing maintenance

The Challenge – Reducing Railway Maintenance

The 457-mile mainline Northeast Corridor, from Washington DC to Boston is one of the highest volume rail corridors in the world, carrying 2,200 commuter and freight trains daily. A problematic section of track in the state of Maryland passes through soft clay subgrade with poor drainage that fouls the ballast. High speed railways are very sensitive for track geometry degradation. This necessitates frequent, expensive tamping every 3-4 months and results in speed limitations and a degradation of service.

Innovative Technology for High Speed Railways

As part of Federal Railway Administration (FRA) program to promote innovative technologies that will advance high speed railways, Amtrak (US National Railroad Corporation), Harsco Rail Consulting Group and Columbia University – have evaluated several geosynthetics solutions. Click Here to read Prof. Alan Zarembski testimonial.

Neoloy Geocells provide the best performance for Railway Track Reinforcement

After evaluating several soil stabilization solutions, including moisture barriers, geogrids and HDPE geocells –  Neoloy Geocells showed the best results for track reinforcement:

  1. Track Maintenance Cycles were reduced by a factor of 7.
  2. Track Quality Index (TQI) Score was improved by a factor of 2.
  3. Return of Investment (ROI) is expected to be within a year.

Neoloy Geocells – the Best Solution for Railway Track Reinforcement

Neoloy Geocells are made of a unique Novel Polymeric Alloy (NPA) providing the following properties:

  • High tensile strength – high ground reinforcement factor
  • Low permanent deformation (creep) under loading –  sustain long-term performance.
  • High Elastic Stiffness–  sustaining high stress without deformation.

These properties provide the best performance for railway track reinforcement –  track geometry is preserved for long-term, at the lower costs.

The Neoloy Geocell system is based on a hybrid structure of geocell on geogrid working platform. Neoloy Geocells Category D (Heavy Duty) were installed at the ballast/sub-ballast interface. The geogrid was installed on the subgrade layer as a working platform.

Fast Implementation, Quick Investment Return

Knowledge transfer for the Amtrak installation team went smoothly. The entire operation took place during a long weekend when the track was removed from service. Standard Amtrak quality ballast and sub-ballast were used. The impact of Neoloy was noticeable immediately – the trucks hauling infill caused severe rutting to the wet mud subgrade as they approached the installation area, but easily traversed the areas in which Neoloy Geocells were already installed with no rutting whatsoever.

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  • Track Quality Index (TQI) improved
  • Vertical pressure on substructure reduced
  • Proven solution for soft soil – fouled ballast
  • Speed and service on high traffic corridor restored to original levels
  • Improves operational and economic viability of high speed passenger rail systems