Development of a new methodology for track ballast profiling.


2013 → 2013

Background Information / Main Objective

In rail renovations using recycled material, it is common to mount the rail directly on the platform, without an initial layer of ballast.

Returning the rail to its original height requires either the unloading of a large amount of ballast, which reduces the number of unloading operations required but clogs the rail and makes it difficult to make contact with it with the tamping machine, requiring the track to be swept with a profiling machine or execute several unloading, profiling and levelling operations with long lead times and the necessary use of costly heavy machinery.

The tool developed adapts the height of the ballast to the contact needs of the tamping machine with fewer ballast unloading, levelling, alignment and profiling operations on the rail, optimising lead times and machinery costs. On-site tests (La Sagrera – Mollet section on the Madrid-Barcelona-French border high-speed railway line, works on the Preventive Treatment Plan for Infrastructure, Roads and Corrective Interventions to Iberian Gauge Lines in the Conventional Network) demonstrate its wider applicability not only in maintenance but also in new construction work.


The device includes a wedge element (1) for moving ballast, symmetrical along its longitudinal axis and a frame (2) consisting of a transverse profile (10) between the two transverse ends of the pushing element, a central longitudinal profile (11) extending between the transverse profile and the centre of the pushing element and U-shaped profiles (7) that form the housing of the rail head (5) and which extend between the pushing element and the transverse profile.

The tool is attached to the shovel of a mixed backhoe loader (adapted with bogies for travelling on rails) by means of the transverse profile of the frame (welded) and an extendable central “spindle” (3) which allows the fixture to be adjusted in order to adapt its shape to the track superstructure, adjusting the height and tilt of the pushing element (1) and the height of the rail housings above the rail.

The tool moves the ballast from the centre of the track to both sides of the trackbed, evening the upper level of the cross section of the layer. The two inlets at the bottom separated by 1,668 mm (Iberian gauge) allow the rail head to be accommodated. The depth of the inlets marks the distance between the ballast surface and the top of the rail.


The innovative nature of this Project has been certified by an External Body by means of the accreditation of certification as an R&D Project according to UNE 166.001.