stones on railway tracks, Why are there stones on railway tracks? (Explained)

Why are there stones on railway tracks? (Explained)

Why are there stones on railway tracks?

I do know that you are extremely curious to know about the stones on railway tracks. In this post you will find out why they are used and what are they called.
In India most of us seek Railway as there preferable mode of transport. The train journey is affordable and soothing. However, most of us must have definitely wondered why there are stones on railway tracks (Atleast I did😅).
These crushed stones are called track ballast and they help keep the train tracks to be in place. (Knowledge💯)

stones on railway tracks, Why are there stones on railway tracks? (Explained)
Rail Track

What is ‘The track ballast’ ?

Track ballast is the collective term for the crushed stones on railway tracks. They form the trackbed and are packed around railway tracks. They form the ground for the railway sleepers (They are the rectangular support piece kept perpendicular to the tracks) which are used to keep the railway tracks upright and properly spaced.
Sleepers used to be made of wood earlier but now they are mainly created with pre-stressed concrete.

stones on railway tracks, Why are there stones on railway tracks? (Explained)

Why is only a certain type of stone used on railway tracks?

Track ballast cannot be made with any kind of stone. If smooth, round pebbles like the ones on river beds or used for decoration were used on railway tracks, they might roll over or slide against one another when a train passes on the railway lines.
(Which may cause accidents😨).

Thus, the wrong type of stone wouldn’t fulfil the main function of track ballast to provide support to the railway tracks and may hamper track or even trains. Only stones which wouldn’t move around much would suit the job (Preferably like a tree😅).
That is why only sharp edge stones are used on railway tracks for track ballast.

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Other functions of track ballast :

Apart from holding the railway lines in place and providing support for heavy trains to pass on, there are the other functions of track ballast:

1. The stones don’t allow vegetation to grow on railway tracks which could weaken the ground on which the railway lines run.(That’s the reason why you don’t see vegetation on the tracks☺).

2. Track ballast also keeps water from reaching the track on a regular basis and softening the ground. It doesn’t completely seal off water (unfortunately😖) from the railway tracks but it facilitates proper drainage around the tracks to ensure that the water doesn’t stay on it (This is the reason why you don’t see stagnant water on the tracks).

Conclusion :

  Now that you know the VERY Importance of track ballast and why there are stones on railway tracks (I hope you understood it😄), make sure you don’t keep picking stones from the tracks to play with them (careless you😯) or throw them outside!

Train fact and FAQs:

Technique used to minimise railway vibrations:

The immense vibration of a passing train is a threat to nearby buildings  apart from the loud noise which is a problem too.

Railways use a clamping technique to minimise vibrations consisting of EPDM or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer rubber which is highly resistance to heat, water and other mechanical strains. This helps noise and vibration to be reduced to a great extent.

Q. Who makes rails for Indian Railways?

A lot of rails come from SAIL (Steel Authority of India), a public sector company which makes rails at its Bhilai Steel Plant (now the second largest rail supplier in the world). 
The private sector company Jindal Power and Steel has recently set up a long rail manufacturing unit to make 260m rails.
In addition, rails have often been imported by Indian Railways, e.g., from British Steel, Penang (China), and Stela Group (Poland). 

Q. What kinds of ballast does Indian Railways use?

For all high-traffic lines, Indian Railways uses machine crushed hard stone ballast, usually from locally quarried granite stone, or crushed basalt. In the past broken brick, slag from metal processing, and waste construction material were also used.

Q. Are there ballastless tracks in India?

A few sections of Indian Railways have ballastless concrete bed track. Much of the Calcutta Metro, a few sections of Konkan Railway, the second phase of the Chennai MRTS project.

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