Improving our rail network by understanding the process of “mud pumping” 

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna will be leading a research team at the University of Wollongong to determine underlying causes of a process known as ‘mud pumping’ which is highly destructive to railway lines. Fast heavy haul operations (such as loads used in mining and agriculture) impart repeated loads on the ground underneath the railway line, which can cause holes and other deformations of the ground, leading to serious damage of tracks and the immediate suspension of rail operations. The problem occurs particularly in areas where the ground is waterlogged, and causes millions of dollars damage to Australia’s 33,000km rail network every year. Thanks to the Australian Government, through an ARC Linkage Projects scheme grant worth $675,000, as well as significant additional cash and in-kind support from five partner organisations, an experimental program and field study will be undertaken to understand the mechanisms of mud pumping, and the role of vertically installed drains will be quantified for improved practical design.  The project aims to contribute to improved track longevity and reduced maintenance costs, with a corresponding boost in rail productivity. 

Image: Intersection Track Of Railway.
Image courtesy: tiverylucky at

Original Published Date: 
Monday, January 30, 2017