Railway ballast under repeated traffic loading deforms and deteriorates. Increases in the rate of settlement in ballast decreases its useful life and contributes to geometry roughness and poor ride quality. Based on laboratory and field studies, as well as mechanic-based models, the fouling condition of the ballast has been shown to have a profound effect on settlement and overall ballast life. Quantifying ballast settlement and the effect of maintenance at different stages of ballast life can define the State of Good Repair (SGR) for ballast. This paper presents an approach for predicting ballast life based on geotechnical principles and maintenance management philosophy. Over 200 revenue-service locations have been studied for developing this model for different tracks including mixed passenger and freight as well as only freight traffic. The approach presented in this paper can be used for optimizing ballast’s life-cycle costs through a maintenance management approach.

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