Technical Reports

Identification of High-Speed Rail Ballast Flight Risk Factors and Risk Mitigation Strategies – Final Report

  • 06
  • Apr
  • 2015
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
OFFICE: RPD
SUBOFFICE: RPD-31
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-15/32
SUBJECT: High-Speed Passenger Rail
KEYWORDS: Ballast flight; high-speed rail; intercity passenger rail; Identification of High-Speed Rail Ballast Flight Risk Factors and Risk Mitigation Strategies – Final Report
ABSTRACT: The phenomenon of flying ballast is well-documented in high-speed rail operations. Displaced ballast particles from the track bed may cause damage to rolling stock as well as the track infrastructure, and wayside structures close to the right of way of the railroad may also be affected. This report provides comprehensive information to help identify potential causes and hazard consequences of ballast flight, determine potential risk mitigation strategies, and define the relevance of ballast flight risks in the current and planned U.S. passenger rail system. This report presents and discusses a conceptual risk framework, which covers factors that contribute to flying ballast and the consequences of flying ballast based on the location of interest. Five relevant risk factors for flying ballast are identified: operating speed, train design, dynamic load, track maintenance, and high winds.

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