Do You Know Why Crushed Stones Are Placed On Railway Tracks? This Is Why

Being a Mumbaikar, commuting via local trains has been a part of my life since childhood. The love of watching farms and fields passing by is one of the most memorable moments that I cherish. But have you wondered why stones are actually placed on the railway tracks?

The crushed stones you see alongside railroad tracks are what is known as the ballast. It basically forms the trackbed on which the railway sleepers are kept. A railway sleeper is a rectangular support that is usually kept perpendicular to the tracks. (Image below is of sleeper)


So, the steel track on top of the ground is subject to heat expansion and contraction due to friction between the train and the track, ground movement and vibration, precipitation buildup from rough weather, and weed and plant growth from underneath. So answer to the problems lies in these stones.



The whole process starts with bare ground. The foundation is then built on the land to raise the track high enough.

1. They are elevated so that it won’t get flooded easily.

railway 1


2. The crushed stones are meant to keep the wooden rail ties in place.



3. These crushed stones also keep the railway tracks in place and help prevent the wooden beams from sliding.



4. They also inhibit the growth of weeds and vegetation that otherwise would quickly take over the railway tracks.

railway trackss


5. These crushed stones are not smooth but have sharp edges so that the wooden beams don’t slide over each other.



6. The ballast distributes the load of the ties across the foundation, allows for ground movement, thermal expansion, and weight variance.



This question was originally answered on Quora.

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Posted by

Hema Sanghavi

A crazy Bibliophile who is an ambivert. Harry Potter fanatic, and a foodie. Usually ends up reading fan-fiction and dreams of writing one!

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