• Image: ‘instrumented rail track testing facility at University of Wollongong’
  • The Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) is an industry partner in research that has now commenced at the University of Wollongong to improve the assessment and control of mud pumping.

    Mud pumping is an issue for Australian east coast heavy haul rail operations, where the repeated loading on soil formations can move ground water further to the surface, resulting in track failure when this becomes excessive. This research is being conducted at the University of Wollongong under the guidance of Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna and supported by funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and financial and in-kind contributions from the following industry and academic partners:

  • ACRI
  • Geoharbour Australia
  • Coffey
  • SMEC
  • University of Newcastle
Traditional soil mechanics cannot explain mud pumping and this research will examine the drainage, soil parameter and rail operation loading impacts to identify and quantify the extent of the problem.

In addition to experimental laboratory testing and field research, existing theoretical models are being reviewed to understand if there are any possible extensions to inform the issue of mud pumping. Outcomes aim to include zone mapping and design parameters for sites prone to mud pumping, with completion currently scheduled for 2019-20.