Below Rail Infrastructure, Engineering

AusRAIL PLUS: Plasser collaborating to better manage ballast

Since 1953 Plasser & Theurer has supplied more than 16,300 heavy duty machines for installing, renewing and maintaining rail tracks and overhead lines around the world. Despite this long and successful history, the company has emphasised a focus on new technologies with its research and development team.

One example of this is DynlaTrack, a cooperative project with the Chair and Institute of Road, Railway and Airfield Construction at Munich Technical University (TUM), considered the best address for well-founded laboratory analyses with practical relevance on the permanent way.

Plasser & Theurer tells Rail Express when company representatives visited the institute at TUM, it was immediately obvious its passion lies in the track as a transport route of the present and future. Head of the Institute Professor Stephan Freudenstein, and deputy head Dr.-Ing. Walter Stahl, exude this attitude along with their team, which includes Sophie Feurig, whose doctoral thesis, ‘Analysis and elimination of mud spots in the network of Deutsche Bahn AG, focussed on a detailed analysis of dynamic track stabilisation in the laboratory.

Through the joint research project, DynlaTrack, Plasser & Theurer looked to utilise the team’s and its own passion for and know-how about the track and its components.

The company says the aim of the cooperation with TUM is to take account of the changing conditions in rail infrastructure maintenance and to present the subject academically in a doctoral thesis.

The research focus is on how the new track types with additional elastic components influence the system behaviour of ballasted track and how the machine technologies of the Dynamic Track Stabiliser (DTS) optimise the work results.

The DynlaTrack research project, initiated by Plasser & Theurer, focuses on three different types of track structure. These are the three most common sleeper types with their standard fastenings which are in use at Deutsche Bahn: prestressed concrete sleepers of types B70, B90 and B07So. They have not only a different geometry but, in combination with their respective rail pads, also different elastic properties. On the B07So concrete sleeper additional elasticity is introduced into the system due to a plastic pad on the underside of the sleeper. This elasticity has, amongst others, a particularly positive impact on the load distribution and consequently a wear-reducing effect on the track ballast.

Patience, rigour and, above all, persistence are characteristics required of the research project manager when setting up the experiments. Sophie Feurig is the ideal person for this. She is working diligently on her doctoral thesis and, within this project, is fully focused on dynamic track stabilisation.

The detailed analysis of the results has great potential: The basic research provides an understanding of the complexity of the track in the elastic ballast superstructure. Thanks to new materials and their impact on the working parameters, the capacities of this infrastructure are constantly expanding. And this wows not only the technical experts.


You can visit Plasser Australia at stand 345 at AusRAIL PLUS 2019 in Sydney from December 3 to 5. Find out more about Plasser & Theurer Research here.