Effective maintenance of railways requires a comprehensive assessment of the actual condition of the construction materials involved. In this regard, Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) stands as a viable alternative to the invasive and time-consuming traditional techniques for the inspection of these infrastructures. This work reports the experimental activities carried out on a test-site area within a railway depot in Rome, Italy. To this purpose, a 30 m-long railway section was divided into ten sub-sections reproducing different various physical and structural conditions of the track-bed. For more detail, combinations of varying scenarios of fragmentation and fouling of the ballast were reproduced. The set-up was then investigated using different multi-frequency GPR horn antenna systems. The effects of the different physical conditions of ballast on the electromagnetic response of the material were analysed for each scenario using time- and frequency-domain signal processing techniques. Parallel to this, modelling was provided to estimate fouling content. Interpretation of results has proven the viability of the GPR method in detecting signs of decay at the network level, thereby proving this technique to be worthy of implementation in asset management systems.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited