3D Soil Confinement System Delivers on Tough Performance Challenges

3D Soil Confinement System Delivers on Tough Ballast & Yard Performance Challenges

Presto Geosystems’ GEOWEB® 3D geocells technology has supported the rail industry for 40 years, for both new construction and repairs, even with challenging soft subgrades. The GEOWEB 3D system keeps infill confined and stable in the highest impact track areas and heaviest loading pavement areas.

When railroads encounter soft soils, they can halt operations and lead to costly downtime. Soft saturated subgrade under tracks causes speed reduction and, in severe cases, even derailment. Right-of-way embankment soils that become saturated after storm events often cause washouts or slides, impacting rail line safety and operations.

Soil Stabilisation Technology

The GEOWEB (geocells) system’s three-dimensional honeycomb structure confines and stabilises cohesionless soils, delivering strength and higher performance to soils than when left unconfined. The geocell technology is based on the interaction between hoop stresses in the cell walls and passive earth resistance of single or multi-layered geocell systems. Presto and their partners continue to lead research and development to advance cellular confinement technology for soil stability challenges in a wide range of site applications and markets.

Challenge 1: Ballast Stabilisation

Typical Mainline Track Problems

Heavier loads, faster speeds, and new railcar design loads are contributing to more track issues. Mainline track and high-stress areas, such as bridge abutments, crossing diamonds, and turn-outs are experiencing issues with settlement, pumping, and ballast contamination. All of these conditions can lead to increased maintenance and speed reductions.

3d soil confinement

Smart Ballast Technology

With aggregate fill confined within the GEOWEB 3D structure, the ballast layer is stable and reduces ballast pressure even under challenging soils and loading conditions. Confinement allows open-graded aggregate fill with low fines, facilitating good drainage and eliminating problems associated with poor drainage and saturated soils. Low-quality aggregate—even salvaged ballast—is commonly used for significant cost savings.

Accredited Testing Proves Performance

Rigorous testing at AAR TTCI and SmartRock™ testing at University of Kansas verified the GEOWEB 3D system’s benefits, finding ‘minimal movement and rotation’ of the ballast and having a significant impact on reducing maintenance and extending ballast life.

Key Benefits Identified by Research

  • Reduces ballast pressure & settlement (<50%)
  • Reduces ballast movement, lateral spreading, abrasion and ballast attrition
  • Reduces maintenance and tamping cycles

The same confinement benefits offer sustainable stabilisation of soil (topsoil, aggregate) on rail embankments and channels.

Challenge 2: Intermodal Yard Pavement Life-Cycle Costs

Class I Railroads and Short Lines utilise the GEOWEB 3D system for unpaved permeable surfaces in their yards, as well as in the base layer to stabilise and repair asphalt and concrete yards damaged by heavy loading stresses and harsh winter weather.

Key Performance & Cost Benefits

  • Use of lower-quality aggregate reduces installation costs
  • 3D confinement prevents infill movement that increases load-bearing capacity for paved areas in crane and stacked container areas
  • Extends pavement life and decreases long-term maintenance costs

3d soil confinement

Fast Response for Emergency & Flood Repair

Be prepared to repair washouts and track issues quickly and economically with one solution.

Fast to install without special equipment or labour; rail crews can deploy and install the GEOWEB sections efficiently and safely, limiting downtime of rail operations. Stock readily available allows for fast deployment by local railroad crews. Most repairs do not require large construction equipment.

Presto Geosystems offers a free project evaluation service to evaluate the unique needs of each project. Our recommendations will deliver a structurally sound, cost-effective solution based on three decades of accredited research and testing data.


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