Multi-Frequency Antenna Array – Pavement Layer Thickness
October 29, 2018

Nondestructive Testing of Railway Ballast to Evaluate its Condition

Penetradar performed nondestructive testing (NDT) in France (the project site) to provide a solution to the problem of buried obstacles existing in the ballast that could hamper the production of ballast renewal machines. Penetradar recommended use of its ground penetrating radar (GPR) system for the survey and identified various antennas that may be suitable for the tests–two air-coupled antennas and a ground-coupled antenna. Additionally, Penetradar’s engineering team devised several specialized methodologies for testing and data analysis. A plan was developed to ascertain the efficacy of the antennas in identifying buried obstacles in ballast by using the various data collection methods. After data collection, analysis, and mapping of the detections, Penetradar provided its recommendations.


What a great time we had last year with our partner ETF  at their facility near Paris, France. The project involved determine the condition of the rail ballast and locating obstacles within ballast along the rail bed and shoulders. Obstructions can be located in advance of the renewal operation utilizing GPR . This task was accomplished utilizing a 500MHz (2ns) antenna with penetration depths of up to 2 meters. ETF is currently employing a 2 antenna system for their rail ballast renewal project with the French National Rail Network. Looking forward to assisting them in the near future.


Below are some pictures from the test site, samples of the mappings developed from the GPR data and design examples of the GPR structure.


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