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Traveling by train is an amazing experience in fast-paced city life nowadays. You get to witness the stunning vistas of nature, sprawling fields, cities teeming with people, or endless stretches of land with no sign of any life whatsoever. One more thing that you almost always see throughout your train-journey are those small stones lying alongside the track on which your train races.
Have you ever given any thought as to why there are almost always stones alongside a rail track?
What is track ballast?
To start with, the stones that you see lying close to the railway tracks are collectively called track ballast. It basically forms the trackbed on which the rail sleepers are kept. Track ballast is packed between the sleepers, in the areas below, and on the sides of railway tracks. I can already hear the question beginning to form in your head, what’s a rail sleeper?
A rail sleeper is a rectangular support that is usually kept perpendicular to the tracks. Rail sleepers are known by a few other names too, like a railroad tie or a crosstie. These are usually made of wood or pre-stressed concrete, although the latter is more widely used today. The function of rail sleepers is to hold the rails upright and properly spaced.