Collecting ballast

Surplus ballast must be removed. This happens not only for technical and safety reasons, but it also enables the collected ballast to be re-used where necessary.


The sweeper unit removes excess ­ballast from the sleeper surfaces and fills the sleeper cribs. The efficiency of this work unit determines the overall output of the machine during maintenance as the entire ballast bed profiling is usually performed in one pass behind the tamping machine. To increase output you can use several sweeper units in one machine.

The ballast picked up by the sweeper brush can be handled in different ways. The simpler design is a sweeper unit with a transverse conveyor belt, onto which the ballast is thrown from the brush. The conveyor belt then deposits the ballast on the ballast shoulder, either to the left or the right.

If the machine is equipped with a ballast hopper, the surplus ballast can be carried into the hopper via a steep conveyor belt.

The design variation with a split transverse conveyor belt achieves a higher machine output. The two halves of the conveyor belt throw the ballast simultaneously to the left and right of the ballast shoulder. Part of the ballast collected is always carried into the hopper via the steep conveyor belt.

The BDS ballast management system is equipped with the most powerful ballast collection device. It consists of two sweeper units and a fine sweeper brush. The first sweeper unit transports surplus ballast into the hopper. The second sweeper unit sweeps the sleeper surface and can also deposit the excess at the side.

This is followed by a fine sweeper brush for the final surface cleaning and dust removal.

Measuring the ballast profile

Efficient ballast management can be performed when the amount of ballast existing in the track is known. Machines can be equipped with laser measuring systems and integrated computer evaluation to determine the ballast profile.

A laser sensor scans the ballast cross-section without contact. On the computer display the measured profile can be superimposed by the image of the target profile. By comparing the actual data with the target data, the machine operator sees what action is necessary for the ballast profile and how much ballast must be displaced.

The computer can also display the excess or lack of ballast, for example as a bar chart. This device for checking the ballast profile enables extremely efficient ballast management. A ballast profiling machine with sweeper unit and ballast hopper is required for collecting and placing the ballast in the track.