The problem of tracks getting washed away because of rain, brimming natural basins, floods and coastal disturbances may be a thing of the past if the Railways’ new experiment of using jute to hold soil together succeeds.

Pioneering exercise

The Eastern Railways has undertaken a pioneering exercise to give a boost to the sagging jute industry.

Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will, on Sunday, kick-start rehabilitation work on tracks at two sections under the Howrah Division using the new jute geo-textile technique, which is considered a superior method to the one in use currently.

He will inaugurate the works on the 6.61-km Bultikuri-Dankuni section and the 4.67-km Balighat-Dankuni section under the Howrah Division in West Bengal.

‘Encouraging results’

The Railways intend to use jute geo-synthetics not only as a blanketing layer on the formation of the tracks, but along the slopes of the formation for arresting erosion of soil.

This will do away with the practice of using steel and iron nets to hold boulders stacked for strengthening the embankment.

According to officials, tests have yielded encouraging results in controlling subsidence of pavements, arresting migration of soil particles, serving as a drainage layer along its plane, prevents puncturing of formation by the ballast. Moreover, it is cheap and organic.

The problem faced by the Railways is that over a period of time the ballast punctures the surface of the formation up to a length of one metre, posing difficulty in maintenance of line and level at such locations.

Troublesome spots

The experience is that rectifications don’t last long, particularly in the monsoons, besides affecting movement of traffic on such stretches. These troublesome spots require frequent attention, with more 15 to 20 visits a year.

The worst part is that the Railways is forced to impose speed restrictions on such stretches to maintain safety of rail traffic and passengers.

The Railways has developed the technique in collaboration with the National Jute Board, which has been entrusted with the task of exploring new markets for boosting use of jute goods.