With the train speed and axle load increasing, excessive stresses are produced and transmitted to the ballast layer, inducing rapid ballast degradation. To solve this issue, the under sleeper pads (USPs) have been widely applied between sleepers and ballast particles as the elastic layer. In this research, laboratory tests using half-sleeper track were carried out to study the ballast bed performance with or without the USPs under static and cyclic loading. Results show that applying the USPs reduces the track stiffness and can decrease the settlement. However, installing the USPs increases the ballast bed acceleration and the sleeper vertical acceleration. The contact areas of sleeper-ballast with USPs are over 5 times as those without USPs. The USPs assist reducing ballast degradation mainly by avoiding the ballast particle breakage at the sleeper-ballast interface and can increase the stress distribution at the longitudinal direction.
- Cyclic loading