Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-04-2001, 02:33 AM
-ism -ism is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 12
I would just like someone or as many as feel the impetus to explain to me the purpose of all that gravel that is always strewn over and around the sleepers of train tracks.

Does anybody know?
Old 04-04-2001, 04:54 AM
Chrome Toaster Chrome Toaster is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: 12" from the outlet.
Posts: 322
Sleepers! I learn something new every day. I have always just called them railroad ties. So, are you British? (OK, can you tell I just looked it up?)

Anyway, I do believe it's to keep the weed population near the tracks to a minimum. Otherwise weeds begin to grow in the spring and by Mid-July time they're dry enough to easily catch fire with the help of a spark from a passing train.

At least that's why they do it in the wide open spaces. I don't know why they do it in the city setting. Perhaps to make it hard to walk or run right next to the trains so as to discourage trespassers/trainhoppers,etc.(?)

I will opine that railroad rocks are identical in every city, town, and wide spot in the railroad tracks in America. They are one of the only constants in the life of the weary traveler.
Old 04-04-2001, 05:06 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 23,751
I asked this here once before, and the answer I got that made the most sense was it keeps animals from walking along the tracks - because it'd be so uncomfortable for them.
Old 04-04-2001, 05:07 AM
SPOOFE SPOOFE is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: SPOOFE
Posts: 12,992
I always thought it was a ploy to lure kids near the tracks (kids just LOVE looking for nifty stuff in the gravel). Population control, you see.

"Ooh, gravel... *SPLAT!*"
Old 04-04-2001, 05:08 AM
Xerxes Xerxes is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 714
Well, http://"http://www.trainstrainstrain...fangloss.html" has definitions for:

Ballast. Selected material placed on the roadbed to support it and to hold track in line and surface. Ballast preferably consists of sized hard particles easily handled in tamping, which distribute the load, drain well and resist plant growth.

Subgrade. Gravel, crushed rock or the like, usually inferior to the ballast used in the track, spread on the surface of the cut or fill prior to distributing ties and ballast. That portion of ballast over 18" inches below bottom of ties is usually classified as subballast, commonly known as subgrade material.

Subballast. Any material of superior character, which can be spread on the finished subgrade of the roadbed, to provide better drainage, prevent upheaval by frost and better distribute the load over the roadbed.
So, some combination of load-distribution, frost-resistance, drainage and (as pointed out by Chrome Toaster) weed-control.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:23 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017