Ballast flight: survey, causal analysis, suggestions for reducing risks

This project develops an interview-based methodology in order to collect information related to ballast flight in Switzerland (“hot spots”, history of events, etc). It intends to identify the possible causes associated with this phenomenon on the Swiss railway network.

Ballast flight is a serious matter for the Swiss Federal Railways, mainly in winter. The reasons for these projections remain uncertain as well as how to avoid them. In this context, the Swiss Federal Railways have mandated TRACE to investigate the phenomenon and suggest potential solutions.

This research first evaluates the scope of the problem by reviewing the existing literature and international practices. The second part includes interviews with rail track personnel in order to understand the problem in situ, a task ensured by the Urban Sociology Laboratory (LASUR). Based on the results, the researchers suggest potential causes and offer recommendations.

This research project lasting six months is supervised by the Transportation Center and carried out by the LASUR. It is sponsored by Swiss Federal Railways.

Principal investigators Prof. Vincent Kaufmann, Michaël Thémans
Project manager Derek Christie
Period 2012
Laboratories LASUR, TRACE