High-Speed Radar Scanning for Strategic Rail Track Maintenance

8 Hockings Street,
PO Box 3934,
Queensland 4101,
South Brisbane,

GroundProbe provides high-speed rail ballast radar scanning using the X-TRACK™ ground penetrating radar (GPR) system, for strategic rail track maintenance.

We offer a service to characterise ballast, sub-grade and drainage condition. Our service allows clients to make significant cost savings in their undercutting and track remediation programmes. Our unique capability is to convert geophysical data into continuous maps of the operational parameters required to maintain track.

Ballast scanning system

The high-speed (100km/hr+) X-TRACK ballast scanning system continuously monitors ballast and sub-ballast quality, condition and degradation rates. This information allows track maintenance to be prioritised and focused, thereby drastically reducing maintenance costs, improving track availability and increasing profitability.

High-speed ballast scanning system

Near-capacity track usage means that minimal time is available to maintain track. It is therefore vital that maintenance operations are run as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The X-TRACK high-speed ballast scanning system rapidly classifies track condition without interrupting normal freight or passenger operations. This ensures that degraded track is prioritised for maintenance and resources are not wasted repairing track that is in good condition.

Information for planning track maintenance, schedules and budgets

GPR also enables track maintenance managers to be proactive rather than reactive by providing them with the necessary information for planning maintenance, schedules and budgets. Use of GPR for ongoing monitoring of track condition over time enables qualitative assessments of track degradation rates to be made so that track can be remediated before costly speed restrictions are imposed.

Benefits of using GPR for high-speed track condition monitoring

The direct benefits of our X-TRACK ballast scanning system for rail GPR for high-speed track condition monitoring include:

  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Improved track availability
  • Prioritisation of areas requiring urgent maintenance
  • Information on ballast degradation rates
  • Improved tactical planning for undercutter operators
  • Rapid characterisation of large areas on an ongoing basis
  • Delineation of areas degrading rapidly and requiring intervention
  • Quality control/assurance of track maintenance works and upgrades, including ongoing monitoring of their performance

The overriding advantage is the ability to optimise remediation of ballast and drainage for sustained increase in track throughput. When such valuable data is correlated with other engineering datasets, long-term planning is greatly improved.

High-speed data classification of ballast condition

The high-speed data classification that GroundProbe offers delivers relevant ballast condition parameters such as:

  • Ballast depth across three offsets
  • Ballast volumes calculated at 1m, 50m and 1km intervals
  • Derived cutter depth (the depth to which the ballast should be undercut to remove the optimum thickness of fouled ballast and replace with clean ballast without causing damage to the underlying formation), which can be used to provide the optimal setup configuration of the undercutter for remediating specific track
  • Remediation requirement (whether the ballast needs replacing and is based on the level of total fouling from clay and coal)
  • Screenability (the ability of the ballast cleaning machine to screen [clean] the ballast and replace it on the trackbed)
  • Drainage condition
  • Ballast pockets

Parameter sets are optimised to suit specific maintenance and renewal strategies. This information allows our customers to monitor and target ballast renewal programmes with a much higher lever of efficiency and certainty.

Other services we offer include:

  • Presentation of data in spatial database referenced to our clients’ asset databases
  • Civil engineering information on track performance
  • Other geophysical services along the rail corridor such as rock strength profiling and void detection
  • Utilities and sub-ballast drainage pit mapping
  • Correlation of GPR and track-recording car data
  • Rail flaw detection

About GroundProbe

GroundProbe provides precise, key information for risk management. Renowned internationally for its slope stability radar, GroundProbe’s unique measurement systems have expanded to provide sub-surface mapping for global infrastructure and mining applications.

Critical information is essential to improve profitability and reduce risk. GroundProbe provides state-of-the-art subsurface mapping solutions that provide efficient and cost-effective ground management. GroundProbe’s solutions drastically reduce the need for trenching, excavation and drilling, and enable timely and informed decision making. Our safety record and operational competence make us the preferred supplier of sub-surface information to the major blue-chip companies.

With over 170 staff in offices in Australia, Africa, North America and South America, and expansion into Asia and Europe, customers benefit from GroundProbe’s global footprint.

Inland Rail

Inland Rail is a proposed freight rail corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane that will further connect south-east Queensland by rail with Adelaide and Perth in Australia.


8 Hockings Street

PO Box 3934

Queensland 4101

South Brisbane



+61 7 3010 8923 +61 7 3010 8999 +61 7 3010 8988