Ballast Cleaning Machine

Ballast Cleaning Machine Image

The function of the ballast cleaning machine (BCM) is to carry out the cleaning of the ballast by removing muck, thereby improving the drainage of track and elasticity of the ballast bed. Basically, the machine excavates and picks up ballast by means of a cutter chain and carries it to a set of vibrating screens where muck is separated and thrown out by a chute and clean ballast is transferred back to the track.

Ballast Cleaning Machines have the following basic Units:-

i) Excavating Unit

ii) Screening Unit

iii) Conveyor system for distribution of ballast and disposal of muck

iv) Track lifting and slewing unit.

v) Recording unit.

Three types of ballast cleaning machines are available:-

A.  Plain track ballast cleaning machine RM -80

B.  Points and crossing ballast cleaning machine RM -76

C.  Shoulder ballast cleaning machine ( SBCM)

Ballast regulation and profiling become necessary primarily due to the following:

i) After a maintenance operation such as tamping of track or screening of ballast.

ii) After relaying of track

iii) After training out ballast. 
A. Plain Track BCM (RM - 80)

Description of the machine:

The machine is powered by two independent power units (total engine output: 666 kw) with air-cooled Deutz Diesel engines type BF- 12 L 513C which drive the pump distribution gears via cordon shafts. The front-engine powers the hydraulic pumps for all conveyor belt drives, lifting movements, and hydraulic propulsion, both in working and traveling mode. The rear engine provides power for hydraulic pumps for the excavation chain drive and the screen drive and also powers the hydraulic propulsion for traveling.

The chassis has sturdy welded construction. The flame and other units are joined by welding. The machine is equipped with buffers and a drawbar on either end.

There are two powered bogies, each having two power axles. The powered axles of both bogies are driven by a hydraulic motor through a gear and a hydraulic multiple disc clutch. In working mode, the speed is variable from 0 to 1000 meters/hr. There is a driving cab at the rear end of the machine having all controls necessary for travel. There is a working and driving cabin at the front end of the machine having all controls necessary for travel and work. This cabin is located right in front of the cutter bar which gives the operator a good view not only of controls and panels but also of the working units.
The machine is equipped with a pneumatic block brake acting on all powered wheels. There is a hand-operated braking valve for direct pneumatic braking. The machine also has a through brake pipeline to facilitate movement in a train formation.

There is a 24V DC plant for lights battery charging, electric control and monitoring systems of the diesel engines, and floodlights during the night working.

For excavating the ballast, there is an endless scraper chain located between the bogies and running under the track when working. The chain is basically composed of scraper blades with fingers, intermediate links, and bolts. Chain speed is variable between 2.4 to 4.0 meters per second.

The excavation chain is guided in two slanted lateral channels and one horizontal channel. The top of the lateral guides is pivoted to the machine frame and hydraulically adjusted. The lower part of the chain guide is parallel to the machine body and is made of wear-resistant steel. For protection against dust, noise, and safety reasons, the lateral guides are covered with solid rubber sheets that open by hinges.

At the beginning of work at a site, the cutter bar is inserted underneath the sleepers and connected to the lateral guides by quick action locks. Hydraulic hoists are provided for easy handling of the cutter bar. At the end of the work at a particular site, the cutter bar is removed.

The screening unit consists of three vibrating sieves of the following square mesh sizes:

Upper screen:80 mm
Middle screen:50 mm
Lower screen:36 mm

The vibrations are provided by hydraulically driven rotating flyweights. In super-elevated curves, the entire unit is hydraulically adjusted by the operator to keep it horizontal.

The distributing conveyors receive the cleaned ballast and distribute it evenly across the entire surface of the track right behind the excavating chain.

From underneath the screening unit, the waste drops to the conveyor belt which carries it to a hydraulically adjustable belt controlled from the cabin. The waste can be discharged outside the track by means of the tilting waste conveyor.

A track lifting and slewing unit are located next to the cutter bar for adjusting the excavation depth and for avoiding obstacles.

B. Points and Crossings Ballast Cleaning Machine (RM-76):

Description of the machine:
RM -76 Ballast Cleaning Machine is capable of carrying out deep screening of ballast on turnouts and also in the plain track. The main features of this machine are similar to RM-80 in addition, it can perform the function of Ballast Cleaning of Points and Crossings without dismantling them. The cutter bar can be extended by adding intermediate links, each measuring 500 mm and a maximum of eight links can be used making the total excavation width 7.72 meters.

The machine has Deutz make two diesel engines of 396 HP and 221 HP which give power for hydraulic and pneumatic systems, and electrical circuits.

The excavation unit consists of an excavating chain of 82 scraper shovels and 82 intermediate links. Scrap er shovel is fixed with 2 scrapping fingers.

The distributing unit consists of two ballast distributor belts on both sides of the track to distribute clean ballast at desired locations.

The muck disposal unit throws away the muck outside track through a waste conveyor belt.

The screening unit consists of 3 sets of screens and the total screen area is 21 Square meters. The unit has three square meshes sizes of 80 mm, 50 mm, and 36 mm. The screens vibrate with Hydraulic power.

iii) Working Principle

The excavating chain designed in pentagon shape cuts the ballast bed and carries the ballast and muck through the chain- guides to the screening unit. The freely vibrating screen with linear vibration affects the separation of ballast and muck. Underneath the vibrating screen, the muck falls on a conveyor belt which then carries this muck to a sewable conveyor belt (which can be folded also during travel). This sewable belt is called a waste conveyor and it throws the muck outside the track. The cleaned ballast is led directly onto the distributor conveyor belts and from there it is distributed over the entire ballast profile.

iv) The capability of the Machine

It is capable of disposing of muck along with cess at a distance of more than 7 meters from the center of the track. Lifting of the track up to 100 mm and slewing up to ±300 mm can be achieved.

The machine can deep screen 1 in 12 turnouts in 1 hr. 30 minutes and can deep screen plain track up to 140 -150 meters per effective hour.

2.4.4 Shoulder Ballast Cleaning Machines

The machine is used for cleaning shoulder ballast to improve the drainage of the track. Two types of Shoulder Ballast Cleaning Machines are available on Indian Railways. These are -

i) Shoulder Ballast Cleaning Machine ( Plasser make - FRM 80)

ii) Shoulder Ballast Cleaning Machine (KERSHAW make - KSC 600)
C.  Shoulder Ballast Cleaning Machine - FRM-80 (Plasser make):
 The main features of this machine are similar to RM -80. The machine is provided with two excavating cutter chains, one on either side. Each chain excavates and picks up the shoulder ballast and directs it to a set of vibrating screens where muck is screened away and cleaned ballast is deposited on the shoulders of the ballast profile. 

FRM-80 Machine Image

The machine has the following basic units:-

- Excavating wheel and scarifier

- Hopper assembly /bucket

- Screen drive assembly

- Broom assembly

- Conveyor system

Heavy-duty Scarifier breaks up the mud pockets underneath the sleeper ends to allow the track to drain. The ballast is transferred to the screening unit by the excavating wheel having Hoppers/buckets. The reclaimed ballast is distributed back to the shoulder area of the ballast profile. The machine completes the job by shaping the reclaimed ballast with the built-in Shoulder Regulator Wings and then finally sweeps the sleepers by broom.  


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