Friday, February 20, 2009

Green Sleepers on UK Trains

Britain's Network Rail is turning to recycled plastic in a trial of environmentally friendly sleepers. Network Rail is to fit up to 250 of the green sleepers, made from old car bumpers and plastic bottles, on the network this summer. The material will replace traditional timber sleepers, which are still common on slower lines.

The trial will see around 20 tonnes of waste material recycled to form the new sleepers. During the trial, Network Rail will test whether they can withstand the rigours of a running railway, and, once proven, will look to progressively roll them out across parts of the network.

Using recycled plastic to make sleepers has many advantages, not least reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill. Locally sourced, they can be made as long as needed, helping to reduce costs when compared to hardwood beams which have to be imported from managed forests thousands of miles away.

The sleepers are being developed and supplied by i-plas, a plastic waste recycling company, based in Halifax.

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