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New composite railway sleepers


Network Rail are using the first composite railway sleepers on their main line tracks between Salisbury and Warminster in Wiltshire.

Composite sleepers are an ingenious way to use unwanted plastics and food packaging. Environmentally friendly, they are lighter than concrete sleepers and will last longer than their wooden counterparts, as they don’t rot, degrade or split. They are also resistant to oil, water, chemicals and fungi.

Designed to last 50 years, composite sleepers can be repurposed to make new sleepers or other products, helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions in line with the UK’s Net Zero commitment of zero carbon emissions by 2050.


Rail is one of the greenest forms of travel and it’s great to see Network Rail finding such a productive use for waste materials, reducing the amount of rubbish heading to landfill.

It will be interesting to see what methods of non-destructive testing are most effective on composite materials for condition monitoring moving forward.

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