Together with three partners, voestalpine Railpro has developed an alternative, environmentally-friendly method of producing concrete railway sleepers.
The driver behind the development of the ECO sleepers was a program run by the Dutch rail transport agency ProRail, intended to encourage its suppliers to improve their CO₂ balance. The more effort a company makes to reduce its CO₂ emissions, the better it is rated on a 5-step evaluation scale and favored by ProRail.
Working closely with partners Spanbeton, de Meteoor and Bonder Recycling, voestalpine Railpro has developed an alternative, environmentally-friendly method of producing concrete sleepers. When it comes to the new construction or upgrading of railway tracks, conventional NS90 concrete railway sleepers are one of the most significant contributors to CO₂ emissions. Together, the partners developed the idea of manufacturing railway sleepers from recycled track ballast, and using blast furnace cement in place of conventional cement. This involves taking old ballast from the track bed and preparing it for reuse as an aggregate in concrete sleepers. The blast furnace cement used consists of byproducts from the steel production process. These two raw materials form the basis for producing a completely new, high quality concrete railway sleeper which, compared with NS90 sleepers, emits 20% less CO₂ during production.
In addition, voestalpine Railpro has been awarded the grade 4 level certificate for CO₂ awareness for developing the ProRail ECO sleeper. Now, voestalpine Railpro is working together with its three partners to examine whether, in addition to the manufacture of sleepers, recycled ballast, sand and blast furnace cement can also be used in the manufacture of other concrete products for the railway industry.