The Australian government of Victoria has awarded a grant of A$500,000 to the Railway Technology Research Institute at Monash University (IRT Monash) to continue development of technologies for producing sleepers from recycled plastic. The funding is part of the ecologiQ program and follows on from the previous A$300,000 tranche. Railway Supply magazine reports this, citing zdmira.

Composite sleepers

Since 2015 IRT Monash has been working with local company Integrated Recycling to explore the potential of sleepers made from recycled polyethylene waste. Their work has resulted in Duratrack sleepers, which have been used successfully on stations, sidings, regional and commuter lines in Victoria and Queensland.

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A further grant will enable the institute to develop a new generation of composite sleepers for mainline applications. Australia currently has 52 million sleepers installed on its railways, of which 32 million are concrete sleepers, 11 million are timber sleepers, and 8.7 million are steel sleepers. The demand for sleepers will increase as the A$90 billion Big Build infrastructure project in Victoria gets underway.

Composite sleepers offer a number of advantages, including reduced noise and vibration, which creates a more comfortable environment for both passengers and people living near the railway. Plastic sleepers have a service life of up to 50 years, after which they can be recycled. It takes 100 tonnes of plastic sleepers for 1km of track, which costs A$3,000 to dispose of in a landfill

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