Trains travelling through Melbourne’s Richmond station are now running on railway sleepers made from recycled plastic as part of an 18-month trial.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne were at Richmond train station on Monday to see the first of 200 sleepers being installed.
Produced in Mildura by Integrated Recycling, the Duratrack sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste, including cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers all sourced in Australia.
The recycled sleepers have a potential lifespan of up to 50 years, are half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and require far less maintenance.
The Victorian Government has invested $630,000 through grant programs delivered by Sustainability Victoria to make the project a reality.
For every kilometre of track installed, 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill will be recycled.
The product is the result of more than two years of research and product development led by Integrated Recycling and Monash University, with the sleepers already up and running at four Victorian tourist railways including the iconic Puffing Billy.
Introducing the new sleepers, approved for use on Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, are part of environmental requirements included in the Victorian Government’s current contract with Metro Trains.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the project is a great example of the circular economy created through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday.
Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne said it’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations.