Recycled plastic railway sleepers have been installed on Victoria’s regional train network for the first time, with funding assistance from Sustainability Victoria.
According to a Sustainability Victoria statement, the recycled sleepers are an innovative replacement for the V/Line’s current concrete sleepers.
“V/Line trains are heavier and tend to run faster than metro trains, so they need incredibly sturdy sleepers. Concrete has always been the most reliable option – until now,” the statement reads.
“Testing shows the recycled plastic sleepers won’t melt, crack or flake off under pressure. They won’t leach into the environment and are much less carbon intensive to make.”
The product was installed near Wyndham Vale train station in late July.
“Made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural plastic waste, the recycled sleepers are an environmental alternative,” the statement reads.
“For every kilometre installed, the sleepers use 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would’ve otherwise gone to landfill.”
The result of two years of development and testing at the Monash Institute of Railway Technology and Integrated Recycling, the sleepers were partly funded though Sustainability Victoria’s Research, Development and Demonstration grants and the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund.
The product will last up to 50 years, with low maintenance requirements meaning fewer servicing closures on V/Line services.
“The sleepers can be recycled once it’s time to replace them – a great example of how a circular economy can work,” the statement reads.