Railways racing ahead with ‘green’ drive
new delhi — Aiming to become more eco-friendly, Indian Railways has decided replace wooden sleepers with composite sleepers that are not only lighter but also stronger.
“The Railways has decided to use the composite sleepers in a limited way. It is being used mainly on girder bridges,” a senior Railway Ministry official said,
Composite sleepers were first used by the Railways in the Muradabad division in 2003. They have an edge compared with the strength of wooden and channel sleepers.
The official said that no complaint has been received till date about the use of these sleepers, which were deployed on a bigger scale from 2016 in over 10 zones.
The official also pointed out that composite sleepers, comprising a mixture of steel and fibre plastic, costs more as compared to the other sleepers. “The cost of a composite sleeper is about Rs25,000, whereas a channel sleeper costs about Rs7,000,” he said, adding that cost is the big factor.
He said the Railways preferred them over wooden sleepers because of environmental issues that cropped up over the cutting of trees.
“This decision has been taken in the wake of a Supreme Court order imposing restrictions on cutting trees. If successful, all wooden sleepers will be replaced with composite sleepers.”
In June 2016, the Railway Board Executive Director (Track), in a letter
to all the zonal offices, said that the Research, Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) was planning to replace wooden sleepers with those made of composite material. It would initially be tried on bridges.
The primary function of a sleeper is to grip the rail to the gauge and to distribute the rail load to ballast
with acceptable induced pressure.
Pavwan Droliaa, managing director of Asterix Reinforced Limited, which deals in manufacturing of composite materials, said that fibre-reinforced foamed urethane (FFU) composite sleepers are made of rigid polyurethane reinforced with glass fibre. —