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Composite Railway Sleepers

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Glenn Melvin

13 September 2019, 9:32am

Lateral stability in hot weather, whilst there is a lot of information on manufacturers sites about their ability to perform as good as other sleepers I would like to hear from any maintenence engineers or others who have long term experience of their use in CWR, particularly in light rail systems.

Gavin John Livie

15 October 2019, 10:33am

Hi Glenn,

It appears that you have not received an answer to your question, so I hope to provide some qualitative informtion in the absence of direct data.

Most composite sleepers are designed to replace timber sleepers, and the performance characteristics are similar in every respect with the notable exception of durability, where composite sleepers are signiifcantly more durable, and designed to last in excess of 40 years, making this performance closer to concrete than timber.

Your question relates to lateral stability, and again like most characteristics the lateral resistance is similar to timber.  However, some composite sleepers incorporate features to enhance lateral stability, either using embossed geometric shapes on the long edges, or sometimes features on the underside.  In both instancces these are designed to increase the interference fit into the surrounding ballast, which increases the lateral friction when installed in ballast.  The increases achieved make a difference, but I have personally not seen any hard data.

There is another option, in the event of requiring a step change in the order of magnitude. This would be in additon to that provided by the composite sleepers. Most composites, which use a similar dimesional size, and geometry to timber sleepers; can be fited with Lateral Resistance End Plates, which can be clamped to the sleeper ends, or in the centre of the sleepers.  This type of addtional device increases the lateral resistance by a substantial order of magnitude.

I have attached a data-sheet for Composite Sleepers.  I hope this will assist even as such a late reply.

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Glenn Melvin

18 October 2019, 3:20pm

Many thanks for your response Gavin, most useful and appreciated.

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