Rail to use lighter, stronger 'green' composite sleepers
New Delhi: In a move aimed at making Indian Railways more eco-friendly, the government has decided to replace wooden sleepers with composite sleepers, which are not only lighter but also stronger.
According to a senior official in Railway Ministry, the national transporter has decided to use the composite sleepers in a limited way. The composite sleepers are being used mainly on girder bridges, the official said adding that such sleepers were first used by the Railways in the Moradabad division in 2003.
The official further 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 as these sleepers have an edge compared with the strength of wooden and channel sleepers.
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 Rs 25,000, whereas a channel sleeper costs about Rs 7,000," he said, adding that 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," the official said.
In June 2016, the Railway Board Executive Director (Track), in a letter to all the zonal offices, had 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.
Sleepers play an important role in the functioning of tracks as 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.