Material Performance Assessment of Cross-Tie Alternatives for Rail Applications

Historically, the rail industry has relied primarily upon the lumber industry for materials to manufacture wooden cross-ties. Future developments are needed as a result of the limited amount of raw timber available for the manufacturing timber cross-ties, which typically requires old growth timber. Over the past few decades, pre-stressed concrete has become a favorable alternative for rail companies and are increasing in popularity, but this solution still has a number of shortcomings. New material developments and advances in manufacturing technologies potentially allow for the development of sustainable material solutions that can be used to preserve and repair existing ties or incorporate recycled products into the manufacturing of new cross-ties. For these new alternatives it is important to look closely at their availability, durability, and their potential for reuse and recycling at the end of their service life. The objective of this research project is to identify and evaluate alternatives to wooden railroad cross-ties.