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Greenrail Project: innovative and sustainable railway sleepers

Contributed by: Greenrail s.r.l.

The Greenrail Project, which received funding from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 programme, aims at introducing to the world railway sector a new railway sleeper, capable of becoming the new standard. Greenrail sleepers, thanks to their innovative technology, can make the railway sector more sustainable, green and innovative, solving severe technical problems at the same time.
Greenrail Project: innovative and sustainable railway sleepers
Greenrail, an Italian, Milan-based company, has designed and patented in over 52 countries worldwide a new kind of a railway sleeper, consisting of an inner core in pre-stressed concrete and an outer shell made from a mix of recycled plastic and rubber collected from End-of-Life Tyres (ELT). Such composition of the sleeper allows to reuse as much as 35 tonnes of waste per 1 kilometre of a railway, which significantly contributes to the urban waste management issue. The technology is also in tune with circular economy concept, as the outer shells of used Greenrail sleepers may be reused for the production of new ones.

Apart from the sustainability-related features, Greenrail’s unique technology allows to tackle several technical problems occurring in standard, concrete railway sleepers. It reduces vibration and noise levels, cuts down on rails’ lateral displacement and ballast pulverisation, increases sleepers’ lifespan and requires 2.5 times less maintenance, which leads to a notable maintenance costs diminution. Being a tailor-made product, Greenrail sleepers can be designed and produced according to various international regulations and customers’ individual needs. They can be applied on different kinds of railways, including the high-speed ones.

Thanks to the innovative outer shell, Greenrail is the only sleeper in the world able to incorporate various smart systems. The company is currently in the phase of research and development of three other kinds of sleepers: Greenrail Solar, which integrates PV panels, transforming one kilometre of a railway into a photovoltaic field harvesting solar energy, Greenrail Linkbox - a Greenrail Solar sleeper equipped with various systems for communication or security data transfer, and Greenrail Piezo, able to harvest energy during trains’ passage.

Greenrail Project began in October 2016 and was a significant step forward in the company’s development. Four new professional figures have been hired, and another two engineers are expected to join the team by the end of 2017. Since the beginning, Greenrail Project has achieved several significant milestones, thanks to valuable collaborations with few important entities, such as Polytechnic University of Milan, Sustainable Development Foundation, Polytechnic University of Turin, Ecopneus, IdeaPlast and CNR Pisa. Currently, Greenrail is committed in the certification phase of its sleepers. First tests’ results confirm that the products comply with the requirements. A field test has been planned for November 2017. The main objective of the Project is to launch the innovative basic kind of sleeper onto the market by the end of 2017, and the smart ones – by the end of 2018.

To ensure growth of Project’s international recognition, Greenrail technology is currently being exhibited in the Energy Best Practices Area pavilion of EXPO 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Greenrail sleepers have been selected as one of 25 best projects for the future energy. Due to the rising interest in Greenrail products in various countries, the company has already initiated talks with national and international railway companies as well as foreign governments, in order to set up the first manufacturing plant by the end of 2018.

Greenrail's technology can be discovered in-depth by visiting the company's website (link available below).

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    Greenrail s.r.l.
    via Belsiana 71
    00187 Rome
    Italy
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