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Greenrail, innovative and sustainable railway sleepers: the greener solution for railway sector

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Greenrail (Greenrail, innovative and sustainable railway sleepers: the greener solution for railway sector)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-09-30

Greenrail is a sustainable railway sleeper made of a concrete inner core with an outer shell made of recycled plastic and End of Life Tyres (ELTs). Every kilometre of railway line armed with Greenrail sleepers can recover up to 35 tons of ELTs and recycled plastic.The railway sector hasn’t been innovated during the past 50 years and nowadays 80% of the global sleepers are still made of pre-stressed concrete.The concrete sleepers present several weaknesses such as high rigidity, inhomogeneous pressure distribution between the lower contact surface of concrete sleeper and the ballast, high pulverization of ballast, low resistance to lateral displacement high noise, high vibration and high maintenance costs. Greenrail represents the solution for the listed problems. As a matter of fact, Greenrail sleeper is able to reduce the rigidity, the vibration and noise, the ballast pulverization and to lengthen the lifespan cutting the maintenance costs. Furthermore, Greenrail, thanks to the outer shell made of second raw materials, is contributing to the Circular Economy principles’ development, following also the European directives, which are driving the transport sector to a new sustainable mobility. Greenrail is the only sustainable sleeper able to integrate smart technologies for harvesting energy and communicating the diagnostic data. The overall objective of the project is to make Greenrail sleepers become the new sustainable standard in the railway sector, offering technical, environmental and socio-economic advantages. Thanks to the SME Instrument Phase 2 funding, Greenrail has produced and launched onto the market the Greenrail Basic, finalizing the first licensing contract with an American company.Furthermore the first prototypes of Greenrail Solar, LinkBox and Piezo have been produced and laid on field for the dedicated pilot site and demonstration activities. The results of the tests conducted on the two pilot sites have been collected in the last two deliverables produced by Greenrail showing the potential of Greenrail Basic and Greenrail smart sleepers.
Greenrail in the first twelve months of the project achieved all the goals foreseen so far. The design and the production phase have led to the production of the first stock of Greenrail Basic sleepers in order to conduct all the mechanical tests required for the certification. Their results following the Italian and European specifications are positive.Meanwhile the system requirements with the selection and first validation of photovoltaic panels, sensors and piezo systems have been evaluated and tested for the design of the first prototypes of Greenrail smart sleepers planned in the second half of the project. Furthermore, the commercial negotiations with potential clients from European and extra-European countries have started and are ongoing, and the first manufacturing plant’s design has been created and shared with the potential partners. Greenrail, during the reported period, has also hired 4 new professional figures for the project’s implementation.In the second half of the project Greenrail has finalized all the activities foreseen in the project and it has also reached all the objectives with excellent results.In fact, the Greenrail Basic has been launched onto the market by the end of 2017, finalizing the first license contract with an American company for a whole amount of 75€ mln. Furthermore, the first stretch constructed with Greenrail Basic has been implemented on Modena – Sassuolo railway line in order to conduct field tests that have ensured the technical and environmental advantages of the sleeper.Beside the Greenrail basic sleeper, the Greenrail Solar, Piezo and LinkBox prototypes have been produced and another pilot site has been finalized in Reggio Emilia-Sassuolo railway line. Field tests have been conducted and collected in the last deliverable (4.7) ensuring the potential of these smart sleepers.All of the activities conducted during the second half of the project have been disseminated and exploited through a steady activity. A dedicated event has been organized on 7th of September in order to show to a wider range of stakeholders the pilot site of Greenrail smart sleepers. Italian Railway authorities, Politicians, European representatives, Industrial and scientific partners joined the event.In addition, Greenrail has won several prizes during the last year, the most important is the award for the best Start Up of the year “StartupItalia Open Summit 2017”.
Greenrail vision is based on the conviction that the future and planet’s protection cannot leave out the development of a sustainable industry. The company mission is to find the most efficient and sustainable solutions in the railway sector, able to generate value and wealth for the market, civil society and environment. As documented in our Feasibility study for Phase 1, there is a positive growth trend both for ELTs and recycled plastic markets - growing sectors in European and extra-European countries.Such recyclable waste management contributes to the creation of new markets, especially when the second life products markets does not exist yet. Creation of new markets means new business and new green jobs opportunities, driving significant benefits to society and to the railway infrastructure’s development.In addition, Greenrail sleepers reduce railway noise and vibration, which is especially beneficial for the densely inhabited areas and at the same time improves the quality of the journey for the passengers of the train.The structure of the sleeper allows also to reduce the ordinary maintenance costs with a positive economic impact for the potential clients.Greenrail aims at becoming the new sustainable standard for the railway sector and the expected results are also related to the improvement of the three smart products, i.e. Greenrail Solar, LinkBox and Piezo. The innovation introduced by the Smart sleepers is related to the opportunity to transform the railway line into a photovoltaic field, and to communicate diagnostic data for train safety, transforming the railway infrastructure from passive to active one.Greenrail technology allows a significant contribution to the waste management issue, notably improving the quality and performance of railway infrastructure at the same time.