These web pages reproduce the executive summary of the Britpave publication Slabtrack Life-Cycle energy study of railway track beds.
Visit the Britpave Shop to purchase Slabtrack Life-Cycle energy study of railway track beds as a hard copy (free to Britpave members)
Construction of new railways and upgrading existing lines forms a central part of European transport policy. In the UK, ballasted track bed remains the most commonly constructed, partly because of relatively low initial costs. Concrete slab track beds, while more expensive to construct, can have lower life-cycle costs and are being actively promoted for use in the UK.
This publication describes an evaluation of the life-cycle energy use impacts of ballasted track bed and two generic concrete slabtrack beds: cast-in sleeper and embedded track systems. The lifecycles were analysed taking into consideration the manufacturing, construction, maintenance, dismantling and recycling of the track bed components. The environmental impacts were then indicated by energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission.
Comparison of the results showed that concrete slab track beds are not associated with higher life-cycle energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, when compared with ballasted track bed.