Arup co-authors report on making freight rail more sustainable using recycled materials

Natalie Cameron Natalie Cameron Australasia Press Office,Sydney
2 June 2022

Arup has partnered with the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) and the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) on a ground-breaking report that aims to reduce waste and the rail industry’s impact on the environment by informing and upskilling Australasian rail providers around opportunities to use recycled materials within freight rail and infrastructure projects.

By exploring a wide range of recycled material options, including recycled plastic, ballast, concrete, water, rubber, glass and steel, and their context for use in the construction and maintenance of rail infrastructure, the report aims to empower the sector to invest in these materials and drive an increase in research, trials, and implementation across rail networks in Australasia.

As Australia experiences unprecedented investment in rail freight and infrastructure projects, the report aims to support the industry to seize the opportunity to build our cities’ infrastructure in a more sustainable way, to benefit the future natural environment and our communities. 

“This research highlights how recycled materials will assist with adopting circular economy principles, which also has applicability to passenger rail. I’m excited to see our industry making genuine progress on the journey towards smarter, more sustainable rail,” said Alice Reis, Australasian Rail Leader at Arup.

In 2018, passenger rail supported more than a billion journeys, playing a crucial role in the daily lives of millions of people – with a single commuter train able to take the equivalent of 578 cars off the road, helping to relieve urban congestion and mitigate lost economic productivity. However, the construction of rail infrastructure continues to rely heavily on carbon intensive materials. 

“Delivering this research with ACRI and ARRB was a collaborative effort that brought stakeholders across the rail sector together to unpack the challenges being faced with sustainable material transitions,” said James Macken, Foresight Consultant at Arup.

View the report

Read the interactive research report, Sustainability options for freight rail: Recycled materials.