Austrak, Laing O’Rourke and USQ join forces on composite rail technology

The program will use fiber reinforced polymer composites to replace traditional timber bridge transoms in Australia.

Austrak (Brisbane, Australia), Laing O’Rourke (Dartford, UK) and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ, Darling Heights, Australia) have partnered to develop polymer composite solutions for bridge transoms in a $10 million project called Polymer Composite Transoms for Rail Bridge Deck Replacement (CompTrans). The consortium secured $3 million grant funding from the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) initiative to increase innovation and develop new technologies for industries in Australia.

The program will use fiber reinforced polymer composites to replace traditional timber bridge transoms, which are subject to warping and rotting, proving costly and disruptive due to constant repair. Australia has the sixth largest rail network in the world and it’s estimated that nearly 90% of the existing transoms will need replacement in the next 10 years. It is projected that in the next five years, Australian rail-track asset owners will move from a traditional timber-based system (with a limited lifespan of 15 years) to that of an engineered composites system (with a lifespan of 50 years).

The project will build on existing research at USQ’s Centre for Future Materials to commercialize materials and manufacturing technologies where it has been proven that strategically using polymer composites, results in sleeper/transom technology that requires less volume of material while complying with all strength and stiffness requirements of a railway system.

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