Photo: Lankhorst Rail

Lankhorst Rail to assist Network Rail in recycled plastic sleeper project

Railway (Photo: Lankhorst Rail) Lankhorst Rail

Network Rail has recently awarded Lankhorst Rail a contract to assist in the development of the next generation of railway sleepers, with the aim of exploring more environmentally friendly alternatives. The project focuses on the KLP Hybrid Rail Sleeper made from recycled plastics and designed to offer greater flexibility, resistance to temperature variations, and reduced CO2 emissions during manufacturing.

Lankhorst Rail, based in Sneek, the Netherlands, is a business unit within Lankhorst Engineered Products. They produce a KLP range of Hybrid Polymer Sleepers, an alternative to traditional wooden and concrete sleepers. Lankhorst Rail’s KLP Hybrid Rail Sleepers come in three standard variants: the 100-series track sleepers, the 200-series turnout bearers, and the 400-series bridge transoms. First installed in 2006 in the Netherlands, these sleepers have since gained approval from various authoritative bodies, including the German Federal Railway Authority, New Zealand Kiwi Rail, Tasmanian Rail Authority, London Underground, and the Malaysian Railway Authority.

In response to the growing concerns regarding CO2 emissions and the escalating global temperatures, Network Rail is investigating the potential benefits of composite sleepers constructed from recycled plastics, as an alternative to traditional concrete and wooden sleepers. The KLP Hybrid Rail Sleepers will enable Network Rail to assess various moulded profiles for their ability to withstand higher temperatures over prolonged periods. Notably, the UK has recently recorded its highest-ever temperature of 40.2°C, with an extended heatwave in September that saw temperatures exceeding 30°C for six consecutive days, surpassing the typical climate for that time of year

Aran van Belkom, Technical Director of Lankhorst Engineered Products: “We already offer a range of sleeper designs for specific applications that are optimised for bending stiffness and low thermal expansion. This will allow us to look at a broader range of alternative sleeper designs than is possible with other composite sleepers. Moreover, from an installation perspective, the KLP Hybrid Rail Sleeper allows the rail to be attached to the sleeper itself, since a baseplate is incorporated into the moulded sleeper geometry, enabling a quicker track installation.”

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at and

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