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Is GRP Composite the Answer to Speeding Up Improvements to Our Rail Network?

By Stuart Burns December 3, 2013

Extract from article in Rail Technology Magazine Oct/Nov 2013

With glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) technology now a standard construction material in a variety of industries, is it time the rail industry took a fresh look at this versatile and durable composite? Stuart Burns, managing director of Dura Composites, explains why GRP offers significant improvements over traditional materials and is providing innovative and sustainable solutions for a range of key rail projects.

Whilst GRP has been used successfully since the 1930s in the manufacture of cars, trucks, boats and aircraft, the recognition of its benefits as a key construction material are somewhat more recent. Although traditional building materials such as wood, concrete and steel have proved enormously successful over the years, they do have a range of limitations – which recent innovations in GRP materials are now able to address.

Working with several key Network Rail contractors including Amco, Essex-based Dura Composites has supplied and manufactured bespoke GRP solutions for the rail industry in recent years, including anti-slip walkways for maintenance and wash areas, station platforms, tubular hand railing, signal box access structures and ballast retention systems.

Stefan Jastak, senior buyer at Amco Rail, described his experience of using GRP: “Efficient and sustainable solutions have always been at the core of our work for Network Rail. In choosing GRP from Dura Composites, we’ve been able to continue to innovate whilst delivering timely results that will last well into the future.

“We are always looking ahead and embracing new technologies that help us do more with less, and have found that the low weight and ease of use of GRP has significantly reduced possession times on major projects such as ballast retention systems, walkways and bridge refurbishments.

“Close collaboration and strong communication between Amco and the knowledgeable Dura team has been the key to success. For example, they provided our teams with hands-on trackside support during night shifts to ensure the whole team is adept at working with GRP. We look forward to working with the team on future projects.”

So how exactly is GRP composite technology speeding up improvements to the UK rail network? To answer this question fully, it’s important to look at the benefits and key limitations of traditional construction materials. […read full article by downloading here]

RTM article - DLR_Washbay_platform