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Crosstie check in 2012

National Salvage unloading new wood crossties for installation.

Wood, concrete, plastic or otherwise, the crosstie market is steady, strong and growing. by Jennifer Nunez, assistant editor


here are many options in the crosstie market. Whether you are looking for a long-known staple such as timber, or a fairly new material found in composites, the technology and innovation is constantly evolving and suppliers are offering railraods improved products in 2012.

RTA “The market’s direction is very encouraging,” stated Jim Gauntt, executive director of the Railway Tie Association. According to Gauntt, production’s annual rate of growth is 17.7 percent and purchases are up by almost 19 percent in 2012. During the past 12 months, tie inventories have expanded by 3.3 percent. Yet, due to the increased demand for new wood ties, the inventoryto-sales ratio fell from 0.72 in June to 0.69 in July. “This means we could still see strong green tie procurement efforts being made going into 2013 to help keep pace with demand,” he explained. Five to 10 years ago, railroads only had two to three wood preservative choices on how to treat wood ties, he says. Now, with the addition of enhanced treating methodologies using boron-based products to dual treat ties in multiple ways and the AWPA approval of Copper Naphthenate and ACZA for wood ties, railroads have close to 20 possible choices of how to apply wood preservatives to 18 Railway Track & Structures

October 2012

wood ties. “This increase in diversity of options means that railroads and wood treaters will have to work together closely to monitor quality control and long-term performance parameters. RTA is in discussions with railroads on how to do this efficiently and effectively,” noted Gauntt. Freight traffic remaining strong is impor tant, but the commitment and philosophy of railroads to maintain in optimal ways drives a lot of this, says Gauntt. In other words, railroads have decided to continue to invest capital in strong maintenance programs because it pays such high dividends in the long run. “Increased opportunities, such as the railroads building infrastructure to serve the shale-based oil industry’s growth and continuing to ramp up maintenance investment, are the other interesting factors pulling the market along,” he said. There are plans on the books for two new treating plants or more to be built in the next couple of years, which Gauntt says is surprising, considering the industry has sufficient capacity to meet current demand. One will come online in 2012 and more should follow. “This means that our industr y believes long-term solid growth in tie demand will ensue,” he explains. “We have also seen a new creosote supplier enter the market. It is an exciting

RT&S 1012  

The October issue of RT&S features the annual crosstie report, along with other stories on track inspection and bridge maintenance. Addition...

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