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Partnering with global leader Sekisui Chemical

Delkor Rail is the exclusive Australian partner of Japan’s Sekisui Chemical for the supply of Sekisui FFU railway sleepers for the Australian market. Sekisui Chemical pioneered the development and introduction of the product more than 40 years ago in partnership with Japanese National Railways.

What is FFU?

First developed by Japan’s Sekisui Chemical in the late-1970s,
fibre-reinforced foamed urethane, or FFU, is a technologically advanced synthetic material manufactured using a pultrusion-extrusion technique. It is created by soaking continuous glass-fibre strands in polyurethane.

A composite of the resulting material is then obtained by curing it at a raised temperature. The result is a non-porous synthetic wood-type material that can be cut to any length up to 12 metres. With FFU being a closed cell structure, it does not absorb water and is also chemically resistant to oils, lubricants, and pollutants. Essentially, FFU has the same properties as wood but does not deteriorate over time.

A new, innovative material that has a timber-like appearance, the FFU railway sleeper has the durability of plastic and the machinability of timber. Increasingly used in railway applications as a material that replaces natural timber, FFU railway sleepers have the required strength and characteristics required for structural members and railway bridge transom and sleepers.

The history of FFU railway sleepers

Developed in Japan and first trialled on the Japanese National Railways (JNR) network in 1980, FFU railway sleepers were designed to replace traditional timber sleepers. Timber sleepers, the popular choice at the time, had to be replaced regularly due to weathering. JNR tasked Sekisui Chemical with developing a sleeper made from synthetic material that would be long-lasting, durable, and require minimal maintenance.

They have been the sleepers of choice in the global rail industry for more than 40 years. Sekisui Chemical notes that since their introduction in 1980, as of 2015 over 2,300,000 synthetic wood sleepers had been fitted sustainably on 1,400 kilometres of railway track.

Why are FFU railway sleepers so popular?

Due to their lightweight nature, strength, and durability, FFU railway sleepers are now commonly used in railways instead of natural timber. In doing so, they promote sustainability and enable the rail industry to rely less and less on natural resources, protecting the natural environment for future generations.

FFU railway sleepers are commonly used to support highly stressed track sections, such as switches, turnouts & crossings and transoms on bridges. These sections of railway networks must constantly provide optimum operation, so ensuring their integrity is maintained is essential.

The unique properties of FFU make it a perfect material for railway sleepers. Those properties include:

  • Service life: More than 50 years.
  • Density: The same as wood (740kg/m3).
  • Machinability: The same as Timber.
  • Electrical conductivity: Very low.
  • Chemical resistance: Very high.
  • Lifecycle costs: Minimal.
  • Maintenance costs: significantly reduced.
  • Custom manufacture: to millimetre precision.
  • Sustainability: 100% recyclable.

Delkor Rail is a representative is a representative of Sekisui FFU Sleepers in Australia.

Contact us for further information about FFU railway sleepers.