FRA and AAR Report: Design and Testing of EPC Ties

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Railroad Administration and the Association of American Railroads collaborated to investigate the design and testing of engineered-polymer (EPC) ties.

42-page report, below, details the findings for the design and testing of engineered-polymer composite (EPC) ties. Offered as an alternative to solid-sawn timber ties, “these ties have a history of inconsistent performance and existing AREMA laboratory qualification testing have not proven effective in identifying the chief failure modes before in-track installation.” 

After field testing at the Transportation Technology Center, there are two key failure modes: center cracking and spike-hole cracking. In addition, these observations “showed the ambient temperature may significantly affect the loading environment and track gage of EPC ties at any given time of the day.”

The study concludes with findings and recommendations that include the development of a laboratory fatigue test to address center cracking and a modified AREMA Test 6 to address spike-hole cracking. The report can be read in its entirety below.

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