What Are The Types And Benefits Of Railway Sleepers?

Well, railway sleepers are the components on which the rails are arranged with the proper gauge. These railway sleepers rest on ballast and it is often known as ties in most of the regions. The load that comes from rails when the train begins to pass is taken by these sleepers and then it is distributed to the ballast. 

Some of the Functions of Railway Sleepers:

The most important and basic function of Railway sleeper Brackets are:

1: It helps in holding the rails strongly and also maintains a uniform gauge.

2: It mainly transfers the load coming from rails to the ballast or ground.

3: It helps in reducing the vibration coming from the rails.

4: It is known for providing longitudinal and lateral stability.

The Railway Sleepers Are Broadly Classified Into 5 Main Categories And They Are:

Based on its materials used, railway sleepers are broadly classified into the following types:

1: Wooden Sleepers.

2: Concrete sleepers.

3: Steel sleepers.

4: Cast iron sleepers and 

5: Composite Sleepers. 

Wooden Sleepers: 

Wooden Sleepers are generally made of wood and are used since in old days. However, these are still widely used in some western countries. Both hardwood and softwood can be used to make wooden sleepers. 

What Benefits Do You Get From Wooden Railway Sleepers?

1: Wooden sleepers are much cheaper in comparison to other sleepers.

2: These are also easy to manufacture.

3: Wooden Sleepers are light in weight and can be easily transported and handled while installing it.

4: These are good insulators therefore the rails get protected well.

5: Any type of gauge can be easily maintained with the help of these wooden sleepers.

6: These sleepers are suitable for all types of the rail section.

7: It is also suitable for tracks in coastal regions. 

Disadvantage of Wood Rail Sleepers:

1: These sleepers contain a short life-span.

2: It is difficult to maintain gauge.

3: It has a high-maintenance cost.

4: It contains a high probability of theft.

5: Negligible scrap value. 

6: Due to its lightweight it makes it unsuitable for the fast track.

Concrete Sleepers:

Concrete sleepers are manufactured with concrete materials and with the help of internal reinforcement. It is also used in many countries and due to its high stability and small maintenance; these become more suitable for high-speed rails. 

Today, most of the concrete sleepers are made from pre-stressed concrete in which the entire tension is induced into the sleeper before casting. Thus, this sleeper withstands well against all the external pressure. 

Benefits of Concrete Sleepers:

1: Concrete sleepers are much heavier in comparison with all other sleepers.

2: It provides good stability to rails.

3: They have a long life span and it is also economically preferable.

4: It contains good fire resistance.

5: Corrosion usually doesn’t attack Concrete Sleepers.

6: These sleepers are suitable for various types of soil and moisture conditions.

7: Its bucking strength is more.

8: Concrete sleeper is a good insulator and these types of sleepers are more suitable for circuited tracks.

9: It holds the track and strongly maintains the gauge. 

Disadvantages of Concrete Railway Sleepers:

1: It is heavy to handle.

2: Its track generally needs a mechanical method.

3: You can see that the damage is heavy at the time of the derailment.

4: It doesn’t hold any scrap value.

Steel Sleepers:

This type of sleeper is more often used and is stronger than wood and also economical than concrete. It contains a good life span and is also modeled in trough shape and placed on railway ballast. 

Some Benefits of Using Steel Sleepers: 

1: Steel sleepers are lighter in weight and can be easily transported and place install.

2: These sleepers are recyclable and thus it possesses a good scrap value.

3: Its life span is near about 30 years.

4: These are good resistant against fire and creep.

5: It can’t get attack by vermin.

6: Steel sleepers are well-suited for tracks of high-speeds and larger loads.

7: It helps in holding the rail strongly and thus it is easy to connect the rail to the sleeper.

Disadvantage of Steel sleepers:

1: It is corrosion-prone.

2: These sleepers are unsuitable for tracking circuiting areas.

3: It develops cracks at rail seats.

4: Gauge change is generally not possible.

5: It contains Lightweight and not suitable for the fast track. 

Cast Iron sleepers:

Cast iron sleepers are widely used in Railways. These sleepers are available in 2 types, pot type sleepers, and plate type sleepers. The pot type sleepers are mainly not suitable for curves. 

It’s Benefits:

1: Cast iron sleepers can be used for a long duration of time.

2: Its manufacturing is also very easy and it can be done locally so no need for longer transportation.

3: Vermin attack is also possible in cast iron sleepers.

4: These sleepers provide a strong seat to the rail.

5: The damaged cast iron sleepers can get easily remolded into new sleepers. Thus, its scrap value is good.

6: The creep of rail can also be provided by these cast iron sleepers. 

Composite Sleepers:

Composite sleepers are a modern type of railway sleepers and these are made from waste plastic and rubber. Therefore, it is also known as plastic sleepers. These sleepers have the combined properties of all other sleepers too. 

Look for its benefits:

1: Composite sleepers are serviceable and remain for a longer duration.

2: These sleepers are eco-friendly sleepers.

3: Composite sleepers are light in weight but it possesses great strength.

4: Its scrap value is good due to its recyclable property. 

5: These can be easily re-sized just like wooden sleepers.

6: It can be used for any type of rail section.

7: Vibration received from the rails gets reduced by these composite sleepers.


On the railroad construction either it is a wood sleeper, steel railway sleeper, concrete sleeper, or any other sleeper these are the most common types of railway sleepers. For the past few years, these sleepers are most widely used in railroads and especially in heavy rail and bridge rail. 

Its ongoing development and new technical things made rails much better than before. The rail sleepers are made of various materials like steel, concrete, and rubber. All these features made the railways captivating.