In 2002, Trojan Services Limited began researching the use of recycled polymers for railway cable ducting as an alternative to traditionally used concrete. At the time approximately 2 million tonnes of plastic waste was produced in the UK, with only 400,000 tonnes being recycled, the bulk of which was packaging materials. However, during the past 10 years, the raw material stream has been increased to include end-of-life products as well as domestic and industrial waste.

By 2010, of the five million tonnes of plastics used per year, 2.4 million tonnes was packaging according to the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP). 1.7 million tonnes came from households and the rest from commercial and industrial companies. Items such as plastic bottles, pots, tubs, trays, films and plastic bags were the most common types of household plastic waste while commercial and industrial packaging waste streams were largely made up of stretch-wrap films, which are often used to cover goods during shipping, and returnable transit packaging such as pallets, crates and drums.

Made from waste

From these waste raw materials, Trojan indentified at an early stage of product development that the most suitable polymer for rail applications was polypropylene due to its high strength and impact resistance. Using this material as a base, a formulation was developed that fully complied with Network Rail’s specification for troughing products.

The result was a range of troughs which were approximately five times lighter than concrete. They also met the following criteria on a Network Rail ‘wish list’:

» Quality – All products and material are produced to ISO 9001;

» Sustainability – Higher life expectancy = lower life cycle costs;

» Reliability – No breakages during transport and installation;

» Traceability – All products can be traced to raw material batch;

» Deliverability – Automated processes guarantees quality delivered products;

» Health and safety – manual handling, no sharp edges, can be worked using hand tools, COSSH studies show no harmful particulates when cutting;

» Environmental – fewer transport movements with 1000 complete units per truck, no waste as all offcuts can be recycled ensuring no expensive landfill costs, lower carbon footprint.

Trojan’s first cable trough product – TroTrof® – was given Network Rail Product Acceptance in 2008 after extensive independent testing and test site installations which were

monitored monthly to ensure suitability.
In acknowledgement of its work, Trojan Services Ltd was awarded the Network Rail Environmental Award in 2008.

Since then, Trojan has supplied over 300,000 TroTrof units to various Network Rail projects and maintenance teams, as well as to London Underground, Nexus Tram, Manchester Metro and Nottingham Tram.

Further development

After receiving feedback from Network Rail, Trojan enhanced the design of both the TroTrof lids and troughs to allow interaction of concrete lids onto TroTrof bases. More importantly, the lid of the TroTrof was redesigned to allow for a 100° centigrade temperature range (-25°c to +80°c) overcoming any problems from the expansion and contraction of the lids. At the same time, Trojan designed the lid to eliminate the need for manual gapping.

They are now automatically gapped when the lid is fitted to the trough.

In 2009, in answer to a request by Network Rail’s route maintenance director for Scotland, Trojan designed and developed a combined walkway and cable trough route – TroTred® – to overcome the problem associated with over capacity trough routes and the need for a safe cess walkway.

Having completed the necessary independent and site testing, Trojan supplied 22,000 TroTred units to the Airdrie – Bathgate route in 2009/10. Following this success, the product was specified by Network Rail for the Paisley Corridor Improvement Project. Both of these installations proved the efficacy of the product, and as a result the product has been widely used and specified Thameslink, Crossrail and various re-signalling projects. In recognition of its efforts, Trojan was awarded the Network Rail Partnership Award for Innovation in 2010.

In use it was found that, when walking on TroTred in certain weather conditions, the static build-up created by the high-visability clothing did not dissipate through the TroTred to earth. As a result, Trojan modified the raw material compound to ensure that a route to earth was provided. Following this final tweaking of the product, full Network Rail Product Acceptance for TroTred was obtained in October 2011.

More new products

Trojan Services Limited continues to design innovative products using polymer which are either made from recyclate or can be recycled at the end of life. The latest one is TroBord, a ballast board made from HDPE which is ten times lighter than the equivalent concrete product, ensuring that Trojan’s products continue to answer the demands for HSEA and CDM rules compliance.

Since starting to supply recycled polymer products, Trojan has used approximately 8,000 tonnes of waste material that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. In addition, transport movements have been reduced from an estimated 2,000 down to 560 trips. Not only has this reduced the cost of transportation, but has contributed to lower carbon emissions.

Trojan estimates that with current and future contracts, its usage of recyclate for the rail industry over the next three years will average 3,000 tonnes per year. This new market for recyclate has contributed to a UK reprocessing company making the decision to invest £1.2 million in doubling its capacity to 45,000 tonnes per year.

Another £1million has been invested in four new injection moulding machines to service the business, ensuring continuance of supply as volumes increase. Trojan Services Ltd continues to invest in its UK-based business utilising the latest CAD design capabilities, raw material technology and processing techniques to ensure that it offers the UK rail industry the maximum benefits from a UK supply base.