Recycling of ballast and concrete sleepers
For maintenance of the ballast bed, we have set up a materials cycle for ballast, concrete sleepers no. 73 and tracks. Every year, between 3 and 4 milliontons of old material are removed from the network and almost the same amount is reintegrated. In 2020, about 1.5 million tons of ballast were mechanically removed on-site by track-bound ballast cleaning machines or mobile processing plants, of which about 0.7 million tons were processed and immediately reused. This significantly reduces the amount needed for new ballast, in addition to reducing the associated transport costs and greenhouse gas emissions. For the most part, the rest of the material is processed into recycled ballast no. 51 in an external, certified disposal facility for us to reuse, or it is prepared as gravel or crushed sand for road building. About 3.2 million tons of ballast were used in 2020, about 0.5 million tons (16 %) of which were recycled ballast.