A new study has determined that if concrete is used in the production of deteriorating cross ties in railroads, they would emit six times less CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions than those made from wood.
Cross ties, also known as railway sleepers, are those rectangular objects that are used as a base for railroad tracks.
In the study, Robert Crawford from the University of Melbourne, points out that there have been long-standing concerns about environmental consequences of manufacturing railway sleepers because it involves harvesting large amounts of timber.
"Reinforced concrete sleepers are an alternative that offer greater strength, durability and long-term cost savings," he said.
Critics of using concrete sleepers have charged that their manufacture increases greenhouse gas emissions as it involves higher consumption of fuel when compared to production of wood sleepers.
Crawford studied the greenhouse gas emissions of wooden and reinforced concrete sleepers based on one-kilometer (0.62 miles) length of track over a 100-year life cycle.
He found that emissions from reinforced concrete sleepers can be from two to six times lower than those from timber.
"The results suggest strongly that reinforced concrete sleepers result in lower life cycle greenhouse emissions than timber sleepers," according to the researchers.