Ballastless Track – Minimizing the Climate Impact
Rapport, 2021

Railway transportation is becoming increasingly important for transport of passengers and goods in Sweden, Europe and many parts of the world. Ballastless (slab) railway systems are increasingly in use; however, their construction is known to cause a substantial climate impact.

The objective of this study was to investigate possible methods to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of slab tracks and to provide required knowledge to identify the methods with high potential for further development. The approach adopted in this study consists of two steps. First, a comprehensive literature study was carried out, including a survey of existing methods for reducing GHG emissions for slab tracks, and of those which require further research. These methods are presented and assessed with respect to criteria related to potential benefit, possibility to use in large volumes, quality assurance and cost.

In the second step, recommendations are made on which of the different methods of reducing GHG emissions are suitable to further develop in future projects. Two uncertainties identified for all methods are related to quantification of potential benefits and the associated costs. Nonetheless, structural optimization of slab tracks is found to have potential to reduce the climate impact quite substantially, with the smallest risks associated. The most promising methods for structural optimization includes: geometry optimization to focus on the use of material where it is structurally most effective; stiffness optimization to reduce the energy consumption of trains; prestressing of concrete to minimize crack width; and employing steel fiber reinforced concrete to control cracks and reduce the use of traditional reinforcement. Three solutions combining these methods in different ways are suggested for future studies. Furthermore, methods related to the use of alternative binders & materials are also recommended to reduce the climate impact; however, it is noted that such methods in general exhibit larger uncertainties than structural optimization. Of the alternatives focusing on alternative binders & materials, the following were evaluated to be most promising: textile reinforcement, other cement types (e.g. CSA, BCSA & BYF cements) as well as optimized mix design of concrete. It is to be noted that the three suggested solutions based on structural optimization can also benefit from the use of alternative binders & materials. To sum up, combination of several methods is required to minimize the environmental impact, as in the suggested solutions. The needs for future investigation for each solution are also identified in the report.

The project contributes to the overall goal of increasing consideration for the environment and climate by providing knowledge and road map on how GHG emissions can be reduced for slab tracks.


GHG emission


climate impact

Ballastless (slab) tracks


Kamyab Zandi

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Konstruktionsteknik

Karin Lundgren

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Konstruktionsteknik

Ingemar Löfgren

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Konstruktionsteknik

Minska klimatpåverkan av betong i ballastfritt spår

Trafikverket (TRV201-/101806), 2020-01-01 -- 2021-06-30.


Hållbar utveckling


Teknisk mekanik


Annan samhällsbyggnadsteknik


Building Futures (2010-2018)

Rapport ACE / Institutionen för arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers tekniska högskola: ACE-2021-02



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