SEKISUI, Japan, opened its first European production site for synthetic sleepers made of fibre-reinforced foam urethane (FFU) at Roermond in the Netherlands on October 5.

FFU sleepers offer the same advantages as those made from wood, but have a much longer life and are lighter than other materials. Development began in 1974 and FFU sleepers have now demonstrated a working life of over 40 years.

Sekisui FFU sleepers were first installed in Europe in 2004 on the Vienna metro operated by Wiener Linien, and since then the company has been steadily expanding its presence in the European railway market. Until now Sekisui has only undertaken production in Japan, and its new plant at Roermond is intended to better serve European customers and reduce delivery times.

The new facility can produce up to is 100,000 sleepers a year, with potential to grow further, and has almost doubled Sekisui’s total production capacity. Construction started in mid-2020 and was completed earlier this year at a cost of €50m.

Photo Credit: Quintus Vosman

The 4400m2 plant is located next to a nature park which means that it is being operated to the highest environmental standards. The new sleeper factory is entirely powered by electricity and can operate 24 hours a day.

“Europe has become an important market and demand is expected to increase, including from major railway companies in Germany and Britain,” says Mr Koji Yamaguchi, managing director of the German subsidiary of Sekisui Chemicals.

“Therefore we are very pleased to open the new production plant at Roermond in the heart of Europe.”

“We are very proud to have opened such an innovative and future-oriented production facility here in Roermond,” says Mr Paul Koopman, managing director of the new factory.

“The new plant will enable us to deliver high-quality FFU railway sleepers to customers in Europe faster than even before.”