Su Forbes un’articolo dedicato alla startup Greenrail
There’s a lot of talk about sustainable mobility nowadays, often in relation to a more environmentally friendly use of cars, or to its reduction in favor of other means of transportation. Trains, for instance. As conventional wisdom has it, travelling by train is a "green" option. Not everyone agrees: some say that, under certain conditions, a car ride could actually be more sustainable in comparison.But what if trains, aside from transporting passengers, could also boost the recycling and disposal of scrap tires, and produce electricity while they’re moving? That would settle the controversy, and legitimize the train as the ultimate eco-friendly option. Well, that’s exactly what will happen if a startup called Greenrail, founded by three young Italian entrepreneurs, has its way.What Greenrail has developed - and patented - is a new kind of sleeper (the track substructure to which the rails are attached, also called "tie"), which combines the advantages of the current solutions, with a more respectful attitude towards the environment and lower maintenance costs."Today, prestressed concrete, is the most commonly used material for ties, having gradually replaced wood," Greenrail’s CEO Giovanni De Lisi tells me."In Europe alone, concrete sleepers make for 85% of all the 380.000.000 installed ties; their solid structure and weight guarantees a better stability of the line, which in turn allows train operators to build railway lines suitable for the transit of larger loads at greater speed," he says.These advantages, however, come at a cost. The rigid nature of concrete and the weight of sleepers, in combination with the weight and speed of trains, causes the pulverization and crashing of the ballast (the gravel or broken stone laid in the railroad bed), changing the alignment of the line.Continuous monitoring of the lines,and frequent maintenance are therefore needed, with all that this implies in terms of costs and effort: to give you and idea of the scale of the problem, every year 40 million of sleepers are replaced in Europe, 70 million worldwide.On the market there also plastic and composite ties - which would solve these kind of problems, as they are more flexible and balanced - but they are too light to ensure the stability of the track when the trains pass at high speed.