Production got underway Tuesday in Clinton on the first load of concrete railroad ties made by a company based in Germany called Rail One. Chief executive officer, Jochen Riepl, says Rail One has been trying for a long time to break into the U.S. market. And once it signed a contract with the Union Pacific Railroad, it began looking for suitable sites.
Clinton is on the U-P main line, for easy delivery, but just as important is the close availability of the sand and gravel needed for the concrete. He says they are working out the proper mixture as he says they want to figure out how the materials react to get the strength of concrete needed.
Riepl says concrete rail ties last much longer than wood. “You an easily find concrete ties installed all over Europe with a lifetime of more than 30 years,” Riepl says. He says he recently saw a tie in the German rail network stamped with the date 1958 — which is more than 50 years. Rail One expects to produce 600,000 concrete ties per year in Clinton.
They’ll start with a workforce of about 30 and once at full capacity, the new plant will employ 65. Rail One employs more than 700 people in eight countries, including Romania, Spain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.