How we work

All material sold through Network Rail comes direct from the UK’s railways.  Most infrastructure materials are returned to our recycling depots and sorted there to pick out any assets that are suitable for reuse within Network Rail’s infrastructure.

What remains is tendered out to the external market. It’s important to us to ensure there is a regular flow of materials leaving our recycling depots so that it can operate safely and for this reason we usually sell all our material to organisations capable of buying and collecting in bulk. For sleepers we wouldn’t typically sell in quantities less than 350 (timber) and 1000 (concrete). For individual scrap metal sales, this would usually be a minimum of 25 tonnes at a time but more often by the hundred up to 1000 tonnes.

When material becomes available at one of our depots, we issue a tender to a list of organisations who are either existing customers or who have previously expressed an interest in purchasing from us. Once the tender has closed, the winning bidder is notified. The material is paid for in full before it can be released.

We also make available for sale a vast array of assets that do not make up the track. These are also made available through the tender process.

About Railway Recycling

Railway Recycling sells recycled materials recovered directly from the UK’s railways.

From concrete and wooden sleepers, aggregates and other wood materials, we offer competitively priced recycled materials from our Network Rail depots across the country.

As part of the renewal and maintenance of the rail network, Network Rail generates approximately 1.2m tonnes of aggregate, 110,000 tonnes of steel and 850,000 sleepers on an annual basis.

To dispose of these materials can be expensive and is not sustainable. These concrete, steel and wooden sleepers, aggregates and rail can be reused or recycled for various purposes – whilst the primary objective is to get material back into the Network Rail infrastructure, they can be used for anything from garden design, building projects, heritage railways, cattle track and hard standings in farming and agriculture, and much more.

The revenue generated from the sale of redundant assets such as steel, concrete and wooden sleepers, panels and aggregates is directly invested by Network Rail back into the UK’s railways – a sustainable way of committing to the future of our railway infrastructure

Network Rail is funded by the tax payer and as such must comply with the rules on how to manage public money.  We have to be fair, transparent and reap the best value for our assets as we can.  In order to comply with this requirement, where possible, we tender out our assets to all those who have requested to be on the tender list.  We may give feedback on your bids without compromising the commercial sensitivity of other parties’ bids and we will consider the safety, legal, financial, and reputational implications of awarding a lot to the winning bidder.

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