Advantages and Benefits of NARSTCO Steel Track and Turnout Tie Sets

The estimated life of a steel tie is presently set at 50 years. Steel ties have no known failure mode at present except for major derailment destruction of the tie. Steel ties can then be recycled as scrap steel, and in some instances repaired back to normal service with minor welding. Wood ties on the other hand, have an average expected service life of 12-15 years, depending upon where the ties are installed (geographical location & annual rainfall), and need to be environmentally disposed of at the end of their service life. It would be normal to expect at least three wood tie change outs ($180-200 total material cost) during the expected 50 year life of a steel tie that now costs $60. Scrap wood ties now have to be disposed of in approved landfills or burned, depending up each state's requirements, at a cost of about $8-$10 per tie for disposal.

Life cycle cost comparison of steel ties to wood ties over a 50 years period would then be approximately $60 for a steel tie now, less an estimated $50+ scrap value ($570/ton current value of scrap steel) at the end of it's service life. This same 50 year comparison for wood ties would cost about $200 for 3 new wood ties changeouts (estimated life of 15 years/tie) and 3 disposals estimated to cost an additional $25-30, or about $230-$250 per tie cost.


   • Simple and efficient to assemble and install
   • Turnout assembly savings 3 to 1 versus wood
   • Reduces the ballast require by as much as 40% compared to wood ties
   • Extends life of other components such as frogs, points, etc.
   • Extends life of adjacent wood ties when interspersed


   • 100% recyclable
   • No deterioration in fueling facilities
   • Not prone to insect or bacterial attack
   • Proven derailment survivability and can be repaired in track
   • No plate cutting or spike kill


   • Maintains track gauge and cant angle and are often used instead of gauge rods
   • Excellent track stability and lateral load resistance with a track modulus similar to hardwood ties
   • Ideal for tunnels and ballast deck bridges due to low profile & reduced dead load
   • Can be encased in concrete or covered in asphalt
   • Easy to insulate for track circuitry

Ballast Comparison Steel vs. Wood