Why RTA?

The Forest

North American forests continue to provide an abundance of superior hardwoods and select softwoods for the ties needed by North America’s superb rail transportation network. Proper management of forest resources is essential to provide the more than 20 million wood ties consumed annually for maintenance and extensions of the 200,000 miles of operated by more than 500 rail corporations, Amtrak, and dozens of regional and municipal transit systems in North America.

The RTA is working to maximize forest resources in numerous ways. The RTA represents an industry that can already produce ties that last longer than it takes to grow the trees to replace them. Even so, we’re involved in efforts to improve efficiency in our timber producing members’ operations, and we’re constantly seeking ways to improve the wood crosstie’s life in track.

The RTA also supports the careful, ongoing management of the millions of acres of renewable forest resources which now have substantially more annual growth than harvests. Reports on these issues are featured in Crossties magazine.

RTA Supports Continued Research and Testing

Wood crossties have been supporting North American railroads for more than 160 years. No other material has even come close to wood’s track record. The RTA is working to make that record even better -- under all track configurations, speeds, and loads.

Research, laboratory experimentation, and in-track testing are some of the activities the RTA sponsors to enhance the life and usefulness of the pre-engineered wood tie. These cooperative efforts involve railroads, universities, member companies, and the AAR at heavy duty haul FAST and RTT high speed passenger rail test facilities in Pueblo, Colorado.

These research projects incorporate the “track system” engineering principle and include innovations in hold-down hardware such as flexible fastenings for improved system performance. Some ongoing research projects include dowel-laminated and glued-laminated ties, studies of under utilized species in a variety of sizes and spacing, as well as various projects researching ways to extend tie life. Tests of environmentally safe products for use before installation in track and for application during maintenance work in later years are yielding results that promise longer service life for ties.

The Market

The treated wood crosstie marketplace is a diverse one made up of:

  • Foresters who manage timberlands
  • Loggers and sawmillers who produce ties & lumber
  • Tie buyers, wholesalers and jobbers
  • Wood preservers who purchase, inspect, process, store, and pressure treat lumber
  • Railroads who install and maintain ties
  • Companies who produce wood preservatives
  • Manufacturers of machinery, parts, fastening systems, tie plates, tools & hardware

And the list goes on.

Through active and responsible promotion of the wood crosstie, product improvement engineering, communication across the rail industry network, and a steady flow of useful information such as found in the bi-monthly magazine Crossties, the RTA is working to keep tie markets strong and healthy. RTA's mission includes working to enhance the potential for our members’ products and to make sure those products meet the market demands. The RTA is the network designed to expand tie markets, domestically and globally.

The key to successfully competing in today’s railroad industry is information. The more you know, the better off you are.

The Railway Tie Association is your best resource for accurate, timely information on treated wood crossties.

If you want to learn more about

Or virtually any other wood tie-related topic, the RTA can either tell you what you need to know or refer you to an appropriate source.

Connecting Members with Value