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.

RTA works to maximize forest resources and represents an industry that can already produce ties that last longer than it takes to grow the trees to replace them. We’re continually involved in efforts to improve efficiency in our timber producing members’ operations, and constantly seek ways to improve the wood crosstie’s life in track.

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 works 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 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 like flexible fastenings for improved system performance. 

The Market

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

  • Foresters 
  • Loggers and sawmillers 
  • Tie buyers and wholesalers 
  • Wood preservers 
  • Railroads 
  • Preservative producers
  • Manufacturers of machinery, parts, fastening systems, tie plates, tools & hardware
  • Recyclers
  • Construction companies 


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, RTA works 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 key to successfully competing in today’s railroad industry is information. The Railway Tie Association is your best resource for accurate, timely information on treated wood crossties.

RTA's Publication Library