Tata Steel is to invest more than €12m (£10m) in new technology so it can produce longer wear-resistant rails at its French steel mill.
The new technology will enable Tata Steel to heat-treat rails of up to 108m in length at its Hayange facility in the Lorraine region of north-east France. Heat-treated rail can last up to three times longer than standard rail when used in high-wear conditions such as heavy traffic, high axle loads or tight curves.
According to the company, the new plant — expected to be completed by autumn 2013 — will double the annual output of heat-treated rail from 55,000 tonnes to 120,000 tonnes.
Tata Steel’s heat-treated rail is reportedly produced using a patented process that ensures it has exceptional wear resistance.
The rail moves through an induction furnace that uses an electromagnetic field to heat the steel to 950ºC. The rail is then rapidly cooled using compressed air. The resulting low residual stresses provide further protection against risk of rail failure compared with other in-line heat-treatment processes.