Tata Steel will today officially open its upgraded rail production facility in north-east France after a €35 million investment.
The investment in a range of new manufacturing equipment and expansion of the plant in Hayange, in the Lorraine region, means it can now produce longer 108-metre rails for the high-speed networks in France as well as other European railways. Previously, the plant could produce rails upto 80 metres long.
Henrik Adam, Tata Steel´s Chief Commercial Officer, said: The project to upgrade the Hayange rail mill demonstrates Tata Steel´s commitment to being the European leader in the rail sector. Our two state-of-the-art rail production facilities in the UK and France now have world-class manufacturing capability and we will continue to support our customers by offering innovative products and services in growth markets.
The investment – the largest and most significant at Hayange for more than a decade – has boosted production capacity from 300,000 to 340,000 tonnes per year and has improved yield and quality at the facility. The investment has also secured employment at the plant.
Gérard Glas, Tata Steel´s Rail Sector Lead, said: There has been a growth in demand in recent years for new high-speed rail lines in Europe. Our customers who are building these lines want to reduce their maintenance costs and give passengers a smoother ride. Using 108-metre long rails helps them to achieve this.
Earlier this month, Tata Steel announced it had secured a major order to supply railway lines for a new high-speed track between the French cities of Tours and Bordeaux. The order from construction consortium COSEA is for 84,000 tonnes of high quality rail for the 302km long (188 miles) South-Europe-Atlantique line. Gérard Glas said the contract was »an endorsement of our company strategy to invest in premium steel products.
In December 2009, French railway operator SNCF signed a €350 million contract with Tata Steel to buy rail for up to six years.
Paul Hodgson, manager of the Hayange plant, paid tribute to the team working on the expansion project. He said: Everyone, from design and mechanical engineers to electricians and demolition experts, worked as one team on this project.
We set ourselves the goal of completing this upgrade in 18 months which we have achieved. In fact, the project was not only on time, it was also on budget. All this took place without disrupting our ongoing manufacturing operations, and we have continued to supply high-quality rail to our existing customers throughout the upgrade.