Hayange rail mill, France.

UK: To help assess whether ‘green’ track renewals could be a viable option, Network Rail has ordered a trial batch of rails manufactured by Saarstahl using an electric arc furnace.

Network Rail is seeking to understand the technical differences between EAF and non-EAF steel, particularly from a welding perspective. It also needs a viable logistics chain to its long-welded rail depot at Eastleigh.

The infrastructure manager said its market engagement had found that Saarstahl is the only company currently supplying EAF green steel made in Europe.

The supplier’s Ascoval plant near Valenciennes in France takes scrap metal, including used rail and waste from its rail mill in Hayange, and remelts it in the electric arc furnace to produce high-quality steel bar. This is then rolled into rail at Hayange.

Saarstahl says the entire manufacturing process generates 60% to 90% less CO2 than a conventional methodology using iron ore and coal as raw materials, thanks in part to the use of electricity generated by nuclear power.

Network Rail has directly awarded Saarstahl a one-off contract worth £826 098 excluding VAT for the delivery of a single train load of R260 (60E2 profile) rails. A direct award was used as the order is for research and development purposes; Network Rail would place any future orders for EAF and non-EAF rail through competitive tenders where possible.