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British steel keeps Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan on track

28 January 2016

As passenger numbers grow and the number of trains running on Britain’s railway continues to increase each year, so too does the need for Network Rail to replace worn out track – and it’s British steel which does the job.


A five-year contract with Scunthorpe-based Tata Steel UK ensures that 96 per cent – or 120,000 tonnes – of the steel rail procured by Network Rail is made in Britain.

Smaller contracts are in place with European steel manufacturers Arcelor Mittal, in Spain, and Austria’s Voestalpine, for around 2,500 tonnes of steel per year each – supplying short rail for switches and crossings among other uses.

British steel is absolutely central to our Railway Upgrade Plan.

It’s crucial that we have a trusted and secure supply chain to help us deliver our investment programme safely and efficiently, and Tata Steel is one of the most important links in that chain.

We look forward to continuing to work with them to build a bigger, better railway for Britain.

Nick Elliott, managing director of the National Supply Chain at Network Rail

Since 2005, Tata Steel UK has supplied the majority of Network Rail’s new rail from its Scunthorpe plant, where it also carries out 50 per cent of Network Rail’s welding requirements, turning the 108m long rail into 216m rails used by the high output track renewal fleet.

The other 50 per cent takes place at Network Rail’s dedicated facility in Eastleigh near Southampton, with the 108m steel rail being transported there from Scunthorpe by rail delivery train from Network Rail National Supply Chain’s specialist rail delivery fleet.

There are many benefits to using specialist welding facilities rather than welding on site, including better-quality welds and the ease with which long welded rail can be laid, making track renewals work more efficient, quicker, safer and more accurate.

Tata Steel UK produces a whole range of steel products for us – from premium-grade steel to coated rail to protect against rail foot corrosion caused by exposure to moisture and salt in coastal environments. It also manufactures the steel for our steel sleeper supplies.

We’ve worked collaboratively on creating new products to suit our requirements.

We also have a really good sustainable supply chain and recycle all rail, whether by reusing it internally for lower category track or selling it – either to railway heritage or private sidings organisations, or for scrap.

Katrina Law, director of materials and logistics for Network Rail’s National Supply Chain


Above: Testing rail at Tata Steel UK

The close working relationship we have with Network Rail is vital. We are able to develop, manufacture and deliver the products needed to keep Britain’s passengers and freight on track.

Over time we have sought to strengthen our customer focus by understanding exactly what Network Rail needs and then developing those products right here with British-made steel securing British jobs.

Richard Bell, Tata Steel’s sector head of rail


Above: Rails at Tata Steel UK's plant