SAIL Plans To Begin Trial Production Of High Strength Rails For Metro And Freight Corridors By Month-End

Amit Mishra

Oct 18, 2023, 11:58 AM | Updated 11:58 AM IST

Typical Head Hardened Rails Facility
Typical Head Hardened Rails Facility

Steel Authority of India (SAIL), the country's biggest state-owned steel producer plans to start the trial production of head hardened (HH) rails, used in metro rail and freight corridor projects, by month-end.

The steel maker had earlier planed to start the trial production of HH rails in August. However the timeline had to be deferred due to a surge in demand for standard rails, particularly the 880-grade by the Indian Railways.

"We have the technology. We had planned for it (HH rail production) but then...they (Railways) requested us to defer the trials and now it is at the end of October," SAIL Chairman Amarendu Prakash told PTI in an interview.

HH rails are typically used in metro rail projects and high speed freight corridors which require maximum durability against wear and material fatigue caused by escalating train frequencies, speeds and axle loads.

Head hardening technology entails a special heat treatment process which requires precise temperature control to achieve nearly 50 per cent higher hardness as compared to a normal rail.

Head hardened rails can withstand increased wear from trains travelling faster, at greater frequencies and with heavier cargo.

SAIL has already set up a facility for the production of head hardened rails at the new Universal Rail Mill (URM) at its Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) in Chhattisgarh. The cold trials for these advanced rails have already been successfully completed.

Further, SAIL will be the second Indian company to manufacture HH rails.

In 2020, Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL) became first Indian company to supply head hardened rails to Metro rail projects in India. The company supplied 1,080-grade HH rails to Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) for completion of new phase of Kolkata Metro corridors.

JSPL produces HH rails at its plant located in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. The Rs 200 crore plant has been set up in collaboration with SMS Meer, Germany.

With SAIL joining the coveted league, it is hoped that the domestic supply will substitute imports. Until now, Metro Rail corporations and Dedicated Freight Corridors have traditionally sourced Head Hardened rails from Japan and Europe for the construction of high-speed tracks.

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