Who makes Britain's rails?

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Domeyhead

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It's two questions really.
1) Where is the steel made that is used to make Network Rail's rail products?
2) Where are the rails made?
I know that (2) used to be Corus Workington until closure then I believe it went to Scunthorpe.
It would be easy for the Government instruct its Agencies to specify UK manufacture in its contracts - but it never does.
 
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najaB

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I know that (2) used to be Corus Workington until closure then I believe it went to Scunthorpe.
I believe that to still be the case.
It would be easy for the Government instruct its Agencies to specify UK manufacture in its contracts - but it never does.
If only it wasn't for those pesky free trade agreements we've signed that allow UK manufacturers to enter foreign markets free of tariffs and quotas.
 

WatcherZero

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There was an amusing Mirror article where they were outraged that 4% of steel came from abroad.
 

DarloRich

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It's two questions really.
1) Where is the steel made that is used to make Network Rail's rail products?
2) Where are the rails made?
I know that (2) used to be Corus Workington until closure then I believe it went to Scunthorpe.
It would be easy for the Government instruct its Agencies to specify UK manufacture in its contracts - but it never does.

Much as I like a good conspiracy we can lock away the conspiracy theories now. 96% of the rail used in this country comes from................... Scunthorpe.

So about 8000 of the 120000 tons of rail used annually comes from outside the UK and most of that is specialist/low volume numbers/one off items that no one in the UK can produce in an economical fashion.

According to the Mirror article that means NR spends £67m on steel in the UK and £5.1m abroad every year. The article and the comments from the LIb Dem leader show a complete lack of knowledge n the subject which could have easily been presented a positive for UK steel with a little research!

It also, sadly, isn't easy for the government to make any such instruction regarding location of manufacture as that would breach competition law. You have to be more creative. Other governments do it and then get found guilty at court 4 years later and pay up. We tend not to.
 

Domeyhead

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Much as I like a good conspiracy we can lock away the conspiracy theories now. 96% of the rail used in this country comes from................... Scunthorpe.

So about 8000 of the 120000 tons of rail used annually comes from outside the UK and most of that is specialist/low volume numbers/one off items that no one in the UK can produce in an economical fashion.

According to the Mirror article that means NR spends £67m on steel in the UK and £5.1m abroad every year. The article and the comments from the LIb Dem leader show a complete lack of knowledge n the subject which could have easily been presented a positive for UK steel with a little research!

It also, sadly, isn't easy for the government to make any such instruction regarding location of manufacture as that would breach competition law. You have to be more creative. Other governments do it and then get found guilty at court 4 years later and pay up. We tend not to.

Thanks for the info Darlo. Are you though jumping to the conclusion that Scunthorpe will be using steel originating from UK steel production rather than imported steel slab from "somewhere else?" which was the essence of my first question? Rolling mills do not carry the carbon tax burden of blast furnaces.
Interestingly Italy protected its steel industry against foreign dumping and yes it was indeed fined by the EU. It has yet to pay the fine.
 

najaB

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Are you though jumping to the conclusion that Scunthorpe will be using steel originating from UK steel production rather than imported steel slab from "somewhere else?" which was the essence of my first question? Rolling mills do not carry the carbon tax burden of blast furnaces.
Scunthorpe has three four blast furnaces so I'd be surprised if the rail is made from imported slab steel.
 
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DarloRich

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Thanks for the info Darlo. Are you though jumping to the conclusion that Scunthorpe will be using steel originating from UK steel production rather than imported steel slab from "somewhere else?" which was the essence of my first question? Rolling mills do not carry the carbon tax burden of blast furnaces.
Interestingly Italy protected its steel industry against foreign dumping and yes it was indeed fined by the EU. It has yet to pay the fine.

I would be very surprised if slab is imported and turned into rails. One of the reasons for building the rail mill there was co-location with the rest of the steel making facility and a good sized port near by for the incoming ore.
 

furnessvale

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I would be very surprised if slab is imported and turned into rails. One of the reasons for building the rail mill there was co-location with the rest of the steel making facility and a good sized port near by for the incoming ore.

Does slab not go from Scunthorpe to France for rolling there?
 

AndrewE

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Does slab not go from Scunthorpe to France for rolling there?
Long welded rail has come into the country via the Channel Tunnel, but I thought that was before the Scunthorpe rail mill was commissioned. I too would be surprised if UK steel went out to be rolled (edit - and brought back.)

No-one has said yet that rail steel is special, I believe it is very tightly specified compared to most steels/alloys.
In the US it is re-used as a premium product...
http://www.jssteel.com/content/chemical-mechanical-properties-rail-steel-angles
A
 
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hwl

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Where are the manganese steel castings made that form busy rail junctions?

It is largely do do with who supplies the points /crossings

Progress Rail Services took over the former Edgar Allen Company (inc. Hadfield) and there is still some UK production (Nottingham?).

Voestalpine (Austria)

Vossloh Cogifer (some kind of Tata Scunthorpe partnership) but the manganese steel components are made in NE France.

ArcelorMittal Asturias (Spain)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I believe that Scunthope is about to be sold, I can't see the blast furnaces surviving. They may be replaced by slab processing arc furnaces?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36015797

Given that they are keeping one of the (two) coking overs open I suspect not, it looks like they are cutting back on slab production so they aren't exporting/selling any slab outside the new owner group as there is zero market for this as the Redcar plant closure which was 100% slab for onward sale (mostly outside the UK showed). Liberty on the other hand are going for electric arc furnaces to use recycled steel but there isn't enough recycled material in the UK for all the plants to do this. I suspect exports of steel scrap will drastically reduce.
 

furnessvale

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Long welded rail has come into the country via the Channel Tunnel, but I thought that was before the Scunthorpe rail mill was commissioned. I too would be surprised if UK steel went out to be rolled.

There is a unit train several times a week from Scunthorpe to Hendaye in France which carries billets for rolling into rails.

The question I cannot answer is "does any of this steel come back to the UK as rail".
 

hwl

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There is a unit train several times a week from Scunthorpe to Hendaye in France which carries billets for rolling into rails.

The question I cannot answer is "does any of this steel come back to the UK as rail".

Tata have a big SNCF supply contract so I suspect most of it stays there
 

mcmad

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It is largely do do with who supplies the points /crossings

Progress Rail Services took over the former Edgar Allen Company (inc. Hadfield) and there is still some UK production (Nottingham?).

Its a bit more complicated than that. Balfour Beatty took over the Edger Allan and merged it with their own S&C fabrication and casting operations. The combined group then passed though a couple of owners after Balfour decided to concentrate on its core construction activities and is now owned by Progress Rail which is part of the caterpillar group.

There is a foundry at South Queensferry in Scotland were crossings and other components are cast. This replaced the old foundry at Bathgate which closed when the Airdrie to Bathgate line was rebuilt.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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There is a unit train several times a week from Scunthorpe to Hendaye in France which carries billets for rolling into rails.
The question I cannot answer is "does any of this steel come back to the UK as rail".

I think you might mean Hayange (Lorraine, on the Luxembourg border) rather than Hendaye (Spanish border).
Hayange is currently part of Tata Long Products like Scunthorpe, and produces rail for SNCF, notably the LGV network.
Steel for the rail is produced at Scunthorpe and exported for rolling at Hayange, so the train is actually part of the internal Tata manufacturing cycle.
(similar to the Tata trains which run from Llanwern/Port Talbot to Shotton).

The whole Long Products Europe operation is being sold to Greybull Capital, including the Hayange mill, and will be renamed British Steel.
While waving Union Jacks it is as well to remember the business includes French rail manufacture and is an integrated cross-European operation.

The Scunthorpe/Hayange process is supplying the rail for the new Tours-Bordeaux LGV, which opens next year.
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...-upgrade.html?sword_list[]=hayange&no_cache=1

Network Rail also has supply contracts with 2 other suppliers for the 5% of rail not supplied by Tata:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...k-rail-signs-five-year-rail-supply-deals.html
 
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Mikey C

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I think you might mean Hayange (Lorraine, on the Luxembourg border) rather than Hendaye (Spanish border).
Hayange is currently part of Tata Long Products like Scunthorpe, and produces rail for SNCF, notably the LGV network.
Steel for the rail is produced at Scunthorpe and exported for rolling at Hayange, so the train is actually part of the internal Tata manufacturing cycle.
(similar to the Tata trains which run from Llanwern/Port Talbot to Shotton).

The whole Long Products Europe operation is being sold to Greybull Capital, including the Hayange mill, and will be renamed British Steel.
While waving Union Jacks it is as well to remember the business includes French rail manufacture and is an integrated cross-European operation.

The Scunthorpe/Hayange process is supplying the rail for the new Tours-Bordeaux LGV, which opens next year.
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...-upgrade.html?sword_list[]=hayange&no_cache=1

Network Rail also has supply contracts with 2 other suppliers for the 5% of rail not supplied by Tata:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...k-rail-signs-five-year-rail-supply-deals.html

What was interesting about that second link, is that while NR buys 95% of its rails from Scunthorpe, this only accounts for 5% of the output from that site.

While the production of rails is good work for the site (and one of the reasons given for its survival) it's not as significant as I thought it would have been
 

najaB

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While the production of rails is good work for the site (and one of the reasons given for its survival) it's not as significant as I thought it would have been
But how much does the SNCF contract account for - it's likely as much or more.
 

zn1

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most of it comes from scunny, always used to anyway - HS1 may be different steel mind
 

LNW-GW Joint

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But how much does the SNCF contract account for - it's likely as much or more.

I think the Scunthorpe steel for France is a large one-off contract for the Bordeaux LGV.
Hayange probably have their own source for regular SNCF renewals.
 

Domeyhead

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Interstingly and slightly off topic the UK exports a huge amount of scrap to the far east. I know Southampton and Newport have large operations and I'm willing to bet there are many other (rail connected) sites too. If there is a welcome revision of this trend to divert this and produce more new steel from scrap then this should provide some railfreight business. Every town produces scrap metal - and scrap is ideal for rail.
 

NicholasNCE

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I think the Scunthorpe steel for France is a large one-off contract for the Bordeaux LGV.
Hayange probably have their own source for regular SNCF renewals.

The slab train from Scunthorpe to Hayange has been running for quite a few years, at least since 2007 as this article shows: http://www.ingenieur-ferroviaire.net/evenements/20070912-Visite-Corus-Hayange.doc

With Hayange being the only rail rolling mill in France, most French trains are actually running on British made steel!
 

WatcherZero

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Things like electronics and crushed cars its cheaper to export it and have it recycled elsewhere where labour and energy (and safety) is cheaper.
 

najaB

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Ahh but the French in comparison are protectionist.
Capitalism recognises no national boundaries. They'll use the fact that the steel is rolled in France to badge it as French, no matter where the slab comes from.
 

Trog

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With Hayange being the only rail rolling mill in France, most French trains are actually running on British made steel!

SNCF must be rather worried that in the event of the UK leaving the EU it will all turn to 113A or even Bullhead. I wonder what the French is for "Can I have several thousand AS1 chairs please Mr Storeman?"
 
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