Safety concerns to spur demand for long rails

Our Bureaus New Delhi Feb. 20 | Updated on November 15, 2017

Mr C.S. Verma

SAIL sees healthy off-take from Indian Railways

SAIL expects a 20 per cent demand growth for long rails as the Indian Railways, one of its largest customer, shifts to a longer rail length due to safety reasons.

The Indian Railways have been progressively shifting to longer length rails as it means less welding over the entire track length. This reduces the wear and tear at the joints and also provides better riding quality for passengers. It is estimated that a third of train derailments are on account of track defects largely caused by rail and weld failures.

Prior to 2004, the Railways procured rails in length of 13 m and 26 m from SAIL. Since 2004, the steel major supplies rails of up to 260 m welded panels after it commissioned Long Rail Finishing Line at its Bhilai Plant.

The country's largest steel maker has scaled up its supplies of long rails to Indian Railways at 1.11 lakh tonnes in 2010-11, up from about 9,000 tonnes in 2004-05. SAIL supplies over 96 per cent of Indian Railways' requirement.

“We expect the procurement to grow by more than 20 per cent in the current year,” said Mr C.S. Verma, Chairman, SAIL.

This demand growth could accelerate further with the Indian Railways moving towards heavier rail procurement on the back of carrying higher weight per axle. At present, Railways procures rails of 52 kg per metre and 60 kg per metre.

The demand for 60 kg per metre rail could go up further on the back of recommendation by the high-level Railway Safety Committee headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar, former Atomic Energy Chairman. The Committee has suggested that Railways should stop procuring rails with a weight of 52 kg per metre and instead deploy only 60 kg per metre. Even the 60 kg per metre rails are fully stressed with the Railways increasingly moving heavier traffic per axle, the Committee noted.

The total annual supplies of rails by SAIL stands at close to a million tonnes. Over the last 10 years, Railways' annual procurement from SAIL varied from 0.6 million tonnes to 0.8 million tonnes. SAIL is setting up a new unit in Bhilai with an investment of Rs 1,600 crore to cater to the demand from the rail-based mass rapid transit systems like metros. The upcoming mill will also produce heavier rails of 75 kg per metre.

By 2020, the Railways plan to add 25,000 km of new lines to the existing network. SAIL expects a healthy growth in the rail market in this decade supported by new lines, track renewal works, gauge conversion, siding demand from other industries, and ports.



Published on February 20, 2012

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