Innovative head-hardened rail from ArcelorMittal Poland to improve railway safety

by David Fleschen

Over PLN 200 million. This was the cost of innovative research and development projects intended to improve the innovativeness of manufactured rails, thanks to which, among others, the portfolio of ArcelorMittal Poland’s rolling mill in Dąbrowa was expanded to include a head-hardened rail which is extremely durable, strong hard and has much better properties than standard rail, and significantly exceeds the requirements of the standard product in some aspects.

The research and development project dedicated to heat-treated rail worth over PLN 105 million co-financed by the National Center for Research and Development from the European Regional Development Fund (over PLN 42,5 million) started in 2018. Intensive work on innovative type of rail has brought results - a product that meets the strict European standards and even exceeds them.

"The demand for heat-treated rails, that is harder and with better mechanical properties than standard untreated rails is evolving strongly ", explains Sanjay Samaddar, chairman of ArcelorMittal Poland. "That is why we decided to develop a type of rail that we did not have in our portfolio in Poland to meet the expectations of our customers", he emphasizes.

An interesting fact is that the line for heat treatment of rails was already in operation in the former Huta Katowice in the 1980s, but it was based on outdated technology and was closed in the early 1990s. Now, after 30 years, this research and development project has developed a modern rail with a hardened head adapted to the latest European and American standards.

"Our product is innovative not because it is heat treated but because it has a number of properties that meet the constantly growing requirements of railway companies", explains Wojciech Koszuta, CEO of ArcelorMittal Poland. The high parameters of this type of rails are the result of the modification of the microstructure in the heat treatment process and allow for increasing the hardness of the rail head and thus increasing wear resistance.

"During laboratory tests, our rail was subjected to, among others, fatigue tests. They are characterized by high resistance to fracture toughness and low levels of residual stresses, which directly improves safety in railway traffic", emphasizes Ph.D. Eng. Sylwester Żak from ArcelorMittal Poland, who is the head of the research and development team in the project.

The rolling mills in Dąbrowa Górnicza currently produce various rail profiles according to several international standards. The first type of R350HT rail with a hardened head goes into commercial production in this year.

Source and Photo: ArcelorMittal Poland

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