Already a frontrunner on the French rail market, the Saarstahl Rail plant in Hayange has signed a EUR 200 million contract with Belgian infrastructure manager Infrabel.
The agreement covers the delivery of 2,800 km of “green” track over four years. Last year, 262,000 tonnes of rail were rolled at Hayange, 87% of which came from scrap.
The Hayange plant, part of the SHS – Stahl Holding – Saar GmbH & Co group, won the public tender launched by Infrabel at the end of last year thanks to a “more competitive” offer than its competitors. Although the tender did not include environmental criteria in its specifications, the fact that it produces rails using low-carbon processes weighed in favour of the German-owned French plant.
“The Saarstahl example shows that the market is moving towards innovative, more sustainable and competitive solutions. Infrabel is closely following developments and will from now on integrate them into its procurement policy, with the intention of stimulating innovation and contributing to an increasingly sustainable rail sector,” said Benoît Gilson, Infrabel’s CEO.
Environmentally friendly production technology
Since their purchase in 2021 by the German group, the Saarstahl Rail plant in Hayange and the Ascoval plant in Saint-Saulve (northern France) have been working in concert to produce “green” rail tracks, the spearhead of the company’s decarbonisation. So far, 87% of the rails (227,000 tonnes last year) have been produced from recycled scrap, melted with an electric arc at Saint Saulve. They are then rolled at Hayange and shipped to customers. According to Saarstahl, this process reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 70%, or 425,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
A first delivery of 900 tonnes of railway rails has been made to Infrabel’s Belgian workshops in Schaerbeek. The 300-metre rail sections will be welded together before being installed on the Belgian rail network.