All over Europe, large scale rail infrastructure projects are seemingly on the increase.
In the UK, rail and underground networks move approximately 6.5 million people each and every day, and with the ever-expanding population of the country, plans are in place to increase capacity and access to this network.
20,000 miles of track will be laid in order to complete projects such as Crossrail and HS2. Initial work on the Northern Powerhouse project are looming and the UK government has already committed to £48 billion (€53 million) worth investment in the railway network between 2019 to 2024; much of this is earmarked for track maintenance. A fact that is sure to make abrasive suppliers’ ears prick up.
In addition, the new transport route planned for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor that connects Finland to Malta will include several areas of railway development. These incorporate the Brenner Base rail tunnel that will carry passengers and goods to in order alleviate the significant and frequent bottlenecks experienced in the locale and help drastically reduce travel time across the continent.
How it affects abrasive customers
These are just two examples of planned large scale rail projects and with many other potential developments in motion across Europe, alongside as an existing network to maintain, it’s vital that customers working on these projects and large scale contracts have the tools with which to work efficiently.
Netting a piece of this new influx of business, alongside the ongoing maintenance projects, is sure to be high on the agenda for many contractors and SMEs in the rail MRO (maintenance, operations, and repair) market.
Selecting the most appropriate rail cutting discs and grinding wheels for any given project can present a source of competitive advantage and an opportunity to grow higher margins for many abrasive customers. Whether this be through the initial outlay for the products themselves or by reducing labour hours and associated costs, the customer is afforded the flexibility to be more keen on price in the tendering process or earn more in less competitive arenas.
Working on the railway
An optimised rail network will help galvanise economic activity across the continent. Whether this be to facilitate the transport of freight, enable workers to easily access places where they are required, or for civilians to reach centres of commerce, rail infrastructure strength will likely continue to be intrinsically linked to economic health.
With increases in the amount of cars on European roads and the resultant traffic, many major roads are struggling to cope. Highways England estimates that congestion on its network of motorways and roads in England costs an estimated £2 billion every year. 25 percent resulting from incidents.
It seems logical therefore to move some of these passengers and goods towards an extended rail networks that could ultimately bring economic benefits across Europe.
Staying on track
As previously alluded, the work is not solely centred around new projects, the perennial need for maintenance and repair operations is also increase. As the rail network is more frequently used; more trains, increasingly passenger laden, more frequently – the requirement for track and train maintenance will surely rise. Many operators must also now manage significant time restraints to their maintenance schedules. In the past, maintenance could be carried out when the rail network came to a halt between 12.00am and 6.00am. However, with more freight travelling at night, passenger trains running later and starting earlier, and with the genuine prospect of a 24-hour train schedule in the near future (at least in the UK), rail repair companies have less time to carry out the essential maintenance that’s needed to keep the trains going.
When it comes to building new rail tracks or maintaining existing ones, the modern demands of the railway mean that the steel selected is purer and harder than ever before. Heavier train axels, total tonnage, all combined with the impact of weather conditions have all contributed to this necessary choice.
The toughness of the steel however presents a significant drawback in that it makes cutting and grinding operations significantly more difficult. Specialist abrasives and tools powerful enough to cope with the demands are therefore essential.
Flexovit's expertise in rail
Flexovit offers a complete range of products designed specifically for the rail industry, from small diameter cutting discs through to an extensive range of bonded grinding wheels.
The latest Flexovit Rail cutting disc has been manufactured with MAXX3 ceramic grain and an advanced bond that will readily cut through rail steel and with fewer vibrations than other competing product on the market. With Flexovit solutions, operators always feel in control, cut straight, and complete the job with a high degree of efficiency; meeting the tight deadlines to which they are always held to.
Norton organic bonded wheels, cups and plugs cover a wide range of grinding needs, offering performance solutions for both portable hand-held and track mounted machines, allowing operators to increase productivity and grind rails quickly and safely.
We are constantly innovating to bring the best solutions to this critical market, looking to increase efficiency, speed and wheel life to help operators when they’re working in the toughest conditions.
When operators working in the middle of the night, in terrible weather conditions, workers need solutions that they can trust to work effectively and efficiently; solutions that we strive to deliver.
For more information
If you are interested in hearing more about any of the rail specific solutions that can Flexovit Abrasives can provide, please contact us using the email contact form. Alternatively, contact your Flexovit representative today.