British Steel's ultra-long Zinoco® rail which has been given full product approval by Network Rail
British Steel's ultra-long Zinoco® rail which has been given full product approval by Network Rail
23 Apr 2018

Network Rail approval of ultra-long Zinoco® rail secures multi-million-pound investment at British Steel

British Steel will step up production of its revolutionary Zinoco® rails after the ultra-long versions of the product received full approval from Network Rail.

We're investing a seven figure sum in new plant that will enable us to produce the premium coated rail in lengths of up to 108 metres, and welded lengths of up to 216 metres.

Zinoco®, the name of which derives from the words ‘Zinc for no corrosion’, is a world-first which can withstand the rigours of being laid in some of the most challenging rail environments. Its installation reduces the need for costly and disruptive rail replacement programmes in highly corrosive areas such as coastal lines, wet tunnels, level crossings, mineral lines and salt pans.

Peter Smith, British Steel Managing Director Rail, said: “Zinoco® offers superior corrosion protection compared to all current rail coating technologies on the market so we’re delighted Network Rail has given it full product approval up to lengths of 216 metres.

“We’re the only supplier in the world able to deliver corrosion-protected rail at this long length so this is a great success story, not only for us but for British manufacturing.”

Watch our video about Zinoco® here. The article continues below.

British Steel designed Zinoco® in conjunction with Network Rail and initially made deliveries in lengths of 18 metres before a series of trials were conducted with longer lengths.

The reduced number of welds longer lengths require not only speed up the installation process but give the rails greater integrity. Over the last 18 months longer length rails have been installed in tunnels near Bristol and Fife, culminating in Network Rail granting full product approval.

Work is already underway building the new plant to start production of the ultra-long Zinoco® rails in Scunthorpe. It’s anticipated it will be commissioned this Autumn.

Peter said: "This investment underlines our commitment to innovation and the highest levels of product quality and service delivery.

“Network Rail, like other operators, was having to replace rail prematurely due to rapid corrosion in isolated segments of a network. We’ve worked closely with them to deliver Zinoco®, a world first and a classic example of British Steel partnering with customers to provide a cost-effective solution to the challenges they face.”

Network Rail said: “This development will facilitate wider usage of coated rails supporting Network Rail in reducing re-railing activity in a number of key challenging locations in the future. This should ultimately support our aims of reducing the whole life cost of rail in these locations.” 

Zinoco® facts

  • Zinoco® typically extends corrosion life by over a factor of 3, delivering improved safety and availability of rail networks
  • It’s unique because of the combination of both barrier and sacrificial protection offered. The tough barrier function keeps corrosive elements away, whilst the cathodic protection element offers robust protection for real-life track environments.
  • With Zinoco® coated rail, the zinc rich (anode) coating corrodes in preference to the steel (cathode), therefore preventing the steel from corroding. The zinc oxide creates a strong barrier to further corrosion – in this way the protection of the metal is maintained, even if the coating is damaged
  • Zinoco® was British Steel’s first new product and won the Rail Engineers most interesting new product award 2016
  • Long coated rails are typically used in coastal routes, and wet tunnels to avoid rail corrosion and premature replacement
  • Shorter rails are often used for road (level) crossings to protect rails from road salt and debris
  • Zinoco® can be used in any track environment including third and fourth rail electrified areas as it is stray current tolerant. (Approved by NR/LUL and RATP)
  • Zinoco® is the only rail corrosion protection system approved for use in all Network Rail infrastructure
  • Zinoco® is one of British Steel’s unique tailored solutions to rail corrosion, which also includes solutions for rail head corrosion and crane rail protection