All over Europe, rail projects are full steam ahead. From HS2 to the transport route planned for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor spanning from Finland to Malta, many opportunities are arising from key infrastructural investment throughout the continent.
In the UK, the rail and underground network transports on average 6.5 million people each day. As the population of the country is set to increase over the next decade, plans are in place to increase capacity and access, while also making the network safer.
With 20,000 miles of track to maintain and projects such as HS2, Crossrail and plans for the Northern Powerhouse on the horizon, UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has committed to £48 billion of investment in railways from 2019 to 2024, with much of this earmarked for track maintenance rather than ancillary works.
Implications for abrasives...
With so many new potential projects for the rail industry, as well as an entire network to maintain, it’s vital that customers have the tools to work efficiently in order to capture a slice of any new business on offer and meet proposed deadlines for completion. This is alongside the usual ongoing maintenance projects.
While often an under-considered expenditure, choosing the right cutting and grinding tools for rail projects can help to grow margins by increasing productivity, saving time and money. Whether this be through the initial outlay for the products themselves or by reducing labour hours and associated costs.
Here, we will consider the challenges that face companies and contractors that operate in maintenance, operations and repair within the rail industry and how those challenges might be overcome.
An economic perspective
As the investment in infrastructure grows, new rail projects are opening up at a quite a pace. As most European economies have shown significant recovery following the global economic crises of the previous decade, it is becoming more important than ever to have an optimised rail network that can galvanise the economic activity across the continent.
Whether this be to facilitate transport freight or to enable workers easy access to places where they are required.
With dramatic increases in traffic, 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 per cent 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.
Keeping maintenance on track
As previously alluded however, the work is not solely centred around new projects, the perennial need for maintenance and repair operations is increasing too. As we increase our usage of the rail network; running more trains, increasingly passenger laden, more frequently – the requirement for maintenance will only grow.
Yet many operators must also manage significant time restraints to their schedule. In the past, maintenance could be carried out when the rail network came to a halt between 12.00-6.00 each night.
However, 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 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 steel selected is purer and harder in an effort to cope with increasing axel weight and total tonnage. This is alongside the conditions that the rails themselves are exposed to – humidity, rain, snow, heat…
The essential toughness of the steel presents a drawback however; it makes cutting and grinding operations increasingly difficult and tools therefore have to be powerful enough to cope with the demands.
Combine time restrictions with tough steel, tricky conditions and machinery that can’t always keep up, and it’s easy to see the challenges the rail industry is facing.
That’s why it’s vital that rail companies have access to specialist tools for cutting and grinding in the building and maintenance of railways. When taxpayers’ money is at stake, time and cost efficiencies are highly sought-after commodities.
Norton's expertise in rail
Norton 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.
Our latest Rail cutting disc has been formulated with the exclusive Norton Quantum3 grain and advanced bond combination to cut through any rail type, quicker, straighter and with fewer vibrations than any competing product on the market.
With Norton solutions, operators can complete the job with a high degree of efficiency and meet the tight deadlines to which they are subject.
Track grinding is another key application in the preservation and repair of rail, tram, and subway tracks.
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 Norton Abrasives can provide, please contact our Norton experts using the email contact form. Alternatively, contact your Norton representative today.
UK customers can buy via https://www.codiun.com/contact-us/