The country’s largest steelmaker SAIL has said the rails supplied to railways are totally “defect free” and processing of tracks at the PSU follows highest level of quality control. The statement comes in the wake of railways inviting a global tender to plug the shortfall in supply of rails from Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL). “Production of rails is a complex multi stage process. The processing of rail tracks at SAIL follows highest level of quality control by virtue of which almost 15 per cent of work in progress is kept aside during various stages of production,” a company official said. State-owned SAIL has been its sole supplier so far. The public sector undertaking (PSU) has been supplying tracks to Indian railways for more than five decades. “The 100 per cent of rails supplied by SAIL to Indian railways are inspected by a third party and are completely defect free,” the official added. Railways recently said that it had to invite a global tender for procuring more than 4 lakh metric tonne of rails to meet the shortfall of supply from SAIL. Minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain had informed the Rajya Sabha that the requirement of rails for Indian Railways for year 2017-2018 was 14.59 lakh metric tonnes.
“SAIL as per their latest projection has given commitment to supply 9.5 lakh metric tonne rails during 2017-2018. To meet the shortfall of supply from SAIL, Railway has invited a global tender…,” Gohain had said. The pre-bid conference for this tender was held on 21 November. The technical bids of tender for procurement of 4,87,000 metric tonnes of 60 kg-UIC rails was opened on 22 December 2017. This was the first time that the national transporter floated a global tender for procuring rails. Recently, SAIL commissioned its 1.2 MTPA new Universal Rail Mill (URM). And with this, the PSU has begun the commercial production of world’s longest single rail of 130 meters from the new URM. “This URM will take BSP’s (Bhilai Steel Plant) total capacity to produce rails at 2.0 MTPA, which will be the largest rail production capacity in any single location for a plant world over,” the PSU official said.
“Alongside the URM, a long rail welding complex had also been set with proven technology for world class rail welding. The welding complex is equipped with fully automated flash butt welding machine to weld rail panels of 260-metre length and fully automated long rail handling facility,” the official added. This URM complex will equip SAIL to meet railways’ specific demand of 260-metre rails as the new mill is capable of producing 260 metre long rail with a single weld and also has the provision to supply welded panels up to 520 metre length in future, the official said.