The steelmaker will supply about 50,000 tonnes of rail for the new Brittany-Loire Valley line, which will connect the cities of Le Mans and Rennes.
The steel will be manufactured in Scunthorpe, UK, before being rolled into rail at Tata Steel’s mill in Hayange, north-east France, for delivery from 2015. The order value is likely to be around €50 million.
Jean-Luc Trottin, Eiffage Rail Managing Director, said: “One of the key reasons for awarding this Letter of Intent to Tata Steel was its commitment to deliver the rail when we need it, directly to the job site of Sablé and Laval.”
Gérard Glas, Head of Tata Steel’s Rail Sector, said: “This is our second high-speed rail project secured in the last year and is a recognition of our world-class product and service.
“We will be supplying rails each measuring 108 metres long for this new high-speed line, giving passengers a smoother ride and reducing maintenance costs.
“We’ve been investing significantly in state-of-the-art technology at our Hayange rail mill – almost €50 million in three years – to enable us to make the highest quality rail and help us create a sustainable future for our 400 employees there.”
The Le Mans to Rennes rail project is one of the biggest in Europe and will be built by the French construction company Eiffage. The new line will be an extension of an existing high-speed link and will reduce travel times between Paris and Rennes by 37 minutes. The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs during the construction phase and will be completed in 2016.
In July Tata Steel announced an investment in new technology at its Hayange rail mill to produce longer wear-resistant rails. And last year the company completed an upgrade of the facility, enabling it to produce 108-metre long rails.
In 2011 Tata Steel secured a major order to supply rail for a new 302km (188 mile) long high-speed line between the French cities of Tours and Bordeaux. And in 2009 French railway operator SNCF signed a €350 million contract with Tata Steel to buy rail for up to six years.
Tata Steel supplied the rail from its Hayange plant for the track on which a TGV broke the world train speed record in 2007. The French train reached a speed of 574.8kph (357mph) between Paris and Strasbourg.
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About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.