28 Nov 2016

British Steel delivers world first with revolutionary long-length coated rail

British Steel has become the first company in the world to manufacture and deliver a revolutionary new long-length coated rail, providing major benefits to rail operators and passengers. 

Less than six months after British Steel unveiled Zinoco® – a premium coated rail that protects in the most corrosive of environments – the company has supplied Network Rail with ground-breaking 108 metre lengths of the product. 

Network Rail has now installed the rail in the Patchway tunnels on the Great Western railway as part of the biggest investment on the route since Brunel built it more than 150 years ago. 

Peter Smith, British Steel’s Managing Director for Rail, said: “Zinoco offers superior corrosion protection compared to all current rail coating technologies on the market and we are now delighted to be supplying this in longer lengths. 

“No other company produces rail with this level of protection and at this length, and it is the perfect product for track environments such as those in the Patchway tunnels. They are not the driest and have historically suffered from rail corrosion, requiring expensive and disruptive rail replacement to keep traffic on the move. 

“Our 108m lengths of Zinoco can be rapidly installed in the confined tunnel environment and the sacrificial protection it offers will greatly extend rail life – this is projected to be by between three and 10 times. This means lower maintenance costs and increased track availability – major benefits to maintainer operators and passengers.” 

Zinoco was developed by British Steel in direct response to Network Rail’s requirement for more durable corrosion protection. It is designed for use in harsh environments where corrosion determines rail life such as coastal lines, wet tunnels, level crossings, mineral lines and salt pans. 

The delivery and installation of the first long-lengths of Zinoco required close collaboration between British Steel and Network Rail. The rails were delivered on time and British Steel’s technical team was present to support the installation. 

John Austin, British Steel’s Network Rail Account Manager, said: “We are immensely proud of our close working relationship with Network Rail, and this project is no better example of how we can work in partnership. 

“In the coming months, Zinoco will be installed in Barnet Tunnel, close to Kings Cross, and contracts have also been secured with RATP in France and with Iarnród Éireann in Ireland. 

“This all stands testament to the skills of our employees and British Steel’s commitment to developing innovative products for our customers.” 

Zinoco, designed, developed and manufactured by British Steel at its Scunthorpe plant, is unique because of the combination of both barrier and sacrificial protection offered. The 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 guaranteed, even if the zinc layer is slightly damaged. 

Picture details: British Steel’s revolutionary Zinoco long-length coated rail at Patchway tunnels 

Video: View the first long length Zinoco leaving Scunthorpe here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLKKiB3JVWI 


Media Enquiries

British Steel

David Atkin: +44 1724 406898/+44 7919 297936 or email media@longssteel.com

Bell Pottinger

Henry Lerwill: +44 203 772 2570/+44 7894 608 607


About British Steel

British Steel is our new company, created with a proud heritage and a passion to build stronger futures.

Our past has always been important to us but now we’re looking to the future, maintaining world leader status in steel production. Our steel has been, and continues to be, fundamental in creating iconic, awe-inspiring structures around the world. It helps people travel, work, eat and socialise every day. More importantly, it helps keep us safe.

As British Steel, we are more agile and easier to do business with, meaning we’re more responsive, adaptable, competitive and proactive in our markets and for our customers. We know we have passionate, hard-working, ambitious and dedicated employees and together we are creating a future we are all proud to be part of.

We produce more than 2.8 million tonnes of steel every year. From this, we manufacture more than 1,450 different specifications of steel that gets rolled into rail, sections, special profiles and wire rod.

British Steel employs 4,800 people (4,400 in the UK, 400 in France). The business is made up of the following facilities: 

  • Scunthorpe integrated steelworks
  • Teesside Beam Mill, Lackenby
  • Special Profiles, Skinningrove
  • Hayange Rail Mill, north east France
  • Immingham Bulk Terminal (port terminal)
  • Engineering business, Workington
  • National design consultancy
  • Associated distribution facilities in the UK and Ireland
  • Global sales offices


Landmark railways that contain British Steel products

  • 96 per cent of Network Rail’s steel rail is made by British Steel
  • Crossrail, London
  • Borders Railway – longest UK railway to be built in over 100 years
  • TGV high speed lines, France
  • Mecca-Medina line, Saudi Arabia