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VoestAlpine number one in UK

6. January 2009

Austrian steel producer VoestAlpine has become the main supplier of tramrails for the UK's ambitious tramway expansion projects.  

Austrian steel producer VoestAlpine has become a major supplier of tramrails for the UK’s ambitious tramway expansion projects.VoestAlpine has played an instrumental role in the development of several UK tram systems.

Blackpool Tramway
VoestAlpine has delivered hundreds of tonnes of grooved rails to various construction companies involved in the upgrade of the historic Blackpool Tramway. Blackpool Tramway is the oldest tram line operated in the UK, dating back to 1885. The Blackpool network covers 18km and carries 6,500,000 passengers annually, using a variety of historic trams.

The main part of the track runs along the promenade and received no major investment for decades until 2006, when a major renewal project was given the go-ahead. The entire network will be upgraded by 2012 and several extensions are expected to be added to the current system.

VoestAlpine has also supplied pre-bent grooved rails ‘just in time’ to construction sites in Blackpool, which was a first in the UK, as none of Voest’s competitors were able to offer this service. In addition, all new switches and crossings were produced and delivered by VoestAlpine in Zeltweg.

Edinburgh Tram Network
Work has already started on a new Edinburgh 31km tramway to replace the one that closed in 1956. Line 1a from Edinburgh Airport to Leith via the city centre will cost £498m to build and is due to open in 2011. A contract valued at around £300 million to design, build and maintain Phase 1a of the network was awarded in 2007 to the BBS consortium comprising Bilfinger Berger and Siemens.

BBS awarded the construction of the rail infrastructure to Dutch company BAM, who in return has placed a first order with VoestAlpine over 4500t of grooved and flat-bottom rails. A further 3000t may be required for the follow up phase once the initial phase is completed. VoestAlpine has been shipping rails to the port of Leith in several lots starting in November 2008.

Manchester Metrolink
The two-line system carries around 20 million passengers annually, using a fleet of 32 trams. Government approval was granted in 2008 for the final £244 million of a £520 million funding package to help finance extensions to the network, set to double the Metrolink in size. The first stage of development will provide service in Oldham, Rochdale, Droylsden in Tameside and Chorlton in South Manchester. The second phase will take Metrolink into town centres and Manchester airport.

The Greater Manchester Transport Executive selected the M-Pact Thales Consortium (Thales, Laing O’Rourke & GrantRail) for a £538 million contract to design, build and maintain the extensions. Grantrail ordered 600t of grooved rails from VoestAlpine to start the project and rails were delivered to the port of Goole in September 2008 when construction commenced.

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