In France, since the 1980s, urban tramways have made a remarkable comeback. Within Europe, as in many other countries throughout the world, issues like fossil fuel dependency, traffic jams and demands concerning sustainable urban development are strong motivators for urban light rail. Today, there are approximately 30 cities in France where a tramway network is present, totaling more than 700km of rails.
For many years, aluminothermy was the most common process used for joining these rails, however, in recent times, rail flashbutt welding has been further developed and is becoming more and more common practice.
While both welding processes are well established and offer several advantages, end-users are now looking for an alternative solution, one that is more cost effective and/or environmentally friendly.
TRI S RW-O has been specially developed for rail joining applications and provides the following key benefits:
• Short set-up time
• Easy to set-up
• Less fumes (compared to aluminothermy)
• Reduced finishing costs (de-burring, grinding)
• Minimal waste
This distinct cored wire has been developed in collaboration with a key customer to find the most suitable slag allowing a high quality weld deposit. Welders will need special skills to work on such specific grooves but the results are worth it.
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During 2018, Welding Alloys France has been working closely with one customer who has used 5t of TRI S RW-O for one new urban rail network. Each weld requires ~2kg of wire. Next year, another project will start with similar requirements.
In the coming years, several urban trams will be put into commission or upgraded. Roughly, there will be more than 165km of railway to be installed, meaning more than 18 600 welds. Moreover, due to normal wear, there is a need for maintenance every 15-20 years.
The Machines department is working on the finalization of a machine that will automate this process. Its launch is scheduled for March 2019. It will be exhibited for the first time at the SIFER show in France.