British Steel secures major deal with Guinea for rail sleepers


British Steel has won its largest ever order for rail sleepers with a major export deal for West Africa.

The deal will see the export of 244,000 steel sleepers to Guinea, which will be used to upgrade a railway line at a bauxite mine.

The firm said its steel sleepers, manufactured at its Scunthorpe plant, were 100% recyclable and provided a more durable and cost-effective solution for track operators

Rail export sales manager Jérôme Bonef described it as fantastic news for the business.

It comes just two weeks after the firm announced the closure of its coking ovens at the plant, with the loss of up to 260 jobs.

The closure is seen as a worrying indicator about the health of the UK steel industry, with union officials claiming the industry “is on a knife edge”.

On the subject of the export deal, Mr Bonef said: “Our steel sleepers provide the perfect technical solution to the challenges facing rail operators in this region and we’re proud to have been chosen to support such a major project,” he added.

According to British Steel, Guinea is estimated to possess more than a quarter of the world’s supply of bauxite, and as it continues to increase its export capacity, it needs to upgrade existing freight lines.

Steel sleepers are stronger and more durable than wooden sleepers, which have been traditionally used in African regions.

Working in partnership with Trackwork, which processes the rolled sleeper into its finished form, British Steel’s contract with the Guinea Bauxite Company will see it deliver the steel sleepers over the next year.

Another partner, Pandrol, is providing the railway fastenings to secure the sleepers.

Trackwork sales manager Dave Roberts said it was “the most significant” single order for steel railway sleepers in the “long history of our partnership with British Steel”.

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