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COWI Russia is currently heading the construction of a new factory in Kazakhstan – a factory built to produce railway rails measuring 120 metres a piece; the longest in the world.
When it comes to producing the longest railway rails in the world, Kazakhstan is beating Japan at the finish line. Once COWI has constructed the factory in the city of Aktobe, Kazakhstan will be able to produce 120-metre rails. The world record is currently in the hands of the Japanese, who produce rails measuring 100 metres.
Experiencing high growth rates, Kazakhstan is a country in need of better infrastructure. A great domestic demand is therefore expected, but the factory’s products will also be sold abroad.
Besides the obvious prestige of holding a world record, the main reason for wanting to produce these rails is the many advantages:
"Alongside the ever growing train speed, there is a need to reduce the number of joints in rails. The longer the rails, the fewer the joints, in turn decreasing the rate of wear on the wheel axles. Or put in another way: Longer rails will save money in the long run and increase safety," says Project Manager Alexander Vlasov in COWI Russia.
The production of rails is a complicated process. The main requirement is to comply with the predefined limits of straightness and to maintain a consistent rail quality. The greater the length of the rail, the more difficult it is to comply with this requirement. To make rails at this size durable is a demanding task.
The technology used to harden the rails is called bulk differentiated hardening. The rail head is made much harder than the rail web and base by blowing a mixture of compressed air and water on the rails.
"It's said that China has an intention to establish a process line to produce rails of similar length and Japan already produces rails with similar parameters, but the hardening process makes these rails unique," says Vlasov.
Upon factory completion this summer, the world's longest rails will be available for railway projects all over the world.