Inspections show British Steel's Zinoco® prevents corrosion on railway lines

24 May 2024

A rail coating devised by experts at British Steel to prevent corrosion on railway lines is proving effective as demonstrated in recent inspections.

In one particular case in the north of England, corrosion-resistant Zinoco® has been used to protect rails in a highly corrosive environment. And the early results make extremely encouraging reading.

Over time, unprotected steel experiences corrosion when exposed to wet and damp conditions, particularly those containing salt. Such conditions are common operating environments for steel rails. For example, tunnels, coastal routes, and level crossings.

However, Zinoco® provides a protective coating to the rail which guards the steel against corrosive attack. It has been specially designed to be much more resistant to damage with tests proving it can be six times more resistant to impact and five times more resistant to abrasion.

Zinoco®, which was launched in 2016, was first installed at the location in January 2023 following an inspection where significant historic corrosion issues were identified.

Stephen Lewis, Rail Technologies Manager, said: “Overall, the Zinoco® rail installed at this location in the north of England is performing well. The coating is still intact and there are no signs of corrosion 12 months after installation.

“The original damage to the previously uncoated rail had occurred in less than 12 months but with rails coated with Zinoco® they are clearly being protected from attack, as the coating has been designed.

“It is evident from this example that the use of Zinoco® is extending the life of the rail in corrosive conditions. This in turn will ensure that assets can have greater longevity.

“It also means there should be less disruption to this section of railway as there should be a lesser need for repairs or replacements, given Zinoco®’s  proven reliability. Fewer inspections of the line will be needed as there is assurance that the assets are being given protection from harsh elements.”

Zinoco® is applied by thermal spray at our Scunthorpe plant and can be used on any grade or profile of rail. Rails of up to 216 metres long can be produced and can be supplied by special rail delivery trains across Europe. Rails have been transported as far away as Canada with no reported damage to the coating through transit.

The coating is a zinc-rich alloy developed from our existing protective coatings but with improved durability, winning approval from Network Rail in 2018 and further enhanced in 2019.