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The announcement follows Tata’s €35 million ($48 million) investment made in 2011 at its plant at Hayange, in the Lorraine region of northern France, to prepare it for such projects.

It will supply the French group with more than 200,000 tonnes of track, in rail lengths up to 108m, as part of a new two-year contract.

“We made a significant investment in Hayange to be able to produce the 108m-long rail required by SNCF,” Tata Steel chief commercial officer Henrik Adam said.

“Our heat-treatment facility means we are also now able to produce highly wear-resistant rail in lengths up to 108m – a key requirement of most of our European customers,” he added.

“The news comes just weeks after the unveiling of the new €12 million [$16 million] heat-treatment facility at the Hayange plant, built as part of Tata Steel’s customer-focused approach to the market,” Tata said.

Heat-treated rail, according to the steelmaker, can last as much as three times longer than standard rail in high-wear situations such as heavy traffic, high axle loads or tight curves.

The newly opened facility at Hayange will allow Tata to more than double its annual output of heat-treated rail from 55,000 tonnes to 125,000 tonnes.

The Hayange rolling mill is supplied with steel from Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe steelworks in the UK.