SNCF approves Liberty ‘greensteel’ rails

Liberty France and French state rail operator SNCF Réseau have approved the deployment of Europe’s first “greensteel” rails on the French rail network, Liberty says in a note sent to Kallanish.

The Hayange mill, previously France Rail Industry and now part of Liberty, worked closely with SNCF Réseau to manufacture a range of greensteel rails which will be used across the French railway network. This new production process reduces CO2 emissions by -90% compared with the traditional European rail production method.

This is made possible by the use of the electric arc furnace process, rather than the traditional blast furnace. The greensteel method emits 180kg of CO2 per tonne of steel compared to 1.8 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel using conventional blast furnaces. The goal is to make the rails completely carbon neutral by 2030.

Liberty acquired Ascoval and Hayange in order to connect the two, so that together they become the leader in greensteel rails. This sees Liberty Ascoval melting recycled scrap steel, including recovered scrap rail from Hayange’s customers, in its EAF to produce large rectangular greensteel blooms. These are then rolled by Hayange.

This is the result of a €17 million ($20m) investment implemented shortly after the acquisition of Ascoval, when its new modified caster produced its first square billet. Ascoval is gradually increasing capacity, with the prospect of adding more jobs in early 2021 as the plant expands its production.