New AVE rails resistant to desert abrasion

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IDONIAL technological center, CEIT-IK4, ARCELOR MITTAL and COPASA work on the creation of new AVE rails resistant to desert abrasion.

Extreme temperatures in Saudi Arabia, ground conditions and low humidity have caused the first inconveniences in the AVE to Mecca, whose commercial service started last year. The presence of sand and high environmental temperatures cause major problems for train safety and maintenance due to corrosion, cracks, wear, etc.


The solution involves the Railsand project, funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, in which 4 Spanish companies are actively working: Idonial Centro Tecnológico, Ceit-IK4, ArcelorMittal and COPASA.

Several objectives have been set from Railsand, from developing an ultra-resistant rail that supports extreme conditions to the challenge of developing software that allows the calculation of the cost of the life cycle of the lane based on the characteristics of the infrastructure, the service, the vehicle, etc. as well as maintenance to determine the best type of lane and an optimal maintenance strategy.

Objectives of the RAILSAND Project:

  • El primer objetivo es el diseño de la composición química del acero y el desarrollo de tratamientos termomecánicos y térmicos y para conseguir un nuevo tipo de carril capaz de incrementar la resistencia a la abrasión de la arena del desierto y evitar la corrosión.
  • El segundo objetivo es definir un proceso óptimo de reducción química de la escoria de fundición de hierro para la eliminación del CaO hasta el nivel que permita su uso en infraestructuras de clima desértico.
  • El tercer objetivo es el desarrollo de una aplicación SW que permita calcular el coste del ciclo de vida del carril teniendo en cuenta las características de la infraestructura, las características del servicio (vehículo, velocidades, aceleraciones, adherencia) y las características del mantenimiento (por ejemplo los costes del amolado del carril, costes de la sustitución del carril, costes de inspección). A partir de esta herramienta se podrá determinar el mejor tipo de carril para una infraestructura y condiciones de operación, así como la estrategia de mantenimiento óptima.

Since the launch of the AVE to Mecca, data is constantly being collected on the state of the infrastructure, the evolution of the materials or the climatic conditions. The researchers will make a comparison with the current parameters that will be obtained from the installation of a new rail more resistant to abrasion in which they are working.

This new lane is being developed in different test benches of the Ceit-IK4 and Idonial. These works include simulations of the operation of different materials in different conditions, at extreme temperatures and with sand of various thicknesses and sizes in order to obtain a new type of hardened rail with a lower wear rate and with a longer life cycle in the desert abrasion conditions.

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