Calais, France. In the dead of night, Railpro’s team is guided to the deepest point within the Eurotunnel. Five years ago, our first rubber-coated rails were installed here. So it’s about time for an inspection to examine whether the rails are still in good condition.
The reason why the coated rails were installed here was because of the extreme conditions of this location. The humidity and temperature levels are high, while salty water penetrates the tunnel’s walls. “A peculiar experience that you can only understand if you have been at this location yourself”, says our export manager Dominique.
We intend to perform various tests to detect whether the coating has remained sealed and no leakages have occurred. First, the rails’ surface has to be cleaned to make the coating visible again. The thick mud on the rails has formed a salty wet permanent layer on the coating. We cut out small window-shaped squares to see if the rail has been damaged by corrosion. And as it turns out, the coating indeed does what it is supposed to do; the coated rails have not been impaired. Naturally, the cut-out pieces are restored again using our inhouse-developed repair kit specifically designed for this purpose.
What’s also striking is that the sparks produced by the grinding train have hardly affected the coating. In this area, the sparks cannot be extinguished, allowing burn-in damage. The minimum amount of this type of damage shows that the penetration of the sparks into the coating has been limited and has therefore not caused any corrosion.
Meanwhile, our rubber coating has been in use now for over a decade in both Belgium and in the Netherlands. And it has also served its purpose in the Eurotunnel, because until the present day, the coated rails installed by Railpro have not suffered any rail breakage.
Benjamin Gelas, our supervisor and technical railway turnouts and track expert, is happy with the result: “The number of breakages has significantly decreased. Moreover, there is almost no need anymore for fitting pieces.”
The inspection was very instructive and helpful, and the knowledge obtained will enable us to further optimise the product.