NEW DELHI -- India's Tata Steel, one of the world's biggest steelmakers, announced today it has won a contract to supply rail track to Britain's railway infrastructure operator Network Rail for at least five more years.
Mumbai-based Tata Steel (IW 1000/183) said in a statement that Network Rail plans to source over 95% of its rail from Tata Steel until 2019, with the option to extend the deal until 2024.
The announcement comes as Tata Steel, which bought Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus for $13.7 billion in 2007, has been struggling to improve its European unit's performance in the face of the eurozone debt crisis.
The statement gave no indication of the value of the deal.
Tata Steel is the current supplier of rail to Network Rail, which runs and maintains Britain's extensive rail infrastructure, and loss of the contract could have put its Scunthorpe plant in Britain in peril.
The contract could result in Tata Steel, which employs 18,500 people in Britain, supplying more than a million tons of rail for the nation's passenger and freight lines, the statement said.
"This is fantastic news," said Tata Steel chief commercial officer Henrik Adam. "I am delighted the rail network in Britain will continue to be made and maintained with our U.K. rail."
Rail Improvements On Tap
Network Rail's group finance director, Patrick Butcher, said the company is renewing and improving more of Britain's railway over the next five years.
"Rails are at the root of everything we do, and this contract secures everything we need to keep improving the network," Butcher said.
The British rail network now carries 1.5 billion passengers every year -- more than at any time in over 60 years.
The latest Network Rail deal will account for around 5% of the annual steel output from Tata Steel's Scunthorpe site in Britain.
Tata Steel has invested tens of millions of pounds (dollars) in its advanced rail manufacturing facilities at its Scunthorpe site.
Tata Steel, part of India's steel-to-tea Tata Group, recently reported net profit nearly doubled to 11.39 billion rupees ($186 million) for its fiscal first quarter, which ended June 30, from a year earlier, while sales dipped 3% lower.
Tata Steel has operations in India, Europe and Asia.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013