A new deal between Tata Steel and the French national railway company SNCF means that Tata’s Long Products Europe business will continue to supply the rail operator for the next five years.

While Tata has been SNCF’s main rail supplier since 1999, the contract can be traced back 130 years.

The new contract has a four-year extension clause option.

Gérard Glas, Tata Steel’s rail sector head said the new contract provides a ‘valuable foundation’ for the company’s future order book.

Tata will supply the bulk of SNCF’s 750kt rail requirements and will supply the rail in 108-metre lengths from its Hayange facility in North Eastern France.

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

In 2011, Tata invested EUR35 million at Hayange, enabling the mill to produce 108-metre lengths of rail that SNCF will use throughout France on its standard and high-speed networks.

Speaking of the investment and the newly signed contract, Glas said: “This contract win has been made possible by our continued drive to be more customer-focused.”

According to Glas, a close working relationship between Tata and SNCF has enabled the European steelmaker to develop the products and services needed by the French national rail operator.

Hayange is claimed to be one of the most technically advanced rail mills in the world. It produces heat-treated grades designed for high traffic and heavy freight and also supplies Sogenox, a special kind of rail that enables the train’s location to be communicated through the track using electrical signals.