Just because a company makes high-technology components for the rail industry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is all that it does.

So the sight of a mining track shoe on display outside a major rail components supplier shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. The more likely reaction is probably: “What on earth is that?”

Different sort of track

The mining track shoe in question is made at Progress Rail’s specialist steel products foundry in South Queensferry, just outside Edinburgh. One shoe weighs in at a striking three tonnes. However, when seen on the finished article – a mining excavator – it pales into insignificance when compared with the sheer size of the overall machine which can be found working in challenging mining environments around the world.

Progress Rail Services UK Ltd is well known in the UK railway market for the manufacture of switches and crossings (S&C) and ancillary products. However, its versatile approach means it has expanded far beyond the remit of a rail components and systems manufacturer. It has also increasingly sought to use its capabilities outside of the rail industry and has successfully exported products for wider industrial applications.

“Through our aim to provide bespoke solutions for our clients, we have adapted our product range to suit diverse requirements. The track shoe was born from our ability to make large castings in our state of the art foundry with cutting edge steel making capability and knowledge developed by our grounding in the rail industry. Our expertise allows us to design, manufacture, and develop products to continuously improve the service and range we can offer to clients,” said Adam Todd, head of business development for Progress Rail UK.

It’s just bollards!

Anyone walking along the streets of Westminster, London, will notice cast steel security bollards standing guard along the pavements and outside public buildings. Capable of withstanding a large vehicle travelling at high speed with zero penetration, these bollards, which come in a range of shapes and sizes, are made from high strength manganese steel. They are used by governments, local authorities, aviation authorities and at other high risk strategic locations within the UK and overseas – another unexpected product from a railway products foundry.

“Providing security solutions was not part of the ‘railway remit,’ but the need was addressed by our skilled team of engineers. We work closely with professional bodies and local universities to research and explore new and exciting ways of working to improve our product offering,” Adam added.

So while its standard range of products can be viewed on Progress Rail’s website for the UK, the team is always keen to hear about new specialist items, whether they be for the rail industry or elsewhere.