Companies and technology centers are working on the design of a new track type and train wheels for high abrasion conditions


Ceit-IK4 and Idonial, together with Arcelor Mittal and Copasa, are collaborating on a project that will allow trains to meet the challenges that sand and extreme temperature changes present when operating in the desert. The Railsand project, which is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, is seeking solutions that will address the adverse effects that these extreme conditions have on the railway track.

This project coincides with the first 1,000 trips that the Spanish high speed train (AVE) has just made to Mecca. According to data from the Spanish Mecca–Medina High Speed Consortium (CEAVMM), the trains carried 166,000 passengers per day and at an average occupancy of 83%.

The researchers participating in the Railsand project are designing a new type of hardened rail profile that is more resistant to the corrosion caused by sand abrasion and thus has a lower wear rate in desert conditions. They are also working on a process for reducing the slag from iron foundries in order to use it as ballast on the tracks.

This project is also developing software that allows the life cycle cost of the railway infrastructure to be calculated and optimized. This software will provide information that will support decisions about investing in and maintaining the rail profile and the ballast and about operating the railway as a function of factors such as speed, type of vehicle, amount of sand, etc.


166,000 passengers per day

444 km-route (Mecca-Medina)

35 trains

Speed up to 320 km/h

Travel time under 3 hours