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Tata Steel to supply Britain's rail network for 5 more years

NEW DELHI: Tata Steel, one of the world's biggest steelmakers, announced Monday it has won a contract to supply rail track to Britain's railway infrastructure operatorNetwork Rail for at least five more years.

Tata SteelBSE 1.15 % said in a statement that Network Rail plans to source over 95 percent 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 
Corusfor $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 see Tata Steel, which employs 18,500 people in Britain, supplying more than a million tonnes of rail for the nation's passenger and freight lines, the statement said.

"This is fantastic news. I am delighted the rail network in Britain will continue to be made and maintained with our UK rail," said Tata Steel chief commercial officer 
Henrik Adam in a statement.

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 in the statement.

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 five percent 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 the financial first-quarter to the end of June, from a year earlier while sales edged three percent lower.

Tata Steel has operations in India, Europe and Asia.