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The Secrets Behind Railway Construction: What’s Used to Build Tracks?

Why Don’t Railway Tracks Rust?

When you think about it, railway tracks bear the weight of heavy freight trains and passenger cars every day. Made of iron, these tracks endure rain, shine, and even natural disasters. Yet, they rarely rust or corrode. Have you ever wondered why railway tracks remain resilient, despite constant exposure to water and air? Let’s delve into the science behind this remarkable phenomenon.

Understanding Corrosion

Corrosion occurs when iron-based materials come into contact with moisture or humidity in the air. This interaction triggers a reaction, leading to the formation of a brownish layer known as iron oxide. This layer is what we commonly refer to as rust. However, despite the prevalence of moisture in the atmosphere, railway tracks seem immune to this process. So, what makes them so special?

The Magic of Steel

To render railway tracks resistant to rust, a special kind of steel is employed. This steel is created by combining iron with an alloy known as manganese, referred to as Manganese Steel or Hadfield Steel.

This steel blend typically consists of 0.8% to 1.25% carbon and 11% to 15% manganese. Manganese steel is celebrated for its high impact strength and work-hardening ability. It exhibits a slow rate of oxidation, or in simpler terms, it doesn’t rust easily or does so at an incredibly slow pace. As a result, railway tracks made of manganese steel can withstand corrosion for many years without succumbing to it.

The Perils of Using Regular Iron

If conventional iron were used to manufacture railway tracks, the high moisture content in the air would lead to rapid corrosion. This would necessitate frequent track replacements, resulting in escalated costs and an increased risk of accidents. To combat this, specialized materials like manganese steel are used, ensuring the longevity and safety of the railway tracks.


In conclusion, railway tracks remain rust-free due to the clever use of manganese steel, which provides them with the ability to withstand the elements. By resisting oxidation, these tracks ensure the safety and efficiency of train operations while reducing the need for frequent maintenance and replacements.

We hope this article has shed light on why railway tracks don’t rust and why it’s essential for the safety and reliability of train transportation systems.