Heat from the welding process has the potential to alter a rail's properties when used incorrectly, resulting in a decline in performance. Voestalpine says that as it continues to develop harder premium steel rails which offer reduced wear, it is imperative that welding technologies and techniques keep up with these advaces so it can offer the full benefits of these products to its customers.

Speaking to IRJ at InnoTrans, Mr Alexander Zlatnik, Voestalpine´s welding expert, said the company is attempting to overcome this difficulty by offering welding specialists and infrastructure managers the opportuniy to work at the new centre in conjunction with Voestalpine´s in-house experts.

"The purpose of the centre is to develop knowledge and understanding so that we might adjust existing welding procedures to suit a particular product in order to reduce the likelihood of failures," Zlatnik says. "If a specific steel recommends a weld that takes 5-7 minutes, this may seem like a small window but it could offer many different parameters. So if a company wants to carry out 200-400 welds to find out the optimum welding time, we will offer them the opportunity to do this in our lab."

Construction of the building in Loeben has already begun and Zlatnik says he hopes the centre will open by mid 2016.

"We will begin the in-house welding education programme next week, but this will be a long process to reach the level of expertise we require," he said.