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How We Use Steel in Transport

steel in transport

However you travel, you can be certain that steel is involved in some way. Bikes, cars, trains, ships, buses, and planes all use at least some steel, with some modes of transportation relying on various alloys more than others. This makes sense, of course, because steel is strong, durable, and affordable.

The benefits of steel in transport are clear. In addition to being strong and durable, steel is endlessly recyclable. That means that steel components of various types of transportation and infrastructure can be reused, whether recycled or remanufactured. When remanufactured, the steel can be recast using the latest innovations and alloys for an even stronger final product.

Today, around 16% of the steel produced around the world is used for transportation needs. While a lot of that steel is certainly used in cars, this metal is crucial to many other areas of transportation.

Ships and Barges

Structural steel plate has been used for shipbuilding for more than a hundred years. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a ship with a hull that’s not made entirely of steel. Today’s steel isn’t the same steel used in making, say, the Titanic. The latest steel plates are stronger than the steel used years ago, making them perfect for the construction of bigger ships, such as the mega-cruise ships we see today, or even larger container ships.

With the strength that the latest steel innovation offers, ships can become increasingly larger, with steel used in places on those ships and barges where it previously would not have. The ability to use more steel in these ships means that larger ships are lighter than ever before, giving them the ability to carry more cargo and move at faster speeds, all while saving on fuel consumption.

Trains and Rail Cars

Steel is essential to the construction of trains, particularly high-speed cars. Steel cars first appeared in passenger rail cars built in the 1930s. The steel construction made for lighter cars, which made for stronger construction. The stronger materials meant that less could be used, which gave more flexibility for innovation and design to make rail travel more comfortable.

Today, passenger and freight cars are almost entirely constructed of steel, as well as many of the components needed, like wheels, axles, and bearings. In all, steel makes up 15% of the construction of trains and train cars.


It’s not just the manufacturing of cars, ships, trains, and planes that requires steel. We also use enormous amounts of steel in the construction of our infrastructure. Bridges, tunnels, tracks, train stations, shipping ports, airports—all of these require steel for construction. If you’re going somewhere, whether down the road or around the world, you can thank steel for making your journey possible.

The ability to reuse steel for any or all of these transportation components makes it a very cost-effective material. Another way to save money is to seek out surplus steel. In most cases, Less-Than-Prime© steel is as good as prime steel just with some aesthetic flaws, and some may even have certs. So why not save money without comprising product integrity. At Texas Iron & Metal, we specialize in surplus (Less-Than-Prime©) steel, so give us call. If we don’t have what you are looking for in stock, we’ll find it for you.