Broad gauge railway

Rail gauge
Broad gauge
Standard gauge
Scotch gauge
Narrow gauge
Dual gauge
Break-of-gauge
Rail tracks
Tramway track
List of rail gauges
edit
Broad gauge railways use a rail gauge (distance between the rails) greater than the standard gauge of 4 ftin (1435 mm).

List

For a list see: List of broad gauges, by gauge and country

Details

Enlarge picture
Great Western Railway broad gauge steam locomotives awaiting scrapping in 1892 after the conversion to standard gauge.
In Britain the Great Western Railway designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel pioneered broad gauge from 1838 with a gauge of 7 ft 0¼ in (2140 mm), and retained this gauge until 1892.

While Parliament was initially prepared to authorise lines built to the broad gauge, it was eventually rejected by the Gauge Commission in favour of all railways being built to Standard Gauge for compatibility. Broad gauge lines were gradually converted to dual gauge or standard gauge from 1864, and finally the last of Brunel's broad gauge was converted in 1892.

Many countries have broad gauge railways. Ireland (see History of rail transport in Ireland) and some parts of Australia have a gauge of 5 ft 3 in (1600 mm) (but Luas, the Dublin light rail system, is built to standard gauge). Russia and the other former Soviet Republics use a 1520 mm (4 ft 11.85 in) (originally 5 ft (1524 mm)) gauge while Finland continues to use the 5 ft (1524 mm)) gauge inherited from Imperial Russia (the two standards are close enough to allow full interoperability between Finland and Russia).

Enlarge picture
Irish broad gauge tracks


In 1839, the Netherlands started its railway system with two broad gauge railways. The chosen gauge was 1,945 mm after a visit of engineers in England. This was applied between 1839–1866 by the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (HSM) for their Amsterdam-The Hague-Rotterdam line and between 1842–1855, firstly by the Dutch state, but soon by the Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij for their Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem line. But the neighboring countries Prussia and Belgium used already standard gauge so the two companies had to regauge their first lines. In 1855, NRS regauged its line and shortly after connected to the Prussian railways. The HSM followed in 1866. There are replicas of one broad gauge 2-2-2 locomotive (De Arend) and three carriages in the Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht. These replicas were built for the 100th anniversary of the Dutch Railways in 1938–39.

The Baltic states have received funding from the European Union for rebuilding their railways to the standard gauge. Portugal and the Spanish Renfe system use a gauge of 5 ft 5½ in (1,668 mm) called "Ancho Ibérico" (see Rail gauge). In India a gauge of 5 ft 6 in (1676 mm) is widespread. This is also used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system of the San Francisco Bay Area. In Toronto, Canada the gauge for TTC subways and streetcars was chosen in 1861, years after the establishment of 'standard gauge' in Britain, but well before 'standard gauge' in the US and Canada. Toronto uses a unique gauge of , an "overgauge" originally stated to 'allow horse-drawn wagons to use the the rails', but with the practical effect of precluding the use of standard gauge equipment in the street. In 1861, the Province was supplying subsidies only to broad 'provincial gauge' railways.

The value of interoperability was not obvious to the industry at first. The standardization movement was gradual, and over time the value of a proprietary gauge diminished, being replaced by the idea collecting money for equipment used on somebody else's railroad lines.

Most non-standard broad gauges get in the way of interoperability of railway networks. On the GWR, the 7 ft 0¼ in (2140 mm) gauge was supposed to allow for high speed, but the company had difficulty with locomotive design in the early years (which threw away much of their advantage), and rapid advances in permanent way and suspension technology saw standard gauge speeds approach broad gauge speeds within a decade or two in any case. On the 5 ft 3 in (1600 mm) and 5 ft 6 in (1676 mm) gauges, the extra width allowed for bigger inside cylinders and greater power, a problem solvable by outside cylinders and higher steam pressure on standard gauge. On BART, the wider gauge is supposed to prevent lightweight trains from being blown over by the wind.

The British Raj in India adopted 5 ft 6 in (1676 mm) gauge, although some standard gauge railways were built in the initial period. The standard gauge railways were soon converted to broad gauge. Reputedly, broad gauge was thought necessary to keep trains stable in the face of strong monsoon winds. Attempts to economise on the cost of construction lead to the adoption of 1 m (3 ft 338 in) gauge and then 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) and 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauges for many secondary and feeder lines.

However broad gauge remained the most prevalent gauge across the Indian subcontinent, reaching right across from Iran to Burma and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. After Independence, the Indian Railways adopted 5 ft 6 in (1676 mm) as the standard Indian Gauge, and began Project Unigauge to convert metre gauge and narrow gauge to broad gauge. Even the newest rail projects in India, such as the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro use broad gauge. There was a move to use standard gauge for the Delhi Metro, but the decision was made to use broad gauge to maintain compatibility with the rest of the rail network in India. The new Bangalore Metro Lines will be on standard gauge and similarlly Mumbai & Hyderabad Metro will also be on standard gauge.

Russian Broad Gauge

Although it is a popular myth that Russian gauge was selected wider to prevent railroad invasion, this is not true. Russian gauge of 5 ft (1524 mm) was approved as the new standard on September 12 1842. The selection process was done chiefly by Colonel Pavel Petrovich Melnikov (1804-1880). Probably, a combination of the following arguments was used:
  • Easier construction of locomotives
  • Better stability
  • Wide gauge was seen as a new standard that was emerging in the United States
  • Since the gauge was wider than standard road track it was easier to use horse carriages for railroad construction and maintenance.
George Washington Whistler was invited as a foreign expert to assist in railroad construction. He was a proponent of a wider gauge and his efforts helped in lobbying the new standard. It is quite likely that an "invasion" argument (alleging that it is easier to adapt trains to narrow gauge than to broad gauge) was used in lobbying the project since military was closely supervising the construction; however, it is highly unlikely that such an argument was made by Melnikov during the actual selection process. Nazi Germany suffered such problems with their supply lines during World War II as a result of the break-of-gauge.

Although broad gauge was and is quite rare on lighter railways and street tramways, many tramways in ex-USSR were and are also built to broad gauge (according to terminology in use in these countries, gauges narrower than 1520 mm (4 ft 11.85 in) are considered to be narrow). The former Soviet Union is today the largest operator of first generation tramways in the world, and has been for many years. The modern world's largest tramway network, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is entirely broad gauge, with some of the world's widest trams, and indeed the widest in Europe (European trams are generally narrower than European buses and trains and also tramcars elsewhere such as America and Australia).

Overcoming a break of gauge

Where trains encounter a different gauge (a break of gauge), such as at the Spanish-French border or the Russian-Chinese one, the traditional solution has always been transshipment — transferring passengers and freight to cars on the other system. This is obviously far from optimal, and a number of more efficient schemes have been devised. One common one is to build cars to the smaller of the two systems' loading gauges with bogies that are easily removed and replaced, with switching of the bogies at an interchange location on the border. This still takes a few minutes per car, but remains quicker than transshipment. A more modern and sophisticated method is to have multigauge bogies whose wheels can be moved inward and outward. Normally they are locked in place, but special equipment at the border unlocks the wheels and pushes them inward or outward to the new gauge, relocking the wheels when done. This can be done as the train moves slowly over special equipment.

When transhipping from one gauge to another, chances are that the quantity of rolling stock on each gauge is unbalanced, leading to more idle rolling stock on one gauge than other.

In some cases, breaks of gauge are avoided by installing dual gauge track, either permanently or as part of a changeover process to a single gauge. In other cases (in Spain) variable gauge axles are used.

Broader gauges

Some applications for railways require broader gauges, including: These applications might use double track of the country's usual gauge to provide the necessary stability and axle load. These applications may also use much heavier than normal rails, the heaviest rails for actual trains being about 70 kg/m.

See also

  • External links

    Gauge may refer to:

    Measurements

    "Gauger" vs. "Gage": Generally speaking, a "gauge" is measuring device that has a needle or other indicator, a "gage" does not, e.g. pin gages, feeler gages, check fixtures, etc.
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    standard gauge of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8½ in), allowing inter-connectivity and the inter-operability of trains. Currently 60% of the world's railway lines are built to this gauge. It is also named Stephenson gauge after George Stephenson.
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    Scotch gauge was the name given to a 4 ft 6 in (1384 mm) rail gauge, the distance between the inner sides of the rails, that was adopted by early 19th century railways mainly in the Lanarkshire area of Scotland.
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    narrow gauge railway (or narrow gauge railroad) is a railway that has a track gauge narrower than the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of 3 ft 6 in (1067 mm) or less.
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    Dual-gauge or mixed-gauge railway is a special configuration of railway track, allowing trains of different gauges to use the same track. Generally dual-gauge railway consists of three rails, rather than the standard two rails.
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    break-of-gauge is where a line of one gauge meets a line of a different gauge. Trains and rolling stock cannot run through without some form of conversion between gauges, and freight and passengers must otherwise be transloaded.
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    Rail tracks are used on railways (or railroads), which, together with railroad switches (or points), guide trains without the need for steering. Tracks consist of two parallel steel rails, which are laid upon sleepers (or cross ties) that are embedded in ballast to form the
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    Tramway track is used on tramways or light rail operations, which, together with points guide trams, streetcars or light rail vehicles without the need for steering. Grooved rails (or girder rails) are often used in order to make street running feasible.
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    Rail gauge
    Broad gauge
    Standard gauge
    Scotch gauge
    Narrow gauge
    Dual gauge
    Break-of-gauge
    Rail tracks
    Tramway track
    List of rail gauges
    edit

    Broad gauge railways, by gauge and country


    Gauge Country Notes
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    Rail transport is the transport of passengers and goods by means of wheeled vehicles specially designed to run along railways or railroads. Rail transport is part of the logistics chain, which facilitates the international trading and economic growth in most countries.
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    This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
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    standard gauge of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8½ in), allowing inter-connectivity and the inter-operability of trains. Currently 60% of the world's railway lines are built to this gauge. It is also named Stephenson gauge after George Stephenson.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    1 foot =
    SI units
    0 m 0 mm
    US customary / Imperial units
    0 yd 0 in
    A foot (plural: feet or foot;[1] symbol or abbreviation: ft or, sometimes,
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    1 inch =
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    010−3 m 0 mm
    US customary / Imperial units
    010−3 ft 010−3 yd


    An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes,  
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    1 millimetre =
    SI units
    010−3 m 0 cm
    US customary / Imperial units
    010−3 ft 010−3 in
    The millimetre (American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm
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    Great Western Railway (GWR) was a British railway company and a notable example of civil engineering, linking London with the West Country, South West England and South Wales.
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    Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS (9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859) (IPA: [ˈɪzəmbɑ(ɹ)d ˈkɪŋdəm brʊˈnɛl]), was a British engineer.
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    Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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    Members 1377 (646 Commons, 731 Peers)
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    Ireland
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    Northwest of continental Europe with Great Britain to the east.

    Geography <nowiki/>
    Location Western Europe <nowiki />
    Archipelago
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    history of rail transport in Ireland began only a decade later than in Great Britain. By its peak in 1920, Ireland had 5,500 route kilometers. The current status is less than half that amount, with a large unserviced area around the border area between Northern Ireland and the
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    1 foot =
    SI units
    0 m 0 mm
    US customary / Imperial units
    0 yd 0 in
    A foot (plural: feet or foot;[1] symbol or abbreviation: ft or, sometimes,
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    1 inch =
    SI units
    010−3 m 0 mm
    US customary / Imperial units
    010−3 ft 010−3 yd


    An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes,  
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    1 millimetre =
    SI units
    010−3 m 0 cm
    US customary / Imperial units
    010−3 ft 010−3 in
    The millimetre (American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm
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