Student Article #10: For the Joy of Sharing

Rail Gauges

By Gurubaran Magesh
Class 4 Student, Bangalore

Foreword by Venkat
An octogenarian student of mine recently told that age does not matter to be a guru. Now, I have the fortune to say the same thing to a young 4th grade boy who is also literally Guru by name! Thank you dear Guru for the enlightening information on rail gauges which I never knew before your sweet overview on the same. Keep up the good work of researching and studying!

Explore the coverage on railway line gauges in depth and breadth as Gurubaran provides insights on the four major gauges neatly summarized with a global view on the usages!

Gurubaran Magesh is a 4th grader living in Bengaluru. He has strong interests in Geography (mainly political), Maps and Railways and Urban planning.

Rail Gauges

When you go on a train you may wonder how the train stays firmly on the rails. It does so because the inner distance between 2 rails is kept the same through out the track with millimeter accuracy. This inner distance is called Rail Gauge. It also determines the size of your train coach / car.

There are quite a few rail gauges out there, but I’m going to focus on the four main ones. (Everything seems to have four main ones, like Vedas, directions, oceans etc.)

Indian Gauge or Broad Gauge – 1676 mm 

Broad gauge is the most commonly used gauge in India and is also the widest gauge. It is also called as ProvincialPortland, or Texas gauge in North America, Trocha Ancha (which is Spanish for Broad Gauge) in Argentina. It is also used in Pakistan, Western Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Chile and BART metro in San Francisco.

Standard Gauge – 1435 mm

Standard Gauge is the oldest and most commonly used gauge in the world.  In India, it is used only in metro systems. It is also called the Stephenson Gauge (named after George Stephenson, who invented it). Its other names are InternationalNormalUIC,  European Gauge in Europe and SGR in East Africa. It is used in 77 countries which if I list will make this post toooooooooo long!!!

Metre Gauge – 1000 mm

Metre Gauge was mainly used by European colonial powers. It was also heavily used in India in the last century. Now it has been replaced by Broad Gauge. Currently, large Metre Gauge networks remain only in Switzerland, Northern Spain, some European towns with trams and some light metro systems. Countries like Germany, France and Belgium closed down their Metre Gauge networks in the 19th century.

Narrow Gauge – 600 – 1067 mm

Narrow Gauge is the narrowest of the gauges with measurements varying. It is often used in mountainous terrain to turn at tighter curves. It’s also cheaper then other gauges. Narrow Gauge is used in New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Australian states of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Gauntlet Tracks

If you have bought trains from different countries and found that they are all designed for different gauges, you can’t afford to put railway lines for each gauge. So just build a Gauntlet Tracks. 


Gauntlet tracks have more than three or more rails in the same track which enables trains of different gauges to run on the same track. This requires only slightly more width than a single track. Nice idea right!

If you are planning to build a railway line, better go with one of the main four gauges. Or you can do better by creating a new one and naming it after me, “The Guru Gauge” !!!


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Mekhala
Mekhala
May 9, 2022 3:04 pm

Very good information..keep rocking

J Vaidhinathanj
J Vaidhinathanj
May 12, 2022 8:49 pm

Congrats to Gurubaran Magesh. Very good information.Gauntlet Gauge is really news to me. I know the dispute between Delhi Metroman Sreedaran and the Railway Board officials about the Metro Gauge & Broad Gauge and he succeeded at last. Excellent write up. Keep it up.