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Use of a narrow gauge permits some saving in space. In addition, narrow-gauge cars and locomotives are generally smaller, lighter, and less costly than those used on standard-gauge lines.

Disadvantages of a narrow gauge include the limitation on speed because of reduced lateral stability and limitations on the size of locomotives and cars.

The advent of modern high-capacity earth-moving machinery, developed mainly for highway construction, has made it economically feasible for many railroads to eliminate former adverse grades and curves through line changes.

Graders, bulldozers, and similar equipment make it possible to dig deeper cuts through hillsides and to make higher fills where necessary to smooth out the profile of the track.

Modern equipment has also helped to improve railroad roadbeds in other ways. Where the roadbed is unstable, for example, injecting concrete grout into the subgrade under pressure is a widely used technique.

In planning roadbed improvements, as well as in new construction, railroads have drawn on modern soil-engineering techniques. When track is laid on a completed roadbed, its foundation is ballast, usually of crushed rock, slag, or volcanic ash.

The sleepers, or crossties, to which the rails are fastened, are embedded in the ballast. This is tightly compacted or tamped around the sleepers to keep the track precisely leveled and aligned.

Efficient drainage of the ballast is critically important to prevent its destabilization. As an example of the parameters adopted for construction of a new high-speed line in Europe, in Germany the total width of a roadbed to carry two standard-gauge tracks averages about The tracks are laid so that their centres are 4.

The standard depth of ballast is 30 cm 12 inches , but it is packed to a depth of 50 cm 20 inches around the ends of the crossties or sleepers to ensure lateral stability.

In some situations where track maintenance is difficult, such as in some tunnels, or where drainage problems are acute , ballast and sleepers are replaced by continuous reinforced concrete support of the rails.

This system, known as slab track, maintains accurate track geometry without maintenance attention for much longer periods than ballasted track, but its reduced maintenance costs are offset by higher first and renewal costs.

In western Europe considerable stretches of new high-speed railroad have been and are being built alongside multilane intercity highways.

This simplifies location of the new railroad and minimizes its intrusion in rural landscape. Such sharing of alignment is feasible because tracks for the dedicated use of modern high-speed train-sets can be built with curves and gradients not far short of the most severe parameters tolerated in contemporary express highway construction.

The modern railroad rail has a flat bottom, and its cross section is much like an inverted T. An English engineer, Charles Vignoles, is credited with the invention of this design in the s.

A similar design also was developed by Robert L. Present-day rail is, in appearance, very similar to the early designs of Vignoles and Stevens.

Actually, however, it is a highly refined product in terms of both engineering and metallurgy. Much study and research have produced designs that minimize internal stresses under the weight of traffic and thus prolong rail life.

Sometimes the rail surface is hardened to reduce the wear of the rail under extremely heavy cars or on sharp curves.

After they have been rolled at the steel mills, rails are allowed to cool slowly in special boxes. This controlled cooling minimizes internal shatter cracks, which at one time were a major cause of broken rails in track.

In Europe a standard rail length of 30 metres 98 feet 5 inches is common. The weight of rail, for principal main-line use, is from about 55 kg per metre about pounds per yard to 65 kg per metre pounds per yard.

Railroads in the United States and Canada have used T-rails of hundreds of different cross sections. Many of these different sections are still in use, but there is a strong trend to standardizing on a few sections.

Most new rail in North America weighs The standard American rail section has a length of 12 metres 39 feet. Some ore mining railroads in Western Australia employ rail weighing about 68 kg per metre about pounds per yard.

One of the most important developments is the welding of standard rails into long lengths. This continuous welded rail results in a smoother track that requires less maintenance.

The rail is usually welded into lengths of between and metres yards and one-quarter mile. Once laid in track, these quarter-mile lengths are often welded together in turn to form rails several miles long without a break.

Welded rail was tried for the first time in in the United States. It was not until the s, however, that railroads turned to welded rail in earnest.

Controlling the temperature expansion of long welded rails proved not so difficult as first thought. It was found that the problem could be minimized by extensive anchorage of the rails to the sleepers or ties to prevent them from moving when the temperature changes, by the use of a heavy ballast section, and by heating the rails before laying to a temperature close to the mean temperature prevailing in the particular locality.

Whether in standard or long welded lengths, rails are joined to each other and kept in alignment by fishplates or joint bars. The offset-head spike is the least expensive way of fastening the rails to wooden crossties, but several different types of screw spikes and clips are used.

The rails may be attached directly to wooden crossties, but except on minor lines it is standard practice to seat the rail in a tie plate that distributes the load over a wider area of the tie.

A screw or clip fitting must be used to attach rails to concrete ties. A pad of rubber or other resilient material is always used between the rail and a concrete tie.

Timber has been used for railroad sleepers or ties almost from the beginning, and it is still the most common material for this purpose.

The modern wood sleeper is treated with preservative chemical to improve its life. The cost of wood ties has risen steadily, creating interest in ties of other materials.

Steel ties have been used in certain European, African, and Asian countries. Concrete ties, usually reinforced with steel rods or wires, or ties consisting of concrete blocks joined by steel spacing bars are the popular alternative to wooden ties.

A combination of concrete ties and long welded rails produces an exceptionally solid and smooth-riding form of track. Concrete ties have been standardized for the main lines of most European railroads and in Japan.

Use of concrete elsewhere is increasing—although in North America, which has no European- or Asian-style high-speed rail and where hardwood for traditional crossties is cheap, there is no widespread use.

Modern machinery enables a small group of workers to maintain a relatively long stretch of railroad track. Machines are available to do all the necessary track maintenance tasks: Some machines are equipped to perform more than one task—for example, ballast tamping combined with track lining and leveling.

Mechanized equipment also can renew rail, either in conventional bolted lengths or with long welded lengths; a modern machine of this type has built-in devices to lift and pass the old rail to flatcars at its rear and to bring forward and deposit new rail, so that it dispenses with separate crane vehicles.

Complete sections of track—rails and crossties—may be prefabricated and laid in the track by mechanical means. Rail-grinding machines run over the track to even out irregularities in the rail surface.

Track-measurement cars, under their own power or coupled into regular trains, can record all aspects of track alignment and riding quality on moving charts, so that maintenance forces can pinpoint the specific locations needing corrective work.

Detector cars move over the main-line tracks at intervals with electronic-inspection apparatus to locate any internal flaws in the rails. The mechanization of track maintenance after World War II has constituted a technologic revolution comparable to the development of the diesel locomotive and electrification.

In Europe in particular, highly sophisticated maintenance machines have come into use. Railroad fixed plant consists of much more than the track.

Railroad civil-engineering forces also are concerned with constructing and maintaining thousands of buildings, ranging from small sheds to huge passenger terminals.

The designer of a railroad bridge must allow for forces that result from the concentrated impact that occurs as a train moves onto the bridge; the pounding of wheels, the sidesway of the train, and the drag or push effect as a train is braked or started on a bridge.

These factors mean that a railroad bridge must be of heavier construction than a highway bridge of equal length. As axle loadings become heavier and train speeds higher, bridges need to be further strengthened.

Another major objective in modern railroad-bridge construction is the need to minimize maintenance costs. The use of weathering steel, which needs no painting, all-welded construction, and permanent walkways for maintenance personnel contribute to this end.

In the advanced countries there has been a widespread trend toward reinforced concrete structures. Railroad buildings have become fewer and more functional.

With paved highways running almost everywhere in the developed countries, it has become more economical to concentrate both freight and passenger operations at fewer stations that are strategically sited and have good highway access.

Provision for intermodal traffic exchange has become increasingly important. Many existing stations have had their surroundings reorganized to provide these facilities.

Many new local stations have been built to serve the spread of commuter and rapid-transit rail systems. However, except on high-speed intercity lines, or at some airports, few sizable city stations have been newly constructed.

On the other hand, there has been major reconstruction, updating, and expansion of facilities within the historic fabric of many major city stations in western Europe and in Asia.

Particularly in Germany one objective of this rebuilding has been to create easy interchange between ground-level platforms and new metro line platforms below ground.

Reconstructed German city stations are also unparalleled for their range of shopping, snack-bar, and restaurant facilities. Another reason for reconstruction has been special provision for new high-speed train services; examples are the Atocha, Nord, and Waterloo termini in Madrid, Paris, and London, respectively.

Diesel and electric locomotives require few maintenance shops as compared with steam locomotives. Car shops, too, have been reduced in number and made more efficient through the use of process-line techniques.

It is usually more efficient to construct new shop buildings rather than convert old ones to handle modern types of rolling stock. Although very expensive, tunneling provides the most economical means for railroads to traverse mountainous terrain, to gain access to the heart of a crowded city, or, more recently in Japan and Europe, to project a railway across a maritime strait below its seabed.

Railroad tunnels, however, confront the construction engineer with some unique problems, particularly in the ventilation of very long bores and in mastery of difficult geologic conditions.

We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions.

Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed.

Thomas Clark Shedd James E. Vance Geoffrey Freeman Allen. Page 1 of 4. Next page Railroad operations and control. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Railroad systems, first developed to haul coal from mines, were developed for intercity transport during the s; the first commercial line opened between Liverpool and Manchester in During the s local rail networks fanned out in most western European countries, and national systems were….

By more than 5, miles 8, km of steel track had been completed by British railroad companies, and by…. Work on the Baltimore and Ohio line, the first railroad in the United States, was begun in , and a great burst of….

The railway age may be said to have begun in , when the line from Manchester to Liverpool, the…. The main period of railway construction was about the time of unification, from until The heavy costs involved in laying down the infrastructure caused the government to sell off its stake in By this time the networks serving Milan, Genoa, and Turin in the north were….

Railway bridges In bridge: Highways and railroads relays In relay traffic control In traffic control: Rail traffic control tunnel construction In tunnels and underground excavations: For the youngest ones there are jigsaw puzzles, as well as a number of other fascinating and simple railroad games.

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When you come to Railway Valley for the first time, you may feel embarrassed by a vast number of different Train Games with specific rules.

To choose a game best corresponding to your requirements, it is recommended to look carefully through the instructions including the methods of successful playing and the details of the game.

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All trunk railways in China are under the administration of the Ministry of Railways. After the first crude beginnings, railroad-car design took divergent courses in North America and Europe, because of differing economic conditions and technological developments.

Early cars on both continents were largely of two-axle design, but passenger-car builders soon began constructing cars with three and then four axles, the latter arranged in two four-wheel swivel trucks , or bogies.

The trucks resulted in smoother riding qualities and also spread the weight of heavy vehicles over more axles. Throughout the world the great majority of freight cars for all rail gauges are built with four axles, divided between two trucks.

Because of the layout constraints of some freight terminals, several European railroads still purchase a proportion of two-axle vehicles, but these have a much longer wheelbase and hence a considerably larger load capacity than similar cars in the past.

Concern to maximize payload capacity in relation to tare vehicle weight has led to U. In this system a car comprises several frames or bodies usually not more than five , which, where they adjoin, are permanently coupled and mounted on a single truck.

One type of vehicle that is virtually extinct is the caboose, or brake-van. Before World War II , freight cars consisted almost entirely of four basic types: Since then, railroads and car builders have developed a wide range of car types designed specifically for the ideal handling and competitive transport of individual goods or commodities.

In Europe and North America, where highway competition demands faster rail movement of time-sensitive freight, cars for such traffic as perishable goods, high-value merchandise, and containers are designed to run at km 75 miles per hour.

The French and German railways both operate some selected merchandise and intermodal trains at up to km miles per hour to achieve overnight delivery between centres up to about 1, km miles apart.

In Europe and North America open cars for bulk mineral transport are generally designed for rapid discharge, either by being bodily rotated or through power-operated doors in the floor or lower sides of their hopper bodies.

In Europe, where tighter clearances necessitate smaller body dimensions and track is not designed for axle loadings as high as those accepted in North America, the payload capacity of similar four-axle cars is between 60 and 65 tons.

High-sided open cars also are built with fully retractable sliding roofs, either metal or canvas, to facilitate overhead loading and discharge of cargoes needing protection in transit.

In a variant of this concept for the transport of steel coil in particular, the sidewalls and roof are in two or more separate, integral , and overlapping assemblies; these can be slid over or under each other for loading or discharge of one section of the vehicle without exposing the remainder of the load.

Fully covered hopper cars or tank cars are available with pressure discharge for bulk movement of a variety of powders and solids.

Tank cars are also purpose-designed for safe transport of a wide range of hazardous fluids. Because of the rapid growth of intermodal transport in North America, boxcar design has seen fewer changes there than in western Europe.

For ease of mechanized loading of palletized freight, modern European boxcars are built with their entire sidewalls divided into sliding and overlapping doors.

Another option is to replace the sidewalls with a fully retractable, material-covered framework, so that the interior of the vehicle can be wholly opened up for loading or discharge.

A typical North American boxcar for bulky but comparatively light cargo may have a load-area volume of up to cubic metres 10, cubic feet ; that of a modern four-axle European boxcar is Boxcars are often fitted internally with movable partitions or other special fittings to brace loads such as products in sacks.

Vehicles for transport of fragile merchandise have cushioned draft gear that absorbs any shocks sustained by the cars in train or yard shunting movement.

As distances from manufacturing plant to dealer increase—and in many cases these involve international transits—the security and economy offered by the railroad as a bulk transporter of finished autos have become more appreciated.

In North America vertical clearances allow automobiles to be carried in triple-deck freight cars, but in Europe the limit is double-deck.

Retractable flaps enable each deck of adjoining cars to be connected to form drive-through roadways on both levels for loading and discharge of an auto-transporter train.

Such cars also are used for a type of service for motorists that is widespread in Europe but confined to one route in the United States: These are mostly operated between ports or inland cities and vacation areas in the peak season.

Special-purpose cars also have been developed for inter-plant movement of automobile components, including engines and body assemblies, and for regular delivery of spare parts to distribution areas.

The first passenger cars were simply road coaches with flanged wheels. Almost from the beginning, railroads in the United States began to use longer, eight-wheel cars riding on two four-wheel trucks.

In Britain and Europe , however, cars with more than six wheels were not introduced until the s. Modern cars, for both local and long-distance service, have an entrance at one or both ends of the car.

Commuter-service cars also have additional centre doors. Flexible connections between cars give passengers access to any car of a moving train, except when the coupling together of self-powered, reversible train-sets for multiple-unit operation makes passenger communication between one train-set and another impossible, because there is a driving cab at the extremity of each unit.

In the United States modern passenger cars are usually 25 metres 85 feet long. In continental Europe the standard length of cars for conventional locomotive-hauled main-line service is now about 26 metres 86 feet 7 inches , but the cars of some high-speed train-sets are shorter, as are those of many urban transport multiple-unit cars and of railcars for secondary local services.

Modern British cars are roughly The sharper curves of narrow-gauge railroads generally demand shorter length.

Car bodies are still mostly of steel, but use of aluminum is increasing, especially for passenger cars and for high-speed train cars.

Modular construction techniques, simplifying the adaptation of a car body to different interior layouts and furniture, has encouraged railroads to standardize basic car structures for a variety of service requirements.

For this reason, construction of small numbers of special-purpose cars demanding nonstandard bodies is not favoured; an example is the dome observation car, with a raised, glass roof section, popular in North America.

Modern truck design is the product of lengthy research into the interaction of wheel and rail, and into suspension systems, with the dual objectives of stable ride quality and minimum wear of track and wheel sets, especially at very high speed.

The trucks of many modern cars have air suspension or a combination of air and metal springing. Efficient soundproofing and insulation of car interiors from external noise and undesirable climatic conditions have become a major concern, particularly because of more widespread air-conditioning of cars.

Very-high-speed train-sets must have their entire interior, including intercar gangways, externally sealed to prevent passenger discomfort from air pressure changes when they thread tunnels.

There are two principal types of continuous train braking systems: Modern passenger cars—and some freight cars—have disc brakes instead of wheel-tread shoes.

Wheel sets of cars operating at km miles per hour or more are fitted with devices to prevent wheel slip under heavy braking. On European cars designed for operation at km miles per hour or more, and on Japanese Shinkansen train-sets, disc braking of wheel sets is supplemented by fitting electromagnetic track brakes to car trucks.

Activated at the start of deceleration from high speed, these retard by the frictional resistance generated when bar magnets are lowered into contact with the rails.

Some Shinkansen train-sets have eddy current instead of electromagnetic track brakes. The eddy-current brake makes no contact with the rail so is not subject to frictional wear and is more powerful, but it sets up strong electromagnetic fields that require reinforced immunization of signaling circuitry.

Also, where operation of trains so equipped is intensive, there is a risk that eddy-current braking might heat rails to a degree that could cause them to deform.

The permissible maximum speed of a passenger train through curves is the level beyond which a railroad considers passengers will suffer unacceptable centrifugal force; the limit beyond which derailment becomes a risk is considerably higher.

On a line built for exclusive use of high-speed trains, curved track can be canted, or superelevated, to a degree specifically suited to those trains.

Consequently, on a dedicated high-speed passenger line, the extra degree of superelevation can raise quite significantly the curving speed possible without discomforting passengers from the effects of centrifugal force.

There are two types of automatic body-tilting system. A passive system is more complex. It reacts to track curvature: The preferred interior layout of seating cars throughout the world is the open saloon or parlor car , with the seats in bays on either side of a central aisle.

This arrangement maximizes passenger capacity per car. Density of seating is less in an intercity car than in a short-haul commuter service car; the cars of some heavily used urban rapid-transit railroads, such as those of Japanese cities and Hong Kong , have minimal seating to maximize standing room.

European cars of segregated six- or eight-seat compartments served by a corridor on one side of the car survive in considerable numbers. Marketing concern to tailor accommodation to the needs of specific passenger groups, such as businesspeople and families, has led to German production of some cars combining saloon and compartment sections and to French semi-compartment enclosure of the seating bays on one side of the first-class cars in TGV train-sets.

The great majority of cars in short-haul commuter service are still single-deck, but to maximize seating capacity there is an increasing use of double-deck cars for such operations in North America, Europe, and Australia.

North American operators have tended to prefer a design that limits the upper level to a gallery along each side wall, but in most double-deck cars the upper level is wholly floor-separated from the lower.

A four-car, double-deck electric multiple-unit of the Paris commuter network in France is 98 metres feet long and can seat passengers.

Double-deck cars, suitably furnished, are found in long-haul intercity operation by Amtrak in the United States and in some Japanese Shinkansen train-sets.

These cars exemplify modern weight-saving construction. French National Railways insists on a static load limit of 17, kg 37, pounds on any axle of a vehicle traveling its high-speed lines.

The French also prefer to articulate adjoining, nonpowered cars of their TGV train-sets over a single two-axle truck. Consequently, each double-deck car, roughly 20 metres 65 feet long and providing up to 96 comfortable seats, must weigh no more than 34, kg 74, pounds.

Because of its high operating costs, particularly in terms of staff, dining or restaurant car service of main meals entirely prepared and cooked in an on-train kitchen has been greatly reduced since World War II.

Full meal service is widely available on intercity trains, but many railroads have switched to airline methods of wholly or partly preparing dishes in depots on the ground and finishing them for service in on-train galleys or small-size kitchens.

This change is sometimes accompanied by substitution of at-seat service in place of a dining car, which has lost favour because its seats earn no fare revenue.

At the same time, there has been a considerable increase in buffet counters for service of light snacks and drinks and also through-train trolley service of light refreshments.

Most European railroads franchise their on-train catering services to specialist companies. A crude car with bedding provision was operated in the United States as early as , but sleeping cars with enclosed bedrooms did not appear until the last quarter of the 19th century.

The compartments of most modern sleeping cars have, against one wall only, normal seating that is convertible to one bed; one or two additional beds are on hinged bases that are folded into the opposite compartment wall when not in use.

Rooms in modern European cars are of common size, the price of use depending on the number of beds to be occupied. Ideally, a railroad should be built in a straight line, over level ground, between large centres of trade and travel.

In practice, this ideal is rarely approached. The location engineer, faced with the terrain to be traversed , must balance the cost of construction against annual maintenance and operating costs, as well as against the probable traffic volume and profit.

Thus, in areas of dense population and heavy industrial activities, the railroads were generally built for heavy duty, with minimum grades and curvature, heavy bridges, and perhaps multiple tracks.

Examples include most of the main-line railroads of Britain and the European continent. In North and South America and elsewhere the country was sparsely settled, and the railroads had to be built at minimal costs.

Thus, the lines were of lighter construction, with sharper grades and curves. As traffic grew, main routes were improved to increase their capacity and to reduce operating costs.

The gauge , or distance between the inside faces of the running rails, can affect the cost of building and equipping a railroad.

However, a considerable mileage of lines with narrower gauges has been constructed, mainly in undeveloped and sparsely settled countries.

Use of a narrow gauge permits some saving in space. In addition, narrow-gauge cars and locomotives are generally smaller, lighter, and less costly than those used on standard-gauge lines.

Disadvantages of a narrow gauge include the limitation on speed because of reduced lateral stability and limitations on the size of locomotives and cars.

The advent of modern high-capacity earth-moving machinery, developed mainly for highway construction, has made it economically feasible for many railroads to eliminate former adverse grades and curves through line changes.

Graders, bulldozers, and similar equipment make it possible to dig deeper cuts through hillsides and to make higher fills where necessary to smooth out the profile of the track.

Modern equipment has also helped to improve railroad roadbeds in other ways. Where the roadbed is unstable, for example, injecting concrete grout into the subgrade under pressure is a widely used technique.

In planning roadbed improvements, as well as in new construction, railroads have drawn on modern soil-engineering techniques. When track is laid on a completed roadbed, its foundation is ballast, usually of crushed rock, slag, or volcanic ash.

The sleepers, or crossties, to which the rails are fastened, are embedded in the ballast. This is tightly compacted or tamped around the sleepers to keep the track precisely leveled and aligned.

Efficient drainage of the ballast is critically important to prevent its destabilization. As an example of the parameters adopted for construction of a new high-speed line in Europe, in Germany the total width of a roadbed to carry two standard-gauge tracks averages about The tracks are laid so that their centres are 4.

The standard depth of ballast is 30 cm 12 inches , but it is packed to a depth of 50 cm 20 inches around the ends of the crossties or sleepers to ensure lateral stability.

In some situations where track maintenance is difficult, such as in some tunnels, or where drainage problems are acute , ballast and sleepers are replaced by continuous reinforced concrete support of the rails.

This system, known as slab track, maintains accurate track geometry without maintenance attention for much longer periods than ballasted track, but its reduced maintenance costs are offset by higher first and renewal costs.

In western Europe considerable stretches of new high-speed railroad have been and are being built alongside multilane intercity highways.

Finally at Slug Island the Turnouts can be a frustration on a model railroad layout. Cars can derail from mechanical problems and engines can stall from electrical problems.

In this video, Leone shows how to help solve these stalling issues. Tony Koester talks micro-slide switches in this video.

Tony uses a single pull double throw slide switch for his railroads. The microswitch has three pulls or wires; the center pull where the power is going out, and the outer two pulls where the power is coming in.

On a turnout on a layout, the frogger. When building a model railroad layout, a modeler must consider the doorways in the space. Some modelers can design the track around doorways to not block.

Layout Designer Doug Gurin gives some considerations when planning for realistic scenery on a layout in this video.

For a layout to depict a certain part of the country, scenery planning should start immediately. Gurin suggests starting by collecting prototype images of signature landscape features of the area being modeled.

Model road layouts add interest and realism to a model railroad. Just like in real life, roads can almost always be found near a railroad track. Leone starts by building a gravel road.

If your layout is like most modelers, then there are tons of wires underneath it, making it hard to find the one you are looking for.

He mounts inexpensive shower curtain hooks. Josh Clark has a quick video on cleaning locomotive wheels. He also recommends cleaning locomotive wheels on occasion.

This could be every once in awhile depending on how often they are run. His method is quick an easy,.

Modeler Josh Clark shows how to renumber a factory painted locomotive in this video. The whole thing can be repainted, but Josh shows a quicker easier method that requires simply removing the numbers.

The destination for the most extensive collection of model railroad how-to videos, techniques, insight and inspiration. Your guide is Allen Keller — master model railroad builder and industry pioneer.

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