Broad gauge
Overview
 

Broad-gauge railways use a track gauge (distance between the rails) greater than the standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 of .
For list see: List of broad gauges, by gauge and country
In Britain the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

, pioneered broad gauge from 1838 with a gauge of , and retained this gauge until 1892. A number of harbours also used railways of this gauge for construction and maintenance.
Encyclopedia

Broad-gauge railways use a track gauge (distance between the rails) greater than the standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 of .

List

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

History

In Britain the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

, pioneered broad gauge from 1838 with a gauge of , and retained this gauge until 1892. A number of harbours also used railways of this gauge for construction and maintenance. These included Portland Harbour
Portland Harbour
Portland Harbour is located beside the Isle of Portland, off Dorset, on the south coast of England. It is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. Grid reference: .-History:...

 and Holyhead
Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

 Breakwater, which used a locomotive for working sidings. As it was not connected to the national network, this broad-gauge operation continued until the locomotive wore out in 1913.

It became apparent that standardization
Standardization
Standardization is the process of developing and implementing technical standards.The goals of standardization can be to help with independence of single suppliers , compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, or quality....

 on a single gauge throughout a rail transport system was advantageous. Rolling stock did not need to match the gauge exactly; a difference of a few millimeters could be coped with, so that interoperability on systems with gauges only slightly different was possible.

While the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 was initially prepared to authorise lines built to the broad gauge of , it was eventually rejected by the Gauge Commission in favour of all railways in the British Isles being built to standard gauge of , this being the gauge with the highest route-mileage. Ireland, using the same criteria, was allocated a different standard gauge, Irish gauge
Irish gauge
Irish gauge railways use a track gauge of . It is used in* Ireland * Australia where it is also known as Victorian Broad Gauge* Brazil where it is also known as Bitola larga no Brasil....

. Broad-gauge lines in Britain were gradually converted
Gauge conversion
In rail transport, gauge conversion is the process of converting a railway from one rail gauge to another, through the alteration of the railway tracks...

 to dual gauge
Dual gauge
A dual-gauge or mixed-gauge railway has railway track that allows trains of different gauges to use the same track. Generally, a dual-gauge railway consists of three rails, rather than the standard two rails. The two outer rails give the wider gauge, while one of the outer rails and the inner rail...

 or standard gauge from 1864, and finally the last of Brunel's broad gauge was converted over a single weekend in 1892.

Many countries have broad-gauge railways. Ireland (see History of rail transport in Ireland
History of rail transport in Ireland
The history of rail transport in Ireland began only a decade later than that of Great Britain. By its peak in 1920, Ireland counted 5,500 route kilometers...

) and some parts of Australia (see History of rail transport in Australia
History of rail transport in Australia
Following the British model, Australians generally assumed in the 1850s that railways would be built by the private sector . Private companies built railways in the then colonies of Victoria, opened in 1854, and New South Wales, where the company was taken-over by the government before completion...

) and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 have a gauge of , but Luas
Luas
Luas , also promoted in the development stage as the Dublin Light Rail System, is a tram or light rail system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since...

, the Dublin light rail system, is built to standard gauge. Russia and the other former Soviet Republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

s use a (originally ) gauge while Finland continues to use the gauge inherited from Imperial Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 (the two standards are close enough to allow full interoperability between Finland and Russia).

In 1839 the Netherlands started its railway system with two broad-gauge railways. The chosen gauge was after a visit of engineers to England and a large consignment of Brunel's lighter bridge rail removed from his "Bath Road" was imported for the construction. This was applied between 1839 and 1866 by the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij
Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij
The Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij or HSM was the first railway company in the Netherlands founded on 8 August 1837 as a private company, starting operation in 1839 with a line between Amsterdam and Haarlem...

 (HSM) for its Amsterdam-The Hague-Rotterdam line and between 1842 and 1855, firstly by the Dutch state, but soon by the Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij, for its Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem line. But the neighboring countries Prussia and Belgium already used standard gauge, so the two companies had to regauge their first lines. In 1855, NRS regauged its line and shortly afterwards connected to the Prussian railways. The HSM followed in 1866. There are replicas of one broad-gauge 2-2-2 locomotive (De Arend
Arend
Arend was one of the two first steam locomotives in the Netherlands. It was a 2-2-2 Patentee type built in England by R. B. Longridge and Company of Bedlington, Northumberland. On 20 September 1839, together with the Snelheid , it hauled the first train between Amsterdam and Haarlem...

) and three carriages in the Dutch Railway Museum
Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum
The Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum is the Dutch national railway museum. It was established in 1927; since 1954 it has been housed in the "Maliebaan station", a former station in Utrecht.- History :...

 in Utrecht. These replicas were built for the 100th anniversary of the Dutch Railways in 1938–39.

The Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 have received funding from the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 to build new lines with standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

. Portugal and the Spanish Renfe
RENFE
Renfe Operadora is the state-owned company which operates freight and passenger trains on the 1668-mm "Iberian gauge" and 1435-mm "European gauge" networks of the Spanish national railway infrastructure company ADIF .- History :The name RENFE is derived from that of the former Spanish National...

system use a gauge of called "Ancho Ibérico" in Spanish or "Bitola Ibérica" in Portuguese (see Iberian gauge
Iberian gauge
Iberian gauge is the name given to the track gauge most extensively used by the railways of Spain and Portugal: namely ....

 & Rail gauge); there are plans to convert to standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

. In India, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, a gauge of is widespread. This is also used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on of track with 44 stations in four counties...

 (BART) system of the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

. In Toronto, Canada the gauge for TTC
Toronto Transit Commission
-Island Ferry:The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 until 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department. Since 1998, the ferry service is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation.-Gray Coach:...

 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 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 initially not obvious to the industry. The standardization movement was gradual; over time the value of a proprietary gauge diminished, being replaced by the idea of charging money for equipment used on other railroad lines.

The use of a non-standard gauge precludes interoperability of rolling stock on railway networks. On the GWR the gauge was supposed to allow high speed, but the company had difficulty with locomotive design in the early years, losing much of the advantage, and rapid advances in permanent way
Permanent way
The permanent way is the elements of railway lines: generally the pairs of rails typically laid on the sleepers embedded in ballast, intended to carry the ordinary trains of a railway...

 and suspension technology allowed standard-gauge speeds to approach broad-gauge speeds within a decade or two. On the and gauges, the extra width allowed bigger inside cylinders and greater power, a problem solvable by using outside cylinders and higher steam pressure on standard gauge. In the event, the most powerful engines on standard gauge in North America and Scandinavia far exceeded the power of any broad-gauge locomotive.

Canada

The first railway in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad
Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad
The Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad was a historic railway in Lower Canada, the first Canadian public railway and one of the first railways built in British North America.-Origin:...

, was built in 1835-36 to gauge, setting the standard for Britain's colonies for several decades. Today, this is commonly known as Indian gauge
Indian gauge
Indian gauge is a track gauge commonly used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Chile. It is also the gauge that is used on BART , in northern California.- Scotland :...

, but in 1851 the broad gauge was officially adopted as the standard gauge for the Province of Canada, becoming known as the Provincial gauge, and government subsidies were unavailable for railways that chose other gauges. However, this caused problems in interchanging freight cars with northern United States railroads, most of which were built to standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 or a gauge similar to it. In the 1870s, mainly between 1872 and 1874, Canadian broad-gauge lines were changed
Gauge conversion
In rail transport, gauge conversion is the process of converting a railway from one rail gauge to another, through the alteration of the railway tracks...

 to standard gauge to facilitate interchange and the exchange of rolling stock with American railroads. Today, all Canadian freight railways are standard-gauge, with only the Toronto Transit Commission
Toronto Transit Commission
-Island Ferry:The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 until 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department. Since 1998, the ferry service is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation.-Gray Coach:...

 operating the Toronto streetcar system
Toronto streetcar system
The Toronto streetcar system comprises eleven streetcar routes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission , and is the largest such system in the Americas in terms of ridership, number of cars, and track length. The network is concentrated primarily in downtown and in...

 and three of the Toronto subway
Toronto subway and RT
The Toronto subway and RT is a rapid transit system in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, consisting of both underground and elevated railway lines, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission . It was Canada's first completed subway system, with the first line being built under Yonge Street, which opened in...

 lines on its own unique gauge of .

South Asia

The British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 in India adopted 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
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 winds. Attempts to economise on the cost of construction led to the adoption of gauge and then and narrow gauges for many secondary and feeder lines, particularly in mountainous terrain.

However, broad gauge remained the most prevalent gauge across the Indian Subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, reaching right across from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 into Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 to Burma and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. After independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

, the Indian Railways
Indian Railways
Indian Railways , abbreviated as IR , is a departmental undertaking of Government of India, which owns and operates most of India's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India....

 adopted as the standard Indian gauge, and began Project Unigauge
Project Unigauge
Project Unigauge is an ongoing exercise by Indian Railways to standardise most of the rail gauges in India at 1676 mm broad gauge....

 to convert metre-gauge and narrow-gauge lines to this gauge. Some of the newer specialized rail projects in India, such as the Konkan Railway
Konkan Railway
The Konkan Railway is a railway line which runs along the Konkan coast of India. It was constructed and is operated by the Konkan Railway Corporation...

 and the Delhi Metro
Delhi Metro
Delhi Metro is a rapid transit system serving Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region of India. It is one of the largest metro networks in the world. The network consists of six lines with a total length of with 142 stations of which 35 are underground...

, use Indian gauge. There was a move to use standard gauge for the Delhi Metro, but the decision was made to use Indian gauge to maintain compatibility with the rest of the rail network. The decision was later changed and several new lines, including the Airport Express Line, use standard gauge. The new Bangalore Metro
Bangalore Metro
Namma Metro , also known as Bangalore Metro , is a mass-transit rail system for the city of Bangalore, Karnataka, India. The agency responsible for its implementation is the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd . The first stretch between Baiyyappanahalli to M.G. Road was inaugurated on October...

, Mumbai Metro
Mumbai Metro
The Mumbai Metro is a rapid transit system being built in Mumbai, India's largest city. The system is designed to reduce the rapidly-growing city's congestion problems, and will be built in three phases over a 15-year period, with overall completion expected in 2021...

, and Hyderabad Metro systems, all in planning or under construction , will be on standard gauge.

Because of the broad gauge, trains in India can carry standard shipping containers double-stacked
Double-stack rail transport
Double-stack rail transport is a form of Intermodal freight transport where intermodal containers are stacked two high on railroad cars. Introduced in North America in 1984, double stack has become increasingly common, being used for nearly 70% of United States intermodal shipments...

 on standard flatcar
Flatcar
A flatcar is a piece of railroad or railway rolling stock that consists of an open, flat deck on four or six wheels or a pair of trucks or bogies . The deck of the car can be wood or steel, and the sides of the deck can include pockets for stakes or tie-down points to secure loads...

s, which is more economical than single containers, but standard-gauge railways in North American and elsewhere must use special double-stack cars to lower the center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

 and reduce the loading gauge
Loading gauge
A loading gauge defines the maximum height and width for railway vehicles and their loads to ensure safe passage through bridges, tunnels and other structures...

.

Iberian gauge

As finally established, the Iberian gauge of is a compromise between the similar, but slightly different, gauges first adopted as respective national standards in Spain and Portugal in the mid-19th century. The main railway networks of Spain were initially constructed to a gauge of six Castilian feet. Those of Portugal were initially built in standard gauge, but by 1864 were all converted to a gauge of five Portuguese feet – close enough to allow interoperability in practice. The new high-speed network
High-speed rail
High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include for upgraded track and or faster for new track, whilst in the United States, the U.S...

 in Spain and Portugal uses standard gauge. The dual-gauge high-speed train RENFE Class 130
RENFE Class 130
The RENFE Class 130 or S-130 is a high speed dual gauge, dual voltage trainset consisting of eleven Talgo VII tilting coaches and two power cars...

 can change gauge at low speed without stopping.

Irish gauge

As part of the railway gauge standardisation considered by the United Kingdom Parliamentary Gauge Commission, Ireland was allocated its own gauge, Irish gauge . Ireland then had three gauges, and the new standard would be a fourth.

The Irish gauge of is used in Ireland and parts of Australia
South Australian Railways
South Australian Railways built and operated railways in South Australia from 1854 to the incorporation of its non-urban railways into the Australian National Railways Commission in 1975, together with the former Commonwealth Railways and the former Tasmanian Government Railways...

 and Brazil. A severe disadvantage of Irish Gauge in Australia was it was too close to standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 to allow safe and effective dual gauge with a third rail, such as between Victoria and New South Wales. There was endless argument about the impractibility of third rail, especially turnouts, even of the Brennan Switch.

Russian gauge

Russian gauge or CIS gauge is the second most widely used gauge in the world, and spans the whole of the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

/CIS
CIS
CIS usually refers to the Commonwealth of Independent States, a modern political entity consisting of eleven former Soviet Union republics.The acronym CIS may also refer to:-Organizations:...

 bloc including the Baltic states and Mongolia. Finland uses 1524 mm. The difference is clearly lower than the tolerance margin, so through running is feasible. Care must however be taken when servicing international trains because the wear profile of the wheels differs from that of trains that run on domestic tracks only.

The original standard of was approved on September 12, 1842 with re-standardisation to 1520 mm taking place during the 1960s.

United States

Ohio gauge redirects here

Originally, various gauges were used in the United States and Canada. Some railways, primarily in the northeast, used standard gauge; others used gauges ranging from to . Problems began as soon as lines began to meet and, in much of the north-eastern United States, standard gauge was adopted. Most Southern states used gauge. Following the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, trade between the South and North grew and the break of gauge became a major economic nuisance. Competitive pressures had forced all the Canadian railways to convert to standard gauge by 1880, and Illinois Central converted its south line to New Orleans to standard gauge in 1881, putting pressure on the southern railways.

In the early days of rail transport in the US, railroads tended to be built out of coastal cities into the hinterland
Hinterland
The hinterland is the land or district behind a coast or the shoreline of a river. Specifically, by the doctrine of the hinterland, the word is applied to the inland region lying behind a port, claimed by the state that owns the coast. The area from which products are delivered to a port for...

, and systems did not connect. Each builder was free to choose its own gauge, although the availability of British-built locomotives encouraged some railroads to be built to standard gauge. As a general rule, southern railroads were built to one or another broad gauge, mostly , while northern railroads that were not standard-gauge tended to be narrow-gauge. Most of the original track in Ohio was built in Ohio gauge, and special compromise cars were able to run on both this track and standard-gauge track. When American railroads' track extended to the point that they began to interconnect, it became clear that a single nationwide gauge was desirable.

In 1886, the southern railroads agreed to coordinate changing gauge on all their tracks. After considerable debate and planning, most of the southern rail network was converted from gauge to gauge, nearly the standard of the Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

, over two remarkable days beginning on Monday, May 31, 1886. Over a period of 36 hours, tens of thousands of workers pulled the spikes from the west rail of all the broad gauge lines in the South, moved them 3 in (76 mm) east and spiked them back in place. The new gauge was close enough that standard-gauge equipment could run on it without difficulty. By June 1886, all major railroads in North America were using approximately the same gauge. The final conversion to true standard gauge took place gradually as track was maintained.

In modern uses, certain isolated occurrences of non-standard gauges can still be found, such as the Pennsylvania trolley gauge
Pennsylvania trolley gauge
A number of North American streetcar lines intentionally varied from standard gauge. This may have been to make the streetcar companies less-tempting targets for takeovers by the steam railroads , which would be unable to run their trains over the streetcar tracks...

. The Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on of track with 44 stations in four counties...

 (BART) system in the San Francisco Bay Area chose gauge. The San Francisco
San Francisco cable car system
The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last permanently operational manually operated cable car system, in the US sense of a tramway whose cars are pulled along by cables embedded in the street. It is an icon of San Francisco, California...

 cable cars
Cable car (railway)
A cable car or cable railway is a mass transit system using rail cars that are hauled by a continuously moving cable running at a constant speed. Individual cars stop and start by releasing and gripping this cable as required...

 use a narrow gauge of .

Pennsylvania trolley gauge

A number of North American streetcar lines intentionally varied from standard gauge. This may have been to make the streetcar companies less-tempting targets for takeovers by the steam railroads (or competing streetcar companies), which would be unable to run their trains over the streetcar tracks. Pennsylvania trolley gauge was used on the former (defunct) Pittsburgh Railways
Pittsburgh Railways
Pittsburgh Railways was one of the predecessors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. It had 666 PCC cars, the third largest fleet in North America. It had 68 street car routes, of which only three are used by the Port Authority as light rail routes...

 and the defunct West Penn Railways
West Penn Railways
West Penn Railways, one part of the West Penn System, was an interurban electric railway headquartered in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. It was part of the region's power generation utility.-History:...

  and is still used on the current Pittsburgh Light Rail
Pittsburgh Light Rail
The Pittsburgh Light Rail is a light rail system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; it functions as a subway in Downtown Pittsburgh and largely as an at-grade light rail service in the suburbs. The system is owned and operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County...

, on some SEPTA lines such as the Philadelphia streetcar lines and the Philadelphia Market-Frankford subway line
Market-Frankford Line
The Market–Frankford Line is a rapid transit line in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority .-Route:The Market–Frankford Line begins at 69th Street Transportation Center, in Upper Darby...

 ( & ) as well as in New Orleans
Streetcars in New Orleans
Streetcars in New Orleans have been an integral part of the city's public transportation network since the first half of the 19th century. The longest of New Orleans' streetcar lines, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, is the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world,...

 .

Broader gauges

Some applications require broader gauges, including:
  • Large telescope
    Telescope
    A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

    s and telescope arrays.
  • Rocket launchers
    Launch pad
    A launch pad is the area and facilities where rockets or spacecraft lift off. A spaceport can contain one or many launch pads. A typical launch pad consists of the service and umbilical structures. The service structure provides an access platform to inspect the launch vehicle prior to launch....

    —The European Space Agency
    European Space Agency
    The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

    , Russian Federal Space Agency
    Russian Federal Space Agency
    The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

    , NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

     and SpaceX
    SpaceX
    Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or more popularly and informally known as SpaceX, is an American space transport company that operates out of Hawthorne, California...

     use double-track railroad to move rockets and supporting equipment at launch sites. (The U.S. Apollo program and Space Shuttle
    Space Shuttle
    The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

    s use caterpillar tracks on a river stone roadbed because other solutions could not support the loads required.)
  • Dockside cranes
    Gantry crane
    Gantry cranes, bridge cranes, and overhead cranes, are all types of cranes which lift objects by a hoist which is fitted in a hoist trolley and can move horizontally on a rail or pair of rails fitted under a beam...

     for unloading cargo from ships and for constructing ships
    • The Kockums Crane, now in Ulsan
      Ulsan
      Ulsan , officially the Ulsan Metropolitan City, is South Korea's seventh largest metropolis with a population of over 1.1 million. It is located in the south-east of the country, neighboring Busan to the south and facing Gyeongju to the north and the Sea of Japan to the east.Ulsan is the...

      , South Korea, has 175 m gauge.
  • Ship railways
  • Railway gun
    Railway gun
    A railway gun, also called a railroad gun, is a large artillery piece, often surplus naval ordnance, mounted on, transported by, and fired from a specially designed railway wagon. Many countries have built railway guns, but the best known are the large Krupp-built pieces used by Germany in World...

    s


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

  • Breitspurbahn
    Breitspurbahn
    The Breitspurbahn was a planned broad-gauge railway, a personal pet project of Adolf Hitler during the Third Reich of Germany, supposed to run on 3 metre gauge track with double-deck coaches between major cities of Grossdeutschland, Hitler's expanded Germany.-History:Since reparations due after...

  • Narrow Gauge
  • Ramsey Car Transfer Apparatus
    Ramsey Car Transfer Apparatus
    In railroad industry, the Ramsey Car Transfer Apparatus was a proposed device to replace bogies on railroad cars to permit transfer of a train between railroad lines with different gauge....

  • Rail gauge
    Rail gauge
    Track gauge or rail gauge is the distance between the inner sides of the heads of the two load bearing rails that make up a single railway line. Sixty percent of the world's railways use a standard gauge of . Wider gauges are called broad gauge; smaller gauges, narrow gauge. Break-of-gauge refers...

  • Rail gauges, List of

  • Rail gauge in Europe
  • Rail gauge in North America
    Rail gauge in North America
    The vast majority of North American railroads are standard gauge. Exceptions include some streetcar, subway and rapid transit systems and some narrow gauge lines particularly in the West, e.g. the isolated White Pass and Yukon Route system, and the former Newfoundland Railway.As well as the usual...

  • Rail gauge in South America
    Rail gauge in South America
    Argentina and Chile use "Indian gauge" as well as .Brazil uses and...

  • Railroad switch
    Railroad switch
    A railroad switch, turnout or [set of] points is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another at a railway junction....

     (points)
  • Rail transport by country
    Rail transport by country
    This page provides an index of articles on Rail transport by country.Other indexes available include:*List of railway companies by country*List of countries by rail transport network size*Rail usage statistics by country...


  • Standard gauge
    Standard gauge
    The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

  • Variable gauge
  • Wide gauge
    Wide Gauge
    Standard Gauge, also known as Wide Gauge, was an early model railway and toy train rail gauge, introduced in the United States in 1906 by Lionel Corporation. As it was a toy standard, rather than a scale modeling standard, the actual scale of Standard Gauge locomotives and rolling stock varied...

    for model railways


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