Industrial railway
An industrial railway is a type of railway (usually private) that is not available for public transportation and is used exclusively to serve a particular industrial, logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 or military site. Industrial railways may be connecting the site to public freight networks through siding
Siding is the outer covering or cladding of a house meant to shed water and protect from the effects of weather. On a building that uses siding, it may act as a key element in the aesthetic beauty of the structure and directly influence its property value....

s, isolated (sometimes very far away of public rail or surface roads) or located entirely within a served property.


Industrial railways were once very common, but with the rise of road transport
Road transport
Road transport or road transportation is transport on roads of passengers or goods. A hybrid of road transport and ship transport is the historic horse-drawn boat.-History:...

, their numbers have greatly diminished.

An example of an industrial railway would transport bulk goods, for example clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 from a quarry or coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 from a mine, to an interchange point, called an exchange siding, with a main line railway, onwards from where it would be transported to its final destination.

The main reasons for industrial railways are normally for one of two reasons:
  • Onsite shunting and consolidation: part-finished products or goods require movement between different parts of the process site to enable them to be manufactured, or made-ready for shipment. Moving relatively small amounts of goods over short distances is expensive if undertaken by mainline railway operators, who make money for charging for the shipment of goods over long distances in bulk
  • Control of manufacture: Many industrial lines only operate for short periods of time, requiring the shipment of time-sensitive goods to the factory or processing point, over relatively short distances. These are mainly food products, often operating on narrow gauge lines to enable closer access to the originating point

Resultantly, most industrial railways are short, usually being only a few miles/kilometers long. While these types of lines most often at some point connect via exchange sidings or transfer sidings to bulk mainline shipping railways, there are notable exceptions which are hundreds of miles long, which include the iron ore-carrying railways in Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

, or in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 to transport coal, while in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 there are the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway
Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway
The Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway is a Canadian regional railway that stretches through the wilderness of northeastern Quebec and western Labrador. It connects Labrador City, Labrador, with the port of Sept-Îles, Quebec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River...

 and the Cartier Railway
Cartier Railway
The Cartier Railway is a privately owned railway that operates 260 miles of track in the Canadian province of Québec. It is operated by the Cartier Railway Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arcelor Mittal, formerly Québec Cartier Mining Company...

. These lines can be thought of as dedicated shipment routes, where only the products of that industry require shipment between those two points, and hence a dedicated line makes more economic sense with only limited possibility of consolidation of shipment with other industries.

Industrial railways serve many different industries. In both Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 a large number of industrial railways serve the sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

 industry. In Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, the Coors Brewing Company
Coors Brewing Company
The Coors Brewing Company is a regional division of the world's fifth-largest brewing company, the Canadian Molson Coors Brewing Company and is the third-largest brewer in the United States...

 uses its own industrial railway at the brewery both for the delivery of raw materials and for shipping the finished product.

Military railways

Some industrial railways are military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 in purpose, and serve ammunition dump
Ammunition dump
An ammunition dump, ammunition compound, ammunition depot, bomb dump, ammunition supply point or ammo dump, is a military storage facility for live ammunition and explosives....

s or transportation hubs and storage facilities.

The world's largest industrial railway serves the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

, and has been long operated by a military rail unit of the Russian Armed Forces. The railway closely participates in space launch
Space launch
Space launch is the earliest part of a flight that reaches space. Space launch involves liftoff, when a rocket or other space launch vehicle leaves the ground at the start of a flight...

es, transporting space vehicles to their immediate launch pad
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....


See also

  • British industrial narrow gauge railways
    British industrial narrow gauge railways
    British industrial narrow gauge railways are narrow gauge railways in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man that were primarily built to serve one or more industries. Some offered passenger services for employees or workmen, but they did not run public passenger trains...

  • British narrow gauge railways
    British narrow gauge railways
    There were more than a thousand British narrow gauge railways ranging from large, historically significant common carriers to small, short-lived industrial railways...

  • British quarrying and mining narrow gauge railways
    British quarrying and mining narrow gauge railways
    British industrial narrow gauge railways are narrow gauge railways in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man that were primarily built to serve one or more industries. Some offered passenger services for employees or workmen, but they did not run public passenger trains...

  • Decauville
    The Decauville manufacturing company was founded by Paul Decauville , a French pioneer in industrial railways. Decauville's major innovation was the use of ready-made sections of light, narrow gauge track fastened to steel sleepers; this track was portable and could be disassembled and transported...

  • Light railway
    Light railway
    Light railway refers to a railway built at lower costs and to lower standards than typical "heavy rail". This usually means the railway uses lighter weight track, and is more steeply graded and tightly curved to avoid civil engineering costs...

  • Mine railway
    Mine railway
    A mine railway is a railway constructed to carry materials and workers in and out of a mine. Materials transported typically include ore, coal and spoil. Today most mine railways are electrically powered; in former times pit ponies, such as Shetland ponies, were used to haul the trains...

  • Minimum gauge railway
    Minimum gauge railway
    Minimum gauge railways have a gauge of less than or , most commonly , , or . The notion of minimum gauge railways was originally developed by estate railways and by the French company of Decauville for industrial railways....

  • Other railways for the transport of goods
  • S. D. Warren Paper Mill
    S. D. Warren Paper Mill
    S. D. Warren Paper Mill is a small mill built on the Presumpscot River in the 1730s in a rural and fairly unpopulated area. In 1854, that small paper mill, in the soon-to-be established town of Westbrook, Maine, was purchased for $28,000 by Samuel Dennis Warren. The mill was named Grant, Warren and...

  • Short-line railroad

External links

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