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Transportation Engineering - I

Lec-11 Railway Engineering

Elements of Railway tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the
permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails,
fasteners, sleepers and ballast (or slab track), plus the
underlying sub grade.
For clarity it is often referred to as railway track or
railroad track.
Track Formation
The purpose of track is to transfer train loads to the formation.

Requirements for Choosing a Track System:

Trains running on Track do not cause excessive environmental pollution in
the form of noise and ground vibration.
1. Costs of the total service life of the track must be as low as possible.
2. Maintenance should be low and as inexpensive as possible
Load Bearing Function of the Track
The load transfer works on the principle of stress reduction - layer by

1. The greatest stress occurs

between wheel and rail and is in
the order of 30 kN/cm2 (= 300
2. Between rail and sleeper the
stress is two orders smaller and
diminishes between sleeper and
ballast bed down to about 30
3. Finally the stress on the
formation is only about 5 N/cm2.
Type of Railway System

1. Urban Railway Transit:

Urban rail transit is an all-encompassing term for various types of local
rail systems providing passenger service within and around urban or
older suburban areas.
Types :
a) Tram : Trams are systems that run mainly or completely along streets, with low
capacity and frequent stops. Passengers usually board at street- or curb-level
b) Light Rail : Light rail is a relatively new term, as an outgrowth of trams/streetcars.
Speeds are usually higher, and articulated vehicles may be used to increase
c) Rapid Transit: A rapid transit, underground, subway, tube, elevated, or
metro(politan) system is a railwayusually in an urban areawith a high capacity
and frequency of service, and grade separation from other traffic.
d) Mono Rail: Monorail is a metro or railroad with a track consisting of a single rail
(actually a beam), as opposed to the traditional track with two parallel rails. Monorail
vehicles are wider than the beam they run on.
Type of Railway System
1. Suburban/Rural Railways: Suburb mostly refers to a residential
area. They may be the residential areas of a city, or separate residential
communities within commuting distance of a city.

Types :
a) Regional/Commuter Rail : Commuter rail, also called suburban rail, is a passenger
rail transport service between a city center, and outer suburbs and commuter towns
or other locations that draw large numbers of commuterspeople who travel on a
daily basis. Regional rail or commuter rail runs on trackage often shared with
intercity rail and freight trains

b) Intercity Rail: Inter-city rail services are express passenger train services that cover
longer distances than commuter or regional trains.

c) Freight Trains: A freight train or goods train is a group of freight cars (US) or
goods wagons (UIC) hauled by one or more locomotives on a railway, ultimately
transporting cargo between two points as part of the logistics chain.
Permanent Way Materials
1. Rails
2. Concrete Sleepers
3. Fastenings
4. Switches & Crossings (Turnouts)
Running Rails
Rail Joints
Mechanical Rail Joints
A. Fish Plate Joints
B. Flash Butt Welding
C. Alumino Thermit Welding
D. Insulated Rail Joints

Rail mechanical joints have been used in the railway industry to improve
the lateral and vertical alignment of the rails at their ends.
Rail Joints
A. Fish Plate Joints

As illustrated in the Figure, the normal rail joints consist of fishplates that are
bolted at the rail ends through a number of bolt holes (either two or three
or more) that have been drilled near the neutral axis in the rail web.
Rail Joints
B. Insulated Rail Joints

1. Bonded insulated joints in rails separate

electric circuits in tracks and turnouts.

2. To provide track segment isolation for the track

circuitry passed through the rail; this circuitry is
used to identify train locations and to control
Rail Joints
C. Alumino Thermit Welding
1. In this process, the highly
exothermic reaction between
aluminium and iron oxides
results in the production of
molten steel which is poured
into a mould around the gap
to be welded.

2. Thermit is the trade name

for one of the granular
mixtures of aluminium metal
and powdered ferric oxide.
Ignition of the Thermit is
usually carried out by lighting
a magnesium ribbon or
Rail Joints
D. Flash Butt Welding

Mobile Flash Butt Welding Group is dedicated to

performing high quality welds and to meet all the client
Alstoms latest arrival mobile welder, the Schlatter
AMS100 series that has been equipped with the new
state-of-the-art intelligent control and weld
management system.
In-Track Welding Equipment provides versatility and
reliability in any rail welding project.
Rail Joints
In-Track Rail Welding (Tunnel) Circle Line Project, Singapore

Rails are welded together to reclaim 18m of rail into longer length strips.
This can assist the track welding production with greater productivity gains
A railway sleeper is a rectangular object used as a base for railroad tracks. Ties
are members generally laid transverse to the rails, on which the rails are
supported and fixed, to transfer the loads from rails to the ballast and
subgrade, and to hold the rails to the correct gauge.

Types of Sleepers:
Steel Sleepers
Wooden Sleepers
Concrete Sleepers
Pre-Stressed Concrete Sleepers

A concrete sleeper is a railroad tie

made out of steel reinforced
The fastening of rails is usually taken care of
by the fasteners imbedded into the concrete.
Switches & Crossings (Turnouts)
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
Sixty percent of the world's railways use a standard gauge of 1,435
mm (4 ft 8 in). Wider gauges are called broad gauge; smaller
gauges, narrow gauge.
Break-of-gauge refers to the meeting of different gauges. Some
stretches of track are dual gauge, with three or four rails, allowing
trains of different gauges to share them.
An exception of a railway with no gauge is monorail where there is
only one supporting rail.
Gauge tolerances specify how much the actual gauge may vary from
the nominal gauge.
For example, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration specifies that
the actual gauge of track that is rated for a maximum of 60 mph
(96.6 km/h) must be between 4 ft 8 in (1,422 mm) and 4 ft 9 in
Types of Gauges
The standard gauge (also named the Stephenson gauge after
George Stephenson, or normal gauge) is a widely-used track gauge.
Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to
this gauge.
Except for Russia and Finland, all high-speed lines have been built
to this gauge.
The distance between the inside edges of the rails of standard gauge
track is usually called 1,435 mm but in the United States it is still
called 4 ft 8 in.
Broad gauge refers to any gauge wider than standard gauge or 1,435
mm (4 ft 8 12 in). Russian, Indian, Irish, and Iberian gauges are all
broad gauges. Broad gauge railways are also common for cranes in
docks for short distances. Broad gauge is used to provide better
stability or to prevent the easy transfer of rolling stock from
railroads of other countries for political or military reasons.
In many areas narrow gauge railways have been built. As the
gauge of a railway is reduced the costs of construction can also be
reduced since narrow gauges allow a smaller radius curves
allowing obstacles to be avoided rather than having to be built
over or through (valleys and hills); the reduced cost is particularly
noticeable in mountainous regions.
Different gauges, from left: 1435mm,
1000mm and 600mm, on display at Chinese
Railways Museum.
- The most widely used narrow gauges are
- 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Cape gauge
- 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) meter gauge)
- 762 mm (2 ft 6 in)
When a railway line of one gauge meets a line of another gauge there is a
break of gauge. A break of gauge adds cost and inconvenience to traffic
that passes from one system to another.
Dual gauge allows trains of different gauges to share the same track
Railway Sleepers
Depending upon the position in a railway track, sleepers may be
classified as:
These are the early form of sleepers which are not commonly used
Longitudinal Sleepers: It consists of slabs of stones or pieces of woods
placed parallel to and underneath the rails. To maintain correct gauge of
the track, cross pieces are provided at regular intervals.
At present this type of sleepers are discarded mainly because of the
following reasons.
Running of the train is not smooth when this type of sleepers is used.
Noise created by the track is considerable.
Cost is high.
Transverse Sleepers: Transverse sleepers introduced in 1835 and since
then they are universally used.
Timber/wooden sleepers
Steel sleepers
Cast Iron Sleepers
Concrete Sleepers
Timber Sleepers
The timber sleepers nearly fulfilled all the requirements of ideal
sleepers and hence they are universally used. The wood used may be
like teak, sal etc or it may be coniferous like pine.
The salient features of timber/wooden sleepers with advantages and
Advantages of Timber Sleepers
They are much useful for heavy loads and high speeds
They have long life of 10-12 years depending upon the climate,
condition, rain, intensity, nature of traffic, quality of wood etc
Good insulators and hence good for track circuited railway tracks
They are able to accommodate any gauge
Suitable for salty regions and coastal areas
Can be used with any section of rail
Can be handled and placed easily
They are not badly damaged in case of derailment
They are not corroded
Cheaper than any other types of sleepers
Disadvantages of Timber Sleepers
Liable to be attacked by vermin so, they must be properly treated before use
Liable to catch fire
They do not resist creep
They are affected by dry and wet rot
Become expensive day by day
Life is shorter compare to others
Steel sleepers
They are in the form of steel trough inverted on which rails are fixed
directly by keys or nuts and bolts and used along sufficient length of
Advantages of Steel Sleepers
Have a useful life of 20-25 years.
Free from decay and are not attacked by vermins
Connection between rail and sleeper is stronger
Connection between rail and sleeper is simple
More attention is not required after laying
Having better lateral rigidity
Good scrap value
Suitable for high speeds and load
Easy to handle
Good resistance against creep
Disadvantages of Steel sleepers
Liable to corrosion by moisture and should not because in salty regions
Good insulators and hence cannot be used in track circuited regions
Cannot be used for all sections of rails and gauges
Should not be laid with any other types of ballast except store
Very costly
Can badly damaged under derailments
Way gauge is obtained if the keys are over driven
The rail seat is weaker
Having good shock absorber as there is not cushion between rail foot and ballast
Cast Iron Sleepers
They consist of two pots or plates with rib and connected by wrought iron
tie bar of section of about 2" " each pot or plate is placed below each
rail. The pot is oval in shape with larger diameter 2'-0" and smaller
diameter 1'-8" is preferred.
Plate sleepers consist of rectangular plates of size about 2' 10' x 1' 0".
The relative advantages and disadvantages are given below.
Advantages of Cast Iron Sleepers
Long life upto 50-60 years- High scrape value as they can be remolded
Can be manufactured locally - Provided sufficient bearing area
Much stronger at the rail seat - Prevent and check creep of rail
They are not attacked by vermin
Disadvantages Cast Iron Sleepers
They are prone to corrosion and cannot be used in salty formations and
coastal areas - Not suitable for track circuited portions of railways
Can badly damage under derailment
Difficult to maintain the gauge as the two pots are independent
Require a large number of fastening materials - Difficult to handle and
may be easily damaged - Lack of good shock absorber - They are expensive
Concrete sleepers
R.C.C and pre-stressed concrete sleepers are now replacing all other types
of sleepers except to some special circumstances such as crossing bridges
etc here timber sleepers are used.
They were first of all used in France round about in 1914 but are common
since 1950. They may be a twin block sleepers joined by an angle iron. It
may be a single block pre-stressed type.
Advantages Concrete Sleepers
Durable with life range from 40-50 years
They can be produced on large quantities locally by installing a plant
Heavier than all other types thus giving better lateral stability to the track
Good insulators and thus suitable for use in track circuited lines
Efficient in controlling creep - They are not attacked by corrosion
Free from attacks of vermin and decay, suitable for all types of soils
Most suitable for welded tracks- Prevent buckling more efficiently
Initial cost is high but proves to be economical in long run
Effectively and strongly hold the track to gauge
Inflammable and fire resistant
Disadvantages Concrete Sleepers
Difficult to be handled
Difficult to be manufactured in different sizes thus cannot be used in
bridges and crossing
Can be damaged easily while loading and unloading
It is a layer of broken stones, gravel or any other such gritty
material laid and packed below and around sleepers.
Functions of ballast:
To distribute the loads uniformly over the subgrade.
To provide good drainage for the track structure.
To provide elasticity and resilience to track for getting proper
riding comfort.
To held the track structure to line and grade.
To reduce dust.
To prevent growth of brush and weeds.
A good ballast should be strong, hard-wearing, stable, drainable, easy
to clean, workable, resistant to deformation, easily available, and
reasonably cheap to purchase.
Early railway engineers did not understand the importance of quality
track ballast; they would use cheap and easily-available materials
such as ashes, chalk, clay, earth, and even cinders from locomotive
It was soon clear that good-quality ballast made of rock was
necessary if there was to be a good foundation and adequate
Requirements of Good Ballast:
1.It should be tough and should not crumble under heavy loads.
2.It should not make the track dusty or muddy.
3.It should offer resistance to abrasion and weathering.
4.It should not produce any chemical reaction with rails and sleepers.
5.The materials should be easily workable.
6.It should retain its position and should not be distributed.
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, such as at a
railway junction or where a spur or siding branches off.
A switch generally has a straight "through" track (such as the main-line)
and a diverging route. The handedness of the installation is described by
the side that the diverging track leaves. Right-hand switches have a
diverging path to the right of the straight track, when coming from the
narrow end and a left-handed switch has the diverging track leaving to the
opposite side.
A straight track is not always present; for example, both tracks may curve,
one to the left and one to the right (such as for a wye switch) or both
tracks may curve, with differing radii, in the same direction.
Single Track and Double Track
A double-track railway usually involves running one track in
each direction, compared to a single-track railway where
trains in both directions share the same track.
Write a comprehensive note on the selection
of site for railway station.
Explain various parts of a railway station.