Gauge: Various Gauges in Indian Railways, Broad Gauge, Metre Gauge, Narrow Gauge, Choice of Gauge ~ MECHTECH GURU

# Gauge:

The clear minimum horizontal distance between the inner (running) faces of the two rails forming a track is known as Gauge. Indian railway followed this practice. In European countries, the gauge is measured between the inner faces of two rails at a point 14 mm below the top of the rail.

## Various Gauges in Indian Railways:

When the clear horizontal distance between the inner faces of two parallel rails forming a track is 1676mm the gauge is called Broad Gauge (B.G) This gauge is also known as standard gauge of India and is the broadest gauge of the world. 50% India‘s railway tracks have been laid to this gauge.

Suitability: Broad gauge is suitable under the following Conditions:-

(i) When sufficient funds are available for the railway project.

(ii) When the prospects of revenue are very bright.

This gauge is, therefore, used for tracks in plain areas which are densely populated i.e. for routes of maximum traffic, intensities and at places which are centres of industry and commerce.

## 2. Metre Gauge: -

When the clear horizontal distance between the inner faces of two parallel rails forming a track is 1000mm, the gauge is known as Metre Gauge (M.G). 40% of India‘s railway tracks have been laid to this gauge.

Suitability: Metre Gauge is suitable under the following conditions:-

(i) When the funds available for the railway project are inadequate.

(ii) When the prospects of revenue are not very bright.

This gauge is, therefore, used for tracks in under-developed areas and in interior areas, where traffic intensity is small and prospects for future development are not very bright.

## 3. Narrow Gauge:-

When the clear horizontal distance between the inner faces of two parallel rails forming a track is either 762mm or 610mm, the gauge is known as Narrow gauge (N.G) .10% of India‘s railway tracks have been laid to this gauge.

Suitability: Narrow gauge is suitable under the following conditions:-

(i) When the construction of a track with wider gauge is prohibited due to the provision of sharp curves, steep gradients, narrow bridges and tunnels etc.

(ii) When the prospects of revenue are not very bright.

This gauge is, therefore, used in hilly and very thinly populated areas. The feeder gauge is commonly used for feeding raw materials to big government manufacturing concerns as well as to private factories such as steel plants, oil refineries, sugar factories, etc.

## Choice of Gauge:

The choice of gauge is very limited, as each country has a fixed gauge and all new railway lines are constructed to adhere to the standard gauge. However, the following factors theoretically influence the choice of the gauge:

## Cost considerations:

There is only a marginal increase in the cost of the track if a wider gauge is adopted. In this connection, the following points are important:

(a) There is a proportional increase in the cost of acquisition of land, earthwork, rails, sleepers, ballast, and other track items when constructing a wider gauge.

(b) The cost of building bridges, culverts, and runnels increases only marginally due to a wider gauge.

(c) The cost of constructing station buildings, platforms, staff quarters, level crossings, signals, etc., associated with the railway network is more or less the same for all gauges.

(d) The cost of rolling stock is independent of the gauge of the track for carrying the same volume of traffic.

## Traffic considerations:

The volume of traffic depends upon the size of wagons and the speed and hauling capacity of the train. Thus, the following points need to be considered:

(a) As a wider gauge can carry larger wagons and coaches, it can theoretically carry more traffic.

(b) A wider gauge has a greater potential at higher speeds, because speed is a function of the diameter of the wheel, which in turn is limited by the width of the gauge. As a thumb rule, diameter of the wheel is kept 75 per cent of gauge width.

(c) The type of traction and signalling equipment required are independent of the gauge.

## Physical features of the country:

It is possible to adopt steeper gradients and sharper curves for a narrow gauge as compared to a wider gauge.

## Uniformity of gauge:

The existence of a uniform gauge in a country enables smooth, speedy, and efficient operation of trains. Therefore, a single gauge should be adopted irrespective of the minor advantages of a wider gauge and the few limitations of a narrower gauge.

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