Broad vs standard gauge

 
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Not 100% sure where this belongs in the forum but I'm looking for some technical info.

What are the benefits of broad gauge over standard gauge?  Looking around the web i can see that standard costs less, but what are the operating advantages of standard over broad?  Ignoring commonality with places like the US and UK etc, operationally what can trains do on broad gauge better than they can on standard?  Id think axle weightings are a factor of the rail, so not sure that heavier loads are all that possible, but then I'm no rail engineer.  Anyone able to give an educated answer?

Thanks.

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  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Not 100% sure where this belongs in the forum but I'm looking for some technical info.

What are the benefits of broad gauge over standard gauge?  Looking around the web i can see that standard costs less, but what are the operating advantages of standard over broad?  Ignoring commonality with places like the US and UK etc, operationally what can trains do on broad gauge better than they can on standard?  Id think axle weightings are a factor of the rail, so not sure that heavier loads are all that possible, but then I'm no rail engineer.  Anyone able to give an educated answer?

Thanks.
jamesbushell.au
In a nut shell the benefits of one over the other is Zilch / zero / nada

Without opening the can of worms that has been discussed to death in previous threads, the colonies (states) at the time choose whichever because they could buy the equipment and technology from the UK (England & Ireland)
  apw5910 Chief Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Broad gauge was "sold" to the then colonial masters because the extra 6.5" would theoretically allow bigger cylinders on steam locos, giving extra power. Not that this was ever achieved in practice. I think it was really a typical case of "not invented here" on the part of the Hibernian engineers involved.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Actually, the 'bigger cylinder' bit was tried, with compound engines. But the Vauclain compound was conceived and built in the US of A, where loading gauge was not something you paid a lot of attention to. As a result, the early ones had a nasty habit of clobbering the platforms as they arrived. Important note: platforms were another thing the Americans did not pay any attention to.
  Z VAN Junior Train Controller

As Pressman has stated the physical operational benefits of broad verses standard are zero.
The big thing is interchangeability of equipment so let us put broad gauge to History in the context of Victoria and standardise the Country lines so that a goods wagon if traffic dictates can be run anywhere.
If this was 1860 it maybe worth exploring if any advantages in the broader gauge exist but the decision to build Nationally with standard gauge was decided when the Trans Australian Railway was opened in 1917.
American Railroads may not be perfect but they realised pretty early that break of gauge was not a commercial winner.
From memory in the South there was some three thousand miles of narrow gauge that was converted over a ten day period in 1885.
Compare that to the broad gauge line conversion from Seymour to Wodonga regards time taken!
PTE
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
From memory in the South there was some three thousand miles of narrow gauge that was converted over a ten day period in 1885.
Z VAN

The South was mostly 5' 0" gauge, which is broader than standard.

The changeover to standard in a few days required months of preparation. They probably brought in perway crews from around the country to help.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
What are the benefits of broad gauge over standard gauge?  Looking around the web I can see that standard costs less, but what are the operating advantages of standard over broad?
jamesbushell.au
The wider the gauge, the wider the wheelset. Wider wheelsets are more stable at higher speeds and can have a wider chassis/body on top.

This is only a theoretical advantage and in practice, modified standard gauge High Speed Rail trains have done 574kph on test runs so it doesn't appear to be a show-stopping issue for standard gauge trains.

The other theoretical advantage is with axle loadings. With a larger gauge you have a wider gap between the load-bearing points on a sleeper/tie, so you can distribute the weight across a wider surface area and hence reduce the ground pressure - leading to more room for higher axle loads. Again - a very theoretical advantage. Pilbara iron ore trains seem to do quite fine running ~40 tonne axle load trains on standard gauge track, although I understand that they are getting close to the theoretical limits of their permanent way design.

In summary: a broader gauge has some theoretical advantages that are vastly outweighed by the advantages of using a common, system-wide gauge.
  Z VAN Junior Train Controller

Bit of a glitch on my part awsgc24 . You are correct it was five foot.
The point I was trying to make was the problem was acknowledged and rectified in a short space of time with proper planning.
In other threads we are still questioning if Victoria should convert certain lines to standard gauge some one hundred and sixty years after the problem was created.  
It frustrates me to no end.
PTE.
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

Not 100% sure where this belongs in the forum but I'm looking for some technical info.

What are the benefits of broad gauge over standard gauge?  Looking around the web i can see that standard costs less, but what are the operating advantages of standard over broad?  Ignoring commonality with places like the US and UK etc, operationally what can trains do on broad gauge better than they can on standard?  Id think axle weightings are a factor of the rail, so not sure that heavier loads are all that possible, but then I'm no rail engineer.  Anyone able to give an educated answer?

Thanks.
jamesbushell.au
Remember in the USA soft wood sleepers (ties) are used so converting from 5ft to Std would have involved nothing more than pulling the spikes out from one running rail, moving the running rail in and then belting in the spikes in a different position. Switches may have been more of a challenge but running speeds were low then and a less than a top notch conversion would have sufficed.

Comparing a conversion then to now is like chalk and cheese and just nonsensical.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Remember in the USA soft wood sleepers (ties) are used so converting from 5ft to Std would have involved nothing more than pulling the spikes out from one running rail, moving the running rail in and then belting in the spikes in a different position. Switches may have been more of a challenge but running speeds were low then and a less than a top notch conversion would have sufficed.

Comparing a conversion then to now is like chalk and cheese and just nonsensical.
nswtrains
I have to disagree so far as timber sleepers are concerned moving one rail is little different then and now. In fact, mechanical equipment should make it easier and quicker now.

AN converted the 134 miles from Adelaide to Port Pirie in only a matter of relatively few days. Adelaide to Port Pirie was far more of a mainline than anything in Victoria likely to be a candidate for gauge conversion these days. The sleepers were predrilled in advance and the rail was moved very quickly once conversion commenced.

Adelaide - Serviceton was also done quickly and efficiently on the previously installed concrete sleepers.

AN started in both cases with a mainline and they finished with a mainline BUT the major difference between Serviceton - Adelaide - Pirie and any likely conversion in Victoria was the condition of the track before the gauge conversion. A large component in both time and money in Victoria is arrears of maintenance which has resulted in the track being sub standard before conversion.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Adelaide - Serviceton was also done quickly and efficiently on the previously installed concrete sleepers.

AN started in both cases with a mainline and they finished with a mainline BUT the major difference between Serviceton - Adelaide - Pirie and any likely conversion in Victoria was the condition of the track before the gauge conversion. A large component in both time and money in Victoria is arrears of maintenance which has resulted in the track being sub standard before conversion.
YM-Mundrabilla
Yes, AN had installed gauge convertible concrete sleepers between Murray Bridge and Serviceton prior to the conversion to SG.
The actual conversion took place at walking pace, a couple of workers removing the clips, another following with a frame which moved one rail to the new alignment, followed by a few more workers refitting the clips.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The wider the gauge, the wider the wheelset. Wider wheelsets are more stable at higher speeds and can have a wider chassis/body on top.
LancedDendrite

Irish broad gauge is only 11% wider than standard gauge:

* not enough to make any real difference
* big enough to create unfixable breaks of gauge.

In practice no countries using Irish broad gauge have hills and gradients or traffic heavy enough to need the 11% extra space required for bigger inside cylinders of more powerful locomotives.

The US has such heavy gradients and traffic, and has managed much more powerful locomotives despite a 11% narrower gauge. Think:
* Big Boys
* Cab-forwards
* Malletts
* 3 or 4 diesels working in multiple unit.
* use outside cylinders, so space required for bigger inside cylinders irrelevant.
* etc.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
How many times in a post do I have to repeat that the advantages of broad gauge are theoretical, and minor at best before other people understand my view?

And I was referring to speeds, not grades or structural gauge! Of course the US has had some of the most powerful locos in the world built for its railroads, they have a massive loading gauge to fit them in.

Once again:

In summary: a broader gauge has some theoretical advantages that are vastly outweighed by the advantages of using a common, system-wide gauge.
LancedDendrite
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
the decision to build Nationally with standard gauge was decided when the Trans Australian Railway was opened in 1917.
Z VAN
There has been a lot of standard gauge track laid in Tasmania and Queensland since then, hasn't there? Laughing
  M636C Minister for Railways

There are broad gauges other than 1600 mm, just not in Australia...

The English Great Western Railway was built to a gauge of 7 feet 0 1/4 inches, substantially more than standard.

It did provide significant technical advantages in 1835.
By 1892, it was realised that a common gauge was more important and the line was converted to standard gauge all the way from London to Penzance over a weekend. Quite a few locomotives had been built to be suitable for conversion to standard gauge, at least partly because developments in design allowed standard gauge locomotives to equal the performance of the older broad gauge locomotives.

One result of the GWR broad gauge was larger clearances that allowed slightly larger passenger carriages than elsewhere in the UK, but since most vehicles had to run on other railways, this was not taken advantage of.

In Australia, the broad gauge clearances were almost the same as those on standard gauge. When the Spirit of Progress ran through to Sydney, only the handrails beside the doors  had to be altered. After a few years, an unaltered broad gauge car (on SG bogies) ran through and it didn't hit anything.

Sydney's suburban trains had larger clearances from the start of electrification than Melbourne, and these were taken advantage of by the double deck cars. The modified Tangara built  for Melbourne was lower and narrower and could only seat four across rather than five on the lower deck.

So it might be said that the VR did not take advantage of the wider gauge since their clearances were the same or smaller than standard gauge.

Had either or both gauges in Australia had significantly larger clearances in height and width, like the USA or Russia, that would have remained an advantage. The narrow gauge doesn't permit taller vehicles, although Queensland coal hoppers are actually wider overall than those in the Hunter Valley, but the narrower formation limits axleloads to less than the standard gauge.

M636C
  woodford Chief Commissioner

I have to disagree so far as timber sleepers are concerned moving one rail is little different then and now. In fact, mechanical equipment should make it easier and quicker now.
YM-Mundrabilla
Hmmmmmmmmmm, Well, Yes and no.

I have built track using both hardwood and softwood sleepers, and while some of the newer ideas and equipment  (eg Dog spike pullers, and the screwed dogspikes) make life considerably easier, with softwood sleepers you DO NOT need to pre drill a hole for a dog spike. Using standard Victorian dog spikes, its an advantage to have a small depression to start a dog spike off, but from  what I understand the dog spikes in use in the USA back then where made with sharp points on them so they could be driven easier. Softwood sleepers are also way lighter, along with  dog spike issue just mentioned this makes hand laying track using softwood sleepers a "piece of cake" compared with good old Aussie hardwood.

The longest distant of hand layed track I know of is something over 10  miles in one day, this was certainly using softwood sleepers.

By the way they regauged the Antofgasta and Bolivia railway something like 500 miles of 2ft 6' to metre gauge in 6 days. They did this by simply working out the number of teams required to do the work in the time required. All major yards were done in advance.
The project was complicated by the fact that it ___NEVER___ rains in that section of South America so the required number of camps along the line were set up and provsioned. I believed the finished the task half a day early.

One must remember the past is a completely different time and place, its almost impossible to make a meaningfull comparison.

woodford
  Z VAN Junior Train Controller

Graham4405 you are correct in asking how "much" standard gauge has been constructed in Queensland and Tasmania.Well Tasmania is an isolated system so to convert any lines for uniformity with the mainland would be silly in the extreme.
Queensland is a classic lost opportunity.
The Moura short line was originally planned as standard gauge but the far sighted Country Party said "hang on we would not be able to run stock trains along it".
The Crowd agreed as what a backward step not being able to run stock trains.
SO we built it narrow gauge. Sound idea.
Before this, the Mt Isa line was being rebuilt in 1961 and I believe it was lost by three votes in Cabinet not to build it standard gauge.
Another far sighted decision!
Broadly the Coal system in Central Queensland would be a third of the open for traffic system.  
If we had from the start rebuilt the system as Standard gauge as the system has been rebuilt to a high standard since thank goodness They got one part of the equation right.
BUT if it had been built as standard gauge what a wonderful base line to start from if it was decided to convert the mainline from Brisbane to Cairns.
Since the line to South Brisbane was built in the 1930,s the only other line built would be from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.
So you are correct to ask how much has been built in Queensland?

Not much and equally not much in any of the other States.
PTE.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Since the line to South Brisbane was built in the 1930,s the only other line built would be from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.
Z VAN
You forgot:
  • The line from Lorim Point (Weipa) to Andoom
  • The extension from South Brisbane to Roma Street

But yes, not much.

My earlier post was regarding "the decision to build Nationally with standard gauge" that you mentioned which has clearly had little effect. Either that or Tasmania and Queensland are not considered to be part of the Nation!
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
One story steeped in the mists of time is that the so called 'Standard Gauge' dates back to Roman days and is roughly the distance the shafts need to be apart for a horse to pull a wheeled vehicle of any sort.
Remember wagons, carts or whatever predate locomotives and in mining where much of heavy hauling was done, the width of the mine shaft was no wider than it had to be because it all takes time and costs money to shift dirt so everything would be 'standadised' based on the width  of whatever pulled those loads.
The very first 'trains' were these very same wagons used in the Pitts so it stands to reason to make the locomotive only as big as you need it and by now with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, its simpler and CHEAPER to make everything (when molding and casting) the same size instead of before when everything was made by hand to individual specifications.

Of course with the choice of Gauge we also get parochialism such as with the fiasco of the Gauges between NSW and Victoria otherwise costs and needs may force the choice even though another may be preferred.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Since the line to South Brisbane was built in the 1930,s the only other line built would be from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.
So you are correct to ask how much has been built in Queensland?

Not much and equally not much in any of the other States.
PTE.
Z VAN

There has been quite a lot of conversion in Victoria and South Australia connected with the Melbourne-Adelaide standardisation.

With the closure of the Angaston quarry on the Gawler line there is now no broad gauge freight in South Australia and broad gauge is confined to the suburban network and the preserved Steamranger line to Victor Harbour.

Sadly even the standard gauge Murray Lands grain lines are closing now, the last extension being from Pinnaroo to to the Victorian Border in August 2004.

All of the freight not on standard gauge in South Australia is in the Eyre Peninsula on the narrow gauge former SAR and Whyalla iron ore lines. Conversion of the Whyalla lines which connect with the standard gauge network, although there is no through traffic, might be a possibility (but not until the price of iron ore improves).

Much of the grain network in Western Victoria was converted to standard gauge and the Ballarat Ararat line is only open for passenger trains now. Conversion of the Mildura line is being actively considered and actual conversion should occur soon. The Benalla Oaklands line was converted with the conversion of the broad gauge north of Seymour.

If the Shepparton line were to be converted Victorian broad gauge would be effectively confined to the suburban and the V/Line passenger network.

Broad Gauge freight traffic is on the way out even in Victoria...

M636C
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The English Great Western Railway was built to a gauge of 7 feet 0 1/4 inches, substantially more (49%) than standard.

By 1892, it was realised that a common gauge was more important and the line was converted to standard gauge all the way from London to Penzance over a weekend.
M636C
M636C
The Gauge Commission of 1843, started the deathnell for 7'. Main lines such as those into Paddington, started to be converted to dual gauge. By 1892, all that had to be done was to stop running BG trains, and rip up the third rail.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The English Great Western Railway was built to a gauge of 7 feet 0 1/4 inches, substantially more (49%) than standard.

By 1892, it was realised that a common gauge was more important and the line was converted to standard gauge all the way from London to Penzance over a weekend.
M636C
The Gauge Commission of 1845, started the deathnell for 7', as it recommended Standard Gauge

GWR Main lines such as those into Paddington, started to be converted to dual gauge. By 1892, all that had to be done was to stop running BG trains, and rip up the third rail.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Of course with the choice of Gauge we also get parochialism such as with the fiasco of the Gauges between NSW and Victoria otherwise costs and needs may force the choice even though another may be preferred.
gordon_s1942

You hear this every time the subject comes up for discussion, but everyone conveniently forgets the fiasco that was WA, SA, Queensland and Tasmania with 3' 6" gauge. Fact is no one state got it right except maybe New South Wales.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
You hear this every time the subject comes up for discussion, but everyone conveniently forgets the fiasco that was WA, SA, Queensland and Tasmania with 3' 6" gauge. Fact is no one state got it right except maybe New South Wales.
TheBlacksmith
Which only leaves two states that didn't use 3'6" gauge, perhaps they were the only ones who got it wrong? Mr. Green
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Which only leaves two states that didn't use 3'6" gauge, perhaps they were the only ones who got it wrong? Mr. Green
Graham4405
Maybe, although I don't see 3'6" being referred to as 'standard' gauge.

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