Best gauge


John Peterson
 

All all,

I feel that the Simla line in India can give us clues about this
question via comparing it to the VR lines and the large desert 'high
efficency' lines.

Michael, are you able to give an indication of the curves used and
maybe the clearances or the size of the rolling stock used on the
mountain Simla line in India?

This discussion is focused on the 'theoretical' best gauge and I guess
governments might have an interest in this to justify spending
taxpayers money wisely.

I suspect that in other cases the gauge chosen was for more arbitary
reasons. Mention was made that in certain industries had a tradition
of certain gauges. The gasworks one of 2' 6" was mentioned. The navy
line in Swan Island was 3' and the information suggests that this was
the gauge used in the UK for mines type depots. Do other people know
of 'tradional' gauges used in particular industries or perhaps by
particular engineers? This doesn't include the idea of getting
a 'bargain' loco which sets the gauge for the rest of the line.

Cheers
John


Ron & Hilary Martin <ronhil@...>
 

Most of the Ironstone workings of the UK were 3 ft gauge.

Ron M.

-------Original Message-------

From: crannyjohn
Date: 02/10/07 17:14:34
To: LRRSA@yahoogroups.com.au
Subject: [LRRSA] Best gauge

All all,

I feel that the Simla line in India can give us clues about this
question via comparing it to the VR lines and the large desert 'high
efficency' lines.

Michael, are you able to give an indication of the curves used and
maybe the clearances or the size of the rolling stock used on the
mountain Simla line in India?

This discussion is focused on the 'theoretical' best gauge and I guess
governments might have an interest in this to justify spending
taxpayers money wisely.

I suspect that in other cases the gauge chosen was for more arbitary
reasons. Mention was made that in certain industries had a tradition
of certain gauges. The gasworks one of 2' 6" was mentioned. The navy
line in Swan Island was 3' and the information suggests that this was
the gauge used in the UK for mines type depots. Do other people know
of 'tradional' gauges used in particular industries or perhaps by
particular engineers? This doesn't include the idea of getting
a 'bargain' loco which sets the gauge for the rest of the line.

Cheers
John


Michael J
 

John,

Michael, are you able to give an indication of the curves used and
maybe the clearances or the size of the rolling stock used on the
mountain Simla line in India?
Always happy to oblige. The minimum radius of the Shimla line was 45
degrees, which I understand is 123ft radius. This compares with the
minimum radius on the VRNG, which was 2 chains, or 132ft.

Most of the locos I've seen seem to be a little narrower - about 7'6"
but overall size about the same. So maybe a slightly smaller loading
gauge. For the Shimla 2-6-2T locos:

Wheelbase Rigid 6'
Wheelbase overall 17'6"
TF 14,112lb
Weight total 34.97
Max axle weight 8.55

For a VR NA:

Wheelbase Rigid 8'
Wheelbase overall ?
TF 12,515lb
Weight total 35.3
Max axle weight 9.2

So there is not much difference. The Shimla loco acheves a greater TF
despite being a fraction lighter, probably because of better
distribution of weight.

Rolling stock is almost univerally smaller than the locos, and most
Indian designs I have seen are 7' wide.

I suspect that in other cases the gauge chosen was for more arbitary
reasons. Mention was made that in certain industries had a tradition
of certain gauges.
And for industrial lines I've came across a huge variety of gauges.
There do seem to traditions - for 2'6" gauge in Britain, peat railways
(one built as recently as 2000), military instilations, gasworks, and
others , in Pensylvania steel milla and coal mines, in Lousianna sugar
lines. There seem to have been a "nest" of 2'6" logging lines around
the Erica district.

Cheers,

Michael


Frank Stamford
 

Well if you are seeking the "best" gauge for a public railway carrying passengers and freight, I thought that question was settled in about 1835 - it is 1435 mm.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an economic disaster!

But all those economic disasters produced some wonderful fascinating material for organisations like the LRRSA to write about, and for numerous societies around the world to preserve.

George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railways" (Stanford University Press, 1990) covers this subject very well In the early sections of that book he covers the world-wide development of different gauges, and goes into the economics of it very thoroughly.

Frank

At 05:13 PM 10/02/2007, you wrote:

All all,

I feel that the Simla line in India can give us clues about this
question via comparing it to the VR lines and the large desert 'high
efficency' lines.

Michael, are you able to give an indication of the curves used and
maybe the clearances or the size of the rolling stock used on the
mountain Simla line in India?

This discussion is focused on the 'theoretical' best gauge and I guess
governments might have an interest in this to justify spending
taxpayers money wisely.

I suspect that in other cases the gauge chosen was for more arbitary
reasons. Mention was made that in certain industries had a tradition
of certain gauges. The gasworks one of 2' 6" was mentioned. The navy
line in Swan Island was 3' and the information suggests that this was
the gauge used in the UK for mines type depots. Do other people know
of 'tradional' gauges used in particular industries or perhaps by
particular engineers? This doesn't include the idea of getting
a 'bargain' loco which sets the gauge for the rest of the line.

Cheers
John


Michael J
 

--- In LRRSA@yahoogroups.com.au, "Michael J" <thirtyinchfan@...> wrote:

So there is not much difference. The Shimla loco acheves a greater TF
despite being a fraction lighter, probably because of better
distribution of weight.
I just looked at the driving wheel dia, the Shimla was 30" and the NA
36", so that probably accounts for the differance in TF.

Who would have thought of the NA class as a thoughbred and not a
drafthorse?

Michael


John Browning
 

I beg to differ regarding peat railways. In Britain, there were far more 2ft
gauge peat railways than 2ft 6ins and 3ft, and in Germany, where peat railways
became an art form, 600mm gauge was generally de rigeur IIRC. At the same
time, I think that the peat railways of Ireland started off as 2ft but all the
many major (extensive and well populated) systems are 3ft. (Peat railways in
Ireland are comparable in number and complexity to cane railways in
Queensland).

British dam and reservoir construction railways were generally 3ft. Ironstone
mines used 3ft or metre. Naval depot narrow gauge was 2ft 6ins but Army and
RAF tended to be 2ft, including target tramways.

French sugar beet lines were 600mm gauge while Indonesian sugar and palm oil
lines were generally 700mm as a result of the Dutch influence. USA-influenced
industrial applications tended to be 3ft.

750mm was widely used in central and eastern Europe (thus my argument about
economic development) while 762mm was strong in areas of British influence.

A scan of builder's lists from Britain and Europe will show that 2ft / 600mm
tended to be the prevalent one for locomotives of the smaller gauges (up to
3ft) and its intensive use in i/c locos (probably not unrelated to the gauge
of WW1 military light railways) has meant that it dominates narrow gauge
preservation activity, supported by the generally (but not in Queensland)
smaller size of its equipment and fixtures.

None of this is any comment on what is the "best" gauge. As can be seen,
specific economic and engineering considerations were not actually the
determining factor in most cases, with existing rolling stock determining
almost all the many "off beat" gauge choices.

Anyway for most of us, the "best" is what we like the most - a bit like
football teams, really. (Frank - don't get alarmed - this is just a simile.)

John


Bill Bolton
 

On Sat, 10 Feb 2007 06:13:03 -0000, John wrote:

Do other people know of 'tradional' gauges used in particular
industries or perhaps by particular engineers?
~18" gauge seems to have been popular in munitions handling
establishments.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Bolton
Sydney, Australia


Bill Bolton
 

On Sat, 10 Feb 2007 21:20:27 +1100, Frank wrote:

Well if you are seeking the "best" gauge for a public railway carrying
passengers and freight, I thought that question was settled in about 1835 -
it is 1435 mm.
The *massive* amount of track (both originally laid, and still extant
and in heavy use) in ~3' to 3'6" gauge range indicates otherwise.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an economic
disaster!
See above.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Bolton
Sydney, Australia


Michael J
 

--- In LRRSA@yahoogroups.com.au, ceo8@... wrote:


I beg to differ regarding peat railways.
I guess I was looking at it from the other direction, peat railways
were prominent on a list of 2'6" railways. But as I've said before
2'/60cm was the "queen" of industrial rail gauges

Michael


Michael J
 

--- In LRRSA@yahoogroups.com.au, Frank Stamford <frank.stamford@...>
wrote:

it is 1435 mm.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an economic
disaster!
Hmmm, well not sure about that. Some narrow gauge railways did make
profits, and many standard gauge lines didnt. At the end of the day
the narrower the gauge the more route miles for your buck, and the
broader the gauge the faster you could go and the bigger load you
could carry.

But all those economic disasters produced some wonderful fascinating
material for organisations like the LRRSA to write about, and for
numerous
societies around the world to preserve.
No doubt about that.

George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railways" (Stanford
University Press, 1990) covers this subject very well In the early
sections of that book he covers the world-wide development of different
gauges, and goes into the economics of it very thoroughly.
I don't think economics was ever the end all. Today, especially here
in Australia, we are prepared to accept cross subsidies, government
support and some cobbled together systems to try and get
telecommunications to all. A hundred years ago it was rail transport.
If you couldn't afford a standard gauge line, you made do with a
narrow gauge line, and someone paid the ongoing costs.

Cheers,

Michael


longworthjim
 

Frank et. al.

Given the size of the 3ft 6in gauge network in Queensland; Tasmainia;
South Australia; Northern Teritory; Western Australia, i wonder
whether the selection of 4ft 8 1/2in was the 'Best Gauge' for
Australian railways?

I suspect that adopting standard gauge in Australia was more a result
of a powerful engineering technician in John Whitton, and later inter-
state politicing than technical suitability for the Australian
railway task!

Adopting standard gauge, rather than a narrower gauge, contributed to
plunging NSW railways into enormous capital debt. A narrower gauge
would have been cheaper to build,so be easier to pay-off. A narrower
gauge would have been cheaper to operate, so make running the network
easier make pay. Standard gauge contributed towards crippling the
railway accounts. Until recently many NSW trains were characterised
as 'little trains running on a little railway'(S. Sharp, pers dis).
Few trains paid a return on standard gauge track. Reducing the gauge
by 1ft 2 1/2in may well have produced a railway more in natural scale
to the transport task that was to be performed here. In NSW standard
gauge was an economic disaster!

John Kerr reckoned that the narrow gauge triumphed in Queensland!

The question would make an interesting counterfactual PhD thesis.

Jim Longworth

--- Frank Stamford <frank.stamford@...> wrote:


Well if you are seeking the "best" gauge for a public railway
carrying
passengers and freight, I thought that question was settled in
about 1835 -
it is 1435 mm.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an
economic
disaster!

But all those economic disasters produced some wonderful
fascinating
material for organisations like the LRRSA to write about, and for
numerous
societies around the world to preserve.

George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railways" (Stanford
University Press, 1990) covers this subject very well In the early
sections of that book he covers the world-wide development of
different
gauges, and goes into the economics of it very thoroughly.

Frank


Frank Stamford
 

Jim,

Looking at Australia as a continent isolated from every other railway
system, I agree that 3 ft 6 in gauge would have been completely successful
as a national railway gauge, and certainly infinitely better than the mess
that we have been inflicted with.

However Hilton and others claim that the alleged difference in cost between
narrow gauges and standard gauge is greatly overstated. There is good
evidence for that - I think - in the way that vast mileages of very light
standard-gauge-ish railways were built in the USA at very low cost, and
then upgraded as traffic warranted. (They still didn't get the gauge right,
as they were using gauges of 4 ft 6 in, 4 ft 8-1/2 in, 5 ft, 5 ft 6 in, and
6ft and others, but the point is they were building very cheap railways
which were not narrow-gauge).

You correctly say that NSW railways were plunged into an enormous capital
debt. But I do not think that was much related to the choice of gauge, for
it was true of every state of Australia.

I agree that John Whitton grossly over-engineered the railways. The same
was true of the early railways in Victoria and South Australia. But the
money wasted was not in the gauge, it was in the civil engineering. It
would have been better for the Colonial governments at the time to have
brought in American railway engineers. That way much greater mileages of
track could have been built quicker, and upgraded as the traffic built up.
(The downside of that is that we would not have been left with all the
magnificent buildings, bridges, and tunnel mouths from that era, they would
have all either fallen down or been replaced, and all the early locos would
have been 4-4-0s!).

By the way, I think I was just a little over-the-top in saying "EVERY
deviation from it was an
economic DISASTER" .

Regards,

Frank

At 11:47 PM 11/02/2007, you wrote:

Frank et. al.

Given the size of the 3ft 6in gauge network in Queensland; Tasmainia;
South Australia; Northern Teritory; Western Australia, i wonder
whether the selection of 4ft 8 1/2in was the 'Best Gauge' for
Australian railways?

I suspect that adopting standard gauge in Australia was more a result
of a powerful engineering technician in John Whitton, and later inter-
state politicing than technical suitability for the Australian
railway task!

Adopting standard gauge, rather than a narrower gauge, contributed to
plunging NSW railways into enormous capital debt. A narrower gauge
would have been cheaper to build,so be easier to pay-off. A narrower
gauge would have been cheaper to operate, so make running the network
easier make pay. Standard gauge contributed towards crippling the
railway accounts. Until recently many NSW trains were characterised
as 'little trains running on a little railway'(S. Sharp, pers dis).
Few trains paid a return on standard gauge track. Reducing the gauge
by 1ft 2 1/2in may well have produced a railway more in natural scale
to the transport task that was to be performed here. In NSW standard
gauge was an economic disaster!

John Kerr reckoned that the narrow gauge triumphed in Queensland!

The question would make an interesting counterfactual PhD thesis.

Jim Longworth

--- Frank Stamford <frank.stamford@...> wrote:


Well if you are seeking the "best" gauge for a public railway
carrying
passengers and freight, I thought that question was settled in
about 1835 -
it is 1435 mm.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an
economic
disaster!

But all those economic disasters produced some wonderful
fascinating
material for organisations like the LRRSA to write about, and for
numerous
societies around the world to preserve.

George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railways" (Stanford
University Press, 1990) covers this subject very well In the early
sections of that book he covers the world-wide development of
different
gauges, and goes into the economics of it very thoroughly.

Frank


B.Rumary
 

wrote:

I beg to differ regarding peat railways. In Britain, there were far more 2ft
gauge peat railways than 2ft 6ins and 3ft, and in Germany, where peat railways
became an art form, 600mm gauge was generally de rigeur IIRC.
Although the majority of German peat lines are 600mm gauge, some of the bigger
systems used 900mm. There were also a few of 700mm gauge, but these seem to have
been built by Dutch companies and I think they have now all gone (700mm was a
common industrial gauge in Holland). There were also a few other odd gauges used
for peat lines, such as 750mm and 1000mm and even the really odd 880mm!

Brian Rumary, England

www.rumary.co.uk


Bill Bolton
 

On Sun, 11 Feb 2007 12:47:22 -0000, Jim Longworth wrote:

Reducing the gauge by 1ft 2 1/2in may well have produced a
railway more in natural scale to the transport task that
was to be performed here. In NSW standard gauge was an
economic disaster!
I am quite certain that Sydney region commuters will not agree with
your assertion.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Bolton
Sydney, Australia


Michael J
 

I think it worth remembering the Australian context was very different
to other countries.

We are all attuned to thinking that Australia had a sparse network of
railways, because of our small population and vast distances.
Certainly this data from the Australian Yearbook in 1920 supports
that. The yearbook compares different countries, giving a figure of
miles of railway per 1000 square miles of land area:

Australia 8.73
India 20.16
United Kingdom 195.05
United States 89.57

Of course it is people that buy tickets and dispatch freight, not
square miles of land, so the yearbook also compared miles of railway
per 1000 persons:

Australia 4.9
India 0.12
United Kingdom 0.5
United States 2.53

So the average Australian had to support twice as much railway line as
the average American, and almost 10 times as much as the average Brit.
No wonder State governments discouraged competition! BTW, Australia
had the highest density of any of the 20 or so countries mentioned in
the article, with only Canada coming close.

OTOH India had both a low density in both categories. This combined
with low transfer costs due to low labour costs, probably explains why
India's narrow gauge lines were quite sucessful.

Michael J


longworthjim
 

Frank

I agree that railway over capitalisation resulted from many sources,
with gauge being one of several contributors. Railways so
revolutionised land transport in overcomming the tyranny of distance
that cost implications were swamped by the slashed travel times.
Months on the road with a bullock team were literally cut to hours on
a train. There was little competition in performing the land
transport task. We now see the railway from a vastly different
perspective. With our different view comes comparing the railway with
concerns indiscernable during the great railway years.

Light American engineering would have been cheaper to build and be
more readily abandoned when the traffic failed to develope as
proponents claimed it would. If traffic did build up, then the light
line could have been upgraded, saving further small but worth having
funds. I argue that now in our post-railway era, 3ft 6in gauge would
have left us with more kilometres of open railway.

The railway was not seriously expected to make a proffit. Some
critiques said lines should pay their way, but in NSW Government
built lines for many reasons other than making the railway business
proffitable. Lines were highly political, often to secure votes from
areas. Many were described as developmental, in the hope they might
stimulate business. Some did some didn't. As with much British
engineering, NSW railways were built to last for a long time.
Builders could not concieve of the railway being superceeded by a
better transport technology. Gaining a line was seen as a great boost
in town prestige. Freight rates were cross-subsidised to assist
primary industry. Primary industry came to depend on cheap rates.
Passenger fares were cross-subsidised to share metropolitan benefits
with country communities, who thought they were travelling the longer
distances. The railway was seen as a mass employer. Government,
railway administrators, and communities all expected the railway to
be run as a so-called 'public service'. That was not just lip
service, but a significant ideology to be found in many spheres of
traditional Australian culture.

Seriously expecting the railway to pay seems to be a modern idea,
probably based on neo-liberal economic theory. Public shareholder
value is quite different to private shareholder value, yet the latter
seems to be being applied to the former.

Cheers
Jim

--- In LRRSA@yahoogroups.com.au, Frank Stamford <frank.stamford@...>
wrote:


Jim,

Looking at Australia as a continent isolated from every other
railway
system, I agree that 3 ft 6 in gauge would have been completely
successful
as a national railway gauge, and certainly infinitely better than
the mess
that we have been inflicted with.

However Hilton and others claim that the alleged difference in cost
between
narrow gauges and standard gauge is greatly overstated. There is
good
evidence for that - I think - in the way that vast mileages of very
light
standard-gauge-ish railways were built in the USA at very low cost,
and
then upgraded as traffic warranted. (They still didn't get the
gauge right,
as they were using gauges of 4 ft 6 in, 4 ft 8-1/2 in, 5 ft, 5 ft 6
in, and
6ft and others, but the point is they were building very cheap
railways
which were not narrow-gauge).

You correctly say that NSW railways were plunged into an enormous
capital
debt. But I do not think that was much related to the choice of
gauge, for
it was true of every state of Australia.

I agree that John Whitton grossly over-engineered the railways. The
same
was true of the early railways in Victoria and South Australia. But
the
money wasted was not in the gauge, it was in the civil engineering.
It
would have been better for the Colonial governments at the time to
have
brought in American railway engineers. That way much greater
mileages of
track could have been built quicker, and upgraded as the traffic
built up.
(The downside of that is that we would not have been left with all
the
magnificent buildings, bridges, and tunnel mouths from that era,
they would
have all either fallen down or been replaced, and all the early
locos would
have been 4-4-0s!).

By the way, I think I was just a little over-the-top in
saying "EVERY
deviation from it was an
economic DISASTER" .

Regards,

Frank




At 11:47 PM 11/02/2007, you wrote:

Frank et. al.

Given the size of the 3ft 6in gauge network in Queensland;
Tasmainia;
South Australia; Northern Teritory; Western Australia, i wonder
whether the selection of 4ft 8 1/2in was the 'Best Gauge' for
Australian railways?

I suspect that adopting standard gauge in Australia was more a
result
of a powerful engineering technician in John Whitton, and later
inter-
state politicing than technical suitability for the Australian
railway task!

Adopting standard gauge, rather than a narrower gauge, contributed
to
plunging NSW railways into enormous capital debt. A narrower gauge
would have been cheaper to build,so be easier to pay-off. A
narrower
gauge would have been cheaper to operate, so make running the
network
easier make pay. Standard gauge contributed towards crippling the
railway accounts. Until recently many NSW trains were characterised
as 'little trains running on a little railway'(S. Sharp, pers dis).
Few trains paid a return on standard gauge track. Reducing the
gauge
by 1ft 2 1/2in may well have produced a railway more in natural
scale
to the transport task that was to be performed here. In NSW
standard
gauge was an economic disaster!

John Kerr reckoned that the narrow gauge triumphed in Queensland!

The question would make an interesting counterfactual PhD thesis.

Jim Longworth

--- Frank Stamford <frank.stamford@> wrote:


Well if you are seeking the "best" gauge for a public railway
carrying
passengers and freight, I thought that question was settled in
about 1835 -
it is 1435 mm.

No doubt about that in my mind, every deviation from it was an
economic
disaster!

But all those economic disasters produced some wonderful
fascinating
material for organisations like the LRRSA to write about, and
for
numerous
societies around the world to preserve.

George W. Hilton's book "American Narrow Gauge Railways"
(Stanford
University Press, 1990) covers this subject very well In the
early
sections of that book he covers the world-wide development of
different
gauges, and goes into the economics of it very thoroughly.

Frank


Bill Bolton
 

On Tue, 13 Feb 2007 11:41:49 -0000, Jim wrote:

Light American engineering would have been cheaper to build and be
more readily abandoned when the traffic failed to develope as
proponents claimed it would.
"Light engineering" (steep grades and sharp curves) was generally an
attribute of most NSWGR lines, and has been a continual problem over
the decades, hence the push for the new inland route would bypass it.

I argue that now in our post-railway era, 3ft 6in gauge would
have left us with more kilometres of open railway.
Lack of traffic is lack of traffic, no matter what the gauge.

Seriously expecting the railway to pay seems to be a modern idea,
probably based on neo-liberal economic theory.
There is nothing "neo", "liberal" or "theoretical" about it as an
economic practice.

Public shareholder value is quite different to private shareholder
value, yet the latter seems to be being applied to the former.
"Public shareholder value" is often nothing more than a subsidy to
sectional interests. Its "valuable" to the sectional interests who
benefit but not to the public at large who bear the cost of the
subsidy.

Reading the debates on the railway and tramways bills in the NSW
Parliament around the turn of the last century in often very
instructive. The building of now long closed country branch lines
(that were never an economic proposition by *any* possible measure)
often occurred at the cost of not building urban railway
infrastructure that would have still been very much in use.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Bolton
Sydney, Australia


Hunslet
 

At 10:41 PM 13/02/2007, you wrote:

Light American engineering would have been cheaper to build and be
more readily abandoned when the traffic failed to develope as
proponents claimed it would. If traffic did build up, then the light
line could have been upgraded, saving further small but worth having
funds.


It could be said that this was applied in NSW with the construction of a number of country branches as "pioneer lines" with 60 lbs rail, no ballast and no fencing. In more recent years, some of these lines have been upgraded.

Then there was the Blacktown-Richmond line, constructed (in 1864 from memory) to almost light tramway standards, requiring the lightest of locomotives to work the line. Contemporary reports were of services having to be worked by three locomotives at one, so it is not surprising that the line was soon upgraded to take the "normal" locomotives of the time. The Yass "tramway" was similarly constructed.

Also, there were to Campbelltown-Camden and East Maitland-Morpeth branches that were originally built to be operated by Sydney suburban steam tram motors, with a match wagon so that the motor could haul normal freight wagons. Again, these linese were soon upgraded to allow the use of heavier locomotives.

Hunslet.

Hunslet.