Factors Governing the Length of Rail
The standard rail lengths prescribed on Indian railways are given below:
- 12.80 m (42 ft) length for Broad gauge.
- 11.89 m (39 ft) length for Meter Gauge.
The length of rails is governed by the following factors:
1. Cost: The length of the rails is so chosen that the manufacturing cost is most reasonable.
2. Transportation: Transportation facilities available.
3. Train Speed and Capacity: The length of the rails also depends on the speed of the trains and the expected number of train operations per day. In the case of higher-speed trains, shorter rail length is best as it can prevent excessive vibration and likely safety hazards.
4. Maintenance and inspection: Smaller rail sections make it easier to identify and fix problems such as wear, cracks or damage. Whereas long lengths of rails require frequent inspection and maintenance as they are more likely to break, wear, or damage.
5. Lifting and handling: Lenth of the rail also depends on the facilities available for lifting and handling of the rails. Hence the length of the rails should be such that they do not pose any difficulty in lifting and handling.
6. Reasonable expansion gap at rail joints.