• Rail height question

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by Allen Hazen
Can someone tell me how high (from the base that rests on the tie to the top surface the wheels run on) one or another standard modern rail cross-section is?
(Curiosity roused by current construction of a new LRT route in Edmonton, AB. Rail used seems to be about seven inches high. The piece I measured against my hand was in an area of street running: the rail will be in troughs in the pavement, with only the running surface at "grade" level.)
  by BR&P
Allen, different rail sections can have differing dimensions, even within the same weight. If you knew what rail it was, you could look up the height. But there are several different profiles that would fit the "about 7 inches" description.

But 7 inches is probably in the 135-145 lb range. If you look along the web of the rail, it should be marked on there somewhere (assuming they still do that these days)
  by jwhite07
135-145 pound rail for a LRT line? That seems excessive in the extreme! That kind of rail weight is more suited for coal hauling main lines or high speed rail. I think the biggest rail weight ever produced was 155lb for the Pennsylvania Railroad's heaviest main lines.

The modern LRT applications I have been able to observe up close tend to have rail in the 112-115 pound range. As BR&P notes, dimensions vary for a number of reasons, so just going by the height of the rail from head to base might not be fully indicative of rail weight.
  by BR&P
Absolutely correct, Mr. White, and my bad for always thinking in terms of freight. You are right that the weight of transit equipment wouldn't come close to needing that heavy a rail.

I know nothing about transit trackage but as noted by both of us, rail height is just one of many dimensions that affect the overall weight of the rail. Other dimensions can include width and thickness of the base, web thickness, and profile of the rail head. Trim a little off one, change the radius of another, and it's quite possible to have rail 7" high which weighs way less than the example I gave.

I'm just speculating here, but since the OP says this will be for street running, the tall height may be needed to allow sufficient depth and strength for the pavement, rubber surface, concrete, or whatever will be used for the highway traffic.
  by neman2
115LB RE is 6 5/8" high, 130LB RE is 7 1/ 8" high . Looking for the mark on the web would be the way to find out. Even better getting in touch with the transit agency or the contractor and just ask. Transit agencies usually have their own unique specs.
  by Allen Hazen
Thanks for helpful replies! I assume the information is available from the transit authority... but not on the parts of their web site I found! I'll keep looking, but may have trouble finding data on the rail web: once the rail is placed in its trough, this would be obscured.
My impression is that street railway track has traditionally used heavier sections than the weight would suggest...
Neman 2: 130lb rail is... lighter than what would normally be used on North American main lines these days, and 115lb is a LOT lighter? And I suppose I should have taken a ruler with me to get the height more precisely!
I was told by someone working on the construction that the actual track design was by an Irish company: so maybe it is like what is used on Dublin's "Luas" light rail system.
  by neman2
There is no "standard modern rail cross section height" as you seem to be looking for, it depends on the type of rail as everyone has said. Just Google " rail section dimensions" and you will have a mind boggling list of dimensions. Using a ruler is not very precise, you need the manufacture specs or a micrometer. I know the Boston light rail system uses 115 lb rail with their own spec.
  by neman2
A quick google search turns up this quote from Railway Age article Feb 2020 for the Edmonton Valley Line -
"The line is being laid with 115-pound rail, installed either in poured concrete or by direct fixation. Crossties are only used in the yard. Special trackwork (turnouts) have been supplied by London (Ontario) Track Works."

Link to story-
https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/li ... d-ontario/

Google is your friend.
  by Allen Hazen
Thanks again! The "Railway Age" article was very informative.
  by neman2
No problem, glad to help out.