World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Indian Gauge

Article Id: WHEBN0021772652
Reproduction Date:

Title: Indian Gauge  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Metre gauge, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Samjhauta Express, Grand Crimean Central Railway
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Indian Gauge

Track gauges
General concepts
Track gauge · Break-of-gauge ·

Dual gauge · Conversion (list·
Bogie exchange · Variable gauge

By transport mode
Tram · Rapid transit · High-speed rail
Miniature · Scale model
By size (list)

  Breitspurbahn 3,000 mm (9 ft 10 18 in)
  Brunel 2,140 mm (7 ft 14 in)
  Indian 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
  Iberian 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)
  Irish 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
  Pennsylvania 1,588 mm
1,581 mm
(5 ft 2 12 in)
(5 ft 2 14 in)
  Russian 1,524 mm
1,520 mm
(5 ft)
(4 ft 11 2732)

  Standard 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

  Scotch 1,372 mm (4 ft 6 in)
  Cape 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  Metre 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
  Three foot 914 mm (3 ft)
  Imperial and Bosnian 762 mm
760 mm
750 mm
(2 ft 6 in)
(2 ft 5 1516 in)
(2 ft 5 12 in)
  2 ft and 600mm 610 mm
600 mm
597 mm
(2 ft)
(1 ft 11 58 in)
(1 ft 11 12 in)

  Fifteen-inch 381 mm (15 in)
By location
North America · South America · Europe

Indian gauge, , is a broad track gauge commonly used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Chile. It's also the gauge that is used on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), in the San Francisco Bay Area, United States.


This gauge was first used in Scotland for two short, isolated lines, the Dundee and Arbroath Railway (1836-1847) and the Arbroath and Forfar Railway (1838- ).


In India, the Governor-General James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 10th Earl of Dalhousie determined that a wider gauge than standard gauge was more suitable for larger firebox and stability in high winds and long steep gradients.

"The first agreement of the Government of India with East Indian Railway Company and Great Indian Peninsula Company in 1849 stipulated that railways in India would be built on a four feet, eight and half inches gauge. However, soon there were disagreements with Lord Dalhousie favoring a six feet gauge and Mr. Simms, the consulting engineer favoring five feet and six inches gauge. Gauge is the distance between two rails. The debate was finally settled in favor of the five and half feet gauge, called the broad gauge in 1850s and the first train that ran from Bombay to Thane ran on broad gauge." (The Indian Express News Service : Thu Jul 02 2009, 00:40 hrs)[1]

In the late 20th century, India adopted Project Unigauge. Gauge conversion towards Indian gauge is underway, replacing several narrow gauges and meter gauges.

North America


In the 1850s it was first used in Canada, and was then used in other British colonies. It was known as the "Provincial gauge" in Canada. Having a break-of-gauge was seen as having defence value, the War of 1812 still being a fresh memory. The Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad was laid in 1836 to gauge.

The Grand Trunk Railway which operated in several Canadian provinces (Quebec and Ontario) and American states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) used it, but changed to standard gauge by 1873. The Grand Trunk Railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; but corporate headquarters were in London, England. The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad which operated in Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine also used it and was converted in 1873.

United States

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system uses Indian gauge. The New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad (NOO&GW) used Indian gauge until 1872, and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad used Indian gauge ("Texas gauge") until 1876. The Grand Trunk Railway predecessor St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad which operated in Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine also used Indian gauge ("Canadian gauge" or "Portland gauge") and was converted in 1873. Several Maine railroads connected to the Grand Trunk Railway shared its "Portland Gauge". The Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad and the Buckfield Branch Railroad were later consolidated as the Maine Central Railroad which converted to standard gauge in 1871. The only electric streetcar system in the U.S. to use this gauge was that of Fairfield, Maine.

John A. Poor's chief engineer Alvin C. Morton compiled the following advantages of "Portland Gauge" for Maine railways in 1847:[2]

  • Frost heaves (swelling of wet soil upon freezing) produce an uneven running surface causing an irregular rocking motion as trains moved past. A wider wheelbase offered a steadier ride with less wear and tear on machinery and roadbed.
  • Wider cars offered more room for passengers and cargo. Train length would be reduced for cars carrying more cargo. Shorter trains would lessen the effects of side winds, and permit more efficient application of power.
  • Wide gauge locomotives offered more room to place reciprocating machinery inside, rather than outside the driving wheels. Reciprocating machinery was a source of vibration before mechanical engineering encompassed a good understanding of dynamics; and keeping such vibration close to the center of mass reduced the angular momentum causing rocking.
  • Wider fireboxes and boilers allowed more powerful locomotives. The alternative of longer boilers held the disadvantage of poor firebox draft through the increased frictional resistance of longer boiler tubes.
  • More powerful locomotives carrying fewer, larger cars would have reduced manpower requirement for engine crews and shop personnel.
  • For locomotives of equal power, fuel consumption increased as gauge decreased, especially in colder outside temperatures.
  • More powerful wide gauge locomotives would be more capable for plowing snow; and thereby provide more reliable winter service.
  • Several gauges were in widespread use, and none had yet come into clear dominance.
  • Freight transfer was preferable to exchange of cars between railways because unowned cars were abused on foreign railways.
  • The Grand Trunk Railway system feeding the seaport of Portland, Maine offered little need for gauge transfer prior to loading on export shipping.
  • Potential advantages of freight transfer to the standard gauge railroad from Portland to Boston seemed insignificant as long as competitive rates were available for transport on steamships between the two ports.
  • The majority of Canadian freight anticipated to be carried over rail lines to Portland was heavy and bulky in comparison to its value, and must be transported cheaply in large quantities to maintain profitability for producers and transporters.


Country/region Notes
Argentina Almost all lines America Latina Logistica,[3] (Railroad Development Corporation[4]) (former San Martín line), Sarmiento line,
Nuevo Central Argentino (former Mitre line) and Ferrosur Roca
(former Ferrocarril General Roca), except Urquiza and Belgrano
Bangladesh Bangladesh Railway
Canada Grand Trunk Railway, St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad and the
Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad until 1873, Specific names, Provincial gauge
Grand Trunk Railway of Canada[5]
Intercolonial Railway of Canada until 1875. See also Canada.
Chile Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado
India Major routes of Indian Railways, Delhi Metro (some lines), Kolkata Metro; The other metro lines are standard gauge.
Pakistan Now only Broad gauge railway lines are operational in Pakistan Railways network. Few Metre gauge & Narrow gauge railway lines have converted into Broad gauge and remaining have been abandoned or dismantled.
Paraguay The Ferrocarril Presidente Don Carlos Antonio Lopez from Asunción to Encarnación was originally laid in this gauge, in the hope that the connecting line from Posadas to Buenos Aires would be built to the same gauge; alas, this line was laid to standard gauge, and when the FCPCAL reached Encarnación in 1912 the whole line had to be re-gauged to standard gauge to allow through-working.
Scotland Two early (1830s) linked railways around Arbroath, (see Scotch gauge)
Sri Lanka All of the rail tracks in Sri Lanka is in Indian gauge now. Two narrow gauge tracks were there. NG tracks were completely removed now.
United States Maine Central Railroad until 1871; Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), San Francisco Bay Area.
Russia (Crimea) Grand Crimean Central Railway built for the British Army besieging Sevastopol during the Crimean War (1854-1855).

Similar similar

Iberian gauge () is similar.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.