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Scotch gauge

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Title: Scotch gauge  
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Subject: 3 ft gauge railways, Fifteen-inch gauge railway, Narrow-gauge railway, 5 ft and 1520 mm gauge railways, 5 ft 6 in gauge railway
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Scotch gauge

Track gauges
By transport mode
Tram · Rapid transit
Miniature · Scale model
By size (list)
Graphic list of track gauges

  Fifteen inch 381 mm (15 in)

  Two foot and
600 mm
597 mm
600 mm
603 mm
610 mm
(1 ft 11 12 in)
(1 ft 11 58 in)
(1 ft 11 34 in)
(2 ft)
  750 mm,
Two foot six inch,
800 mm
750 mm
760 mm
762 mm
800 mm
(2 ft 5 12 in)
(2 ft 5 1516 in)
(2 ft 6 in)
(2 ft 7 12 in)
  Swedish three foot,
900 mm,
Three foot
891 mm
900 mm
914 mm
(2 ft11 332 in)
(2 ft 11 716)
(3 ft)
  Metre 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
  Three foot six inch,
Cape, CAP, Kyōki
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  Four foot six inch 1,372 mm (4 ft 6 in)

  Standard 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

Five foot
1,520 mm
1,524 mm
(4 ft 11 2732 in)
(5 ft)
  Irish 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
  Iberian 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)
  Indian 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
  Brunel 2,140 mm (7 ft 14 in)
Change of gauge
Break-of-gauge · Dual gauge ·
Conversion (list· Bogie exchange · Variable gauge
By location
North America · South America · Europe
World map, rail gauge by region

The 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) track gauge was adopted by early 19th century railways mainly in the Lanarkshire area of Scotland, and is therefore also named Scotch gauge. From 1903, tram lines of Tokyo adopted this gauge.

It differed from the gauge of 4 ft 8 in (1,422 mm) that was used on some early lines in England. Early railways chose their own gauge, but later in the century interchange of equipment was facilitated by establishing a uniform rail gauge across railways: a so-called 'standard gauge' of 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm). In the early 1840s standard gauge lines began to be constructed in Scotland, and all the Scotch Gauge lines were eventually converted to standard gauge. The gauge was outlawed in Great Britain by law in 1846.

Scottish railways built to Scotch gauge

A flat bottomed and 15-foot (4.57 m) long section of Vignole rail from the Scotch gauge Ardrossan and Johnstone Railway.
A section of original 1831 Scotch Gauge track relaid at Eglinton Country Park in North Ayrshire.

A small number of early to mid 19th century passenger railways were built to Scotch gauge, they include:

Interestingly Robert Stephenson and Company built a Scotch gauge locomotive, the St. Rollox, for the Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway; which was later sold to the Paisley and Renfrew Railway.[1][3]

All the lines were later relaid in standard gauge.[1][3]

Other early 19th century Scottish gauges

4 ft 6½ in gauge

In addition to the above lines, there were three railways, authorised between 1822 and 1835, that were built in the Dundee area, to a gauge of 4 ft 6 12 in (1,384 mm). They were:

5 ft 6 in gauge

Grainger and Miller built another two railway lines in the same area to a gauge of 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm). Thomas Grainger is said to have chosen this gauge, since he regarded 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge as being too narrow and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge as being too wide.[1] They were:

End of Scotch gauge

The Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway and the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway, which both obtained Parliamentary Approval on 15 July 1837 and were later to become part of the Glasgow and South Western Railway and the Caledonian Railway, respectively, were built to standard gauge from the start.[1]

The Great Britain after 1846.

Use in Japan

Keiō Line train on 1,372 mm (4 ft 6 in) gauge track

After the end of Scotch gauge in Britain, the gauge revived in Japan. Since 1903, most of tram network in Tokyo was built with 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) rail gauge, called "coach gauge" (馬車軌間 Basha Kikan). The use of this gauge extended to other suburban lines that projected through services to the city tram. Although Tokyo has abolished its major tram network, as of 2009, the following lines still use this gauge:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Whishall (2nd Edition)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Popplewell
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Awdry (1990)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Robertson (1983)
  5. ^ a b c d e Robertson
  6. ^ a b c d e f Tetsudō Yōran


  • Awdry, Christopher (1990). Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies. London: Guild Publishing.
  • Robertson, C.J.A. (1983). The Origins of the Scottish Railway System: 1722-1844. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers. ISBN 0-85976-088-X.
  • Thomas, John (1971). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. Volume 6 Scotland: The Lowlands and the Borders. Newton Abbott: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-5408-6.
  • Popplewell, Lawrence (1989). A Gazetteer of the Railway Contractors and Engineers of Scotland 1831 - 1870. (Vol. 1: 1831 - 1870 and Vol. 2: 1871 - 1914). Bournemouth: Melledgen Press. ISBN 0-906637-14-7.
  • Whishaw, Francis (1842). The Railways of Great Britain and Ireland practically described and illustrated. Second Edition. London: John Weale. Reprinted and republished 1969, Newton Abbott: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-4786-1.
  • Tetsudō Kyoku,  
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