- Project Unigauge
Project Unigauge is an ongoing exercise of the
Indian Railwaysto standardise most of the rail gauge in Indiatowards a single 1676 mm (5 ft 6 in) wide broad gauge network.
Indian currently has significant quantities of four different incompatible gauges. The railways consist of around 42,000 km of broad gauge (BG) railway, 17,000 km of
metre gauge(MG) and an assortment of narrow gauge lines.Indian Railways Fan Club, [http://www.irfca.org/faq/faq-gauge.html Railway Gauges in India] .]
The project started around 1980. It was concluded that towns and cities on the metre (MG) and narrow gauge (NG) lines had a poorer service than equivalent towns on the broad gauge system. Conversion of lines to broad gauge would make the broad gauge more efficient and with more capacity, with many regauged links providing short cuts for broad gauge traffic.
Weight of rail
An alternative way to reduce construction costs during conversion is to use lighter track and lighter rails. Railway rails are expensive and lighter rails achieve significant cost savings.
Lighter rails can only carry lighter engines and rolling stock, but since traffic is generally less, this is not a problem. Light engines can travel on heavy main lines, but not visa versa. If needs be light track can be gradually upgraded to heavy duty track. An intermediate stage is to allow heavier engines to operate on lighter track at reduced speed.
Varying the strength of the rails, but keeping the gauge constant, could have been done instead and potentially avoiding the current
break of gauges.
Undertaking project Unigauge requires more than just changing the spacing between the rails. Existing sleepers may be too short and have to be replaced, even though these sleepers may not be life expired. Bogies on rolling stock would have to be replaced to fit the new gauge. Since the width of the previous passenger carriages are narrower than broad gauge ones, the gap between the platform and carriage may cause problems. Either the gap may be too large and thus unsafe, or broad gauge rolling stock is likely to hit the old platforms.
However, eliminating breaks of gauge improves
rolling stockutilisation and therefore saves on the quantity of rolling stock required. Excess metre gauge rolling stock, much of it modern and in good condition, has a ready second-handmarket in many other metre gauge railways around the World.
Railway Gazette InternationalSupplement December 2007 p7.
Break of gauge
* [http://www.hinduonnet.com/2004/12/21/stories/2004122104080600.htm Unigauge sorely needed in Southern Railway]
* [http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/biz/2002/02/21/stories/2002022100140100.htm - Does privatisation provide the answer? ]
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