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Conversion (list) · Bogie exchange · Variable gauge
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Bogie exchange is a system for operating railway wagons on two or more gauges to overcome difference in the track gauge. To perform a bogie exchange, a car is converted from one gauge to another by removing the chassis containing the wheels and axles of the car, and installing a new chassis with differently spaced wheels. It is generally limited to wagons and carriages, though diesel engines can be exchanged if enough time is available.
- 1 Wagons and carriages
- 2 Engines
- 3 Raising or lowering
- 4 International
- 5 Transfer time
- 6 Variable gauge axles
- 7 Axle exchange
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Wagons and carriages
Bogie wagons can have their gauge changed by lifting them off one set of bogies and putting them back down again on another set of bogies. The pin that centres the bogies and the hoses and fittings for the brakes must be compatible. A generous supply of bogies of each gauge is needed to accommodate the ebb and flow of traffic. The bogies and wagons also need to have standardized hooks, etc., where they may be efficiently lifted. Four-wheel wagons are not suitable for gauge change.
Steam engines can be designed for more than one gauge, by having, for example, reversible wheel hubs that suit two alternative gauges. This was done in the 1930s and beyond in Victoria for possible gauge conversion, though no engines were ever converted in this manner other than one heritage engine (R766). Some 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) Garratt locomotives of East Africa were designed for easy conversion to 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge, though again none ever was.
In the southern United States, some steam locomotives built by Baldwin were designed for easy conversion from 1,524 mm (5 ft) to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in).
Diesel locomotives have bogies like wagons and carriages, only with more cables for the traction motors and take a little longer to convert. In Australia, some classes of diesel locomotives are regularly gauge-converted to suit traffic requirements on the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in), 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in), and 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) networks.
Since the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) networks are not all connected to each other, being separated by deserts or lines of other gauges, they are bogie-exchanged or piggybacked on road or rail vehicles when transferred between these networks.
Raising or lowering
The simplest way to carry out bogie exchange is to lift the wagons off the bogies and replace them back on new bogies. This may require the wagons in a train to be uncoupled, and continuous brakes disconnected. As the bogies are swung out of the way, they sway, which wastes time settling them down.
Another way of carrying out bogie exchange is to lower the bogies onto a trolley in a pit, after which the trolleys are rolled out of the way and others return. This keeps the train couplings and continuous brakes connected. In addition, the bogies never need leave a solid surface, so they can be wheeled in and out more quickly. This method was used at Dry Creek railway station, Adelaide.
Between 1961 and 1995, Australia had five bogie exchange centres, which opened and closed as gauge conversion work proceeded. The gauges served were 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in), though the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Queensland did acquire 100 bogie-exchange compatible QLX wagons just in case. All the wagons involved had wagon codes ending in "X", such as VLX.
The centres were:
- Dynon, Melbourne, Victoria
- Wodonga near Albury on state border.
- Port Pirie, South Australia 
- Peterborough, South Australia
- Dry Creek, Adelaide, South Australia - the youngest and most modern
The busiest facility was that at Dynon, in a typical year (1981–82), 24,110 wagons were bogie exchanged, an average of 66 per day. This was done by one shift of 18 men, compared with the 100 men required if the same amount of freight were transferred wagon to wagon.
- Brest, Belarus – between 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) at the border to Poland
Bogie exchange was used between 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge on the Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia Railway.
- Between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) of the former Newfoundland Railway (Terra Transport) at Port aux Basques
A bogie exchange station exists at the Chinese border to Mongolia. Both the Moscow-Beijing passenger train (Trans-Siberian) and freight trains get their bogies exchanged. Mongolia has Russian gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in), China has 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in). Also, a bogie exchange station was placed farther east at the Russian/Chinese border crossing at Zabaykalsk/Manzhouli.
A bogie exchange station exists in the Port of Turku with a short stretch of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge railway. Freight cars get their bogies exchanged. SeaRail train ferries go from Germany and Sweden. They carry no passenger trains, and passengers must walk by foot to Turku Harbour railway station opposite the ferry terminals. Finland has 1,524 mm (5 ft) broad gauge.
- Jolfa - c1950, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge)
- Sarakhs - c1990, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge)
- Zahedan - 2009, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) (Indian gauge)
- Baku - 2012, To be developed in Amirabad port, Caspian Sea, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge)
- Ungheni between 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in).
- Tumangan, North Korea – between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge) at the border to Russia.
The bogies of the direct sleeping car Moscow - Pyongyang, which runs twice monthly, are exchanged here. 
- Between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and 3 ft (914 mm) on the Ferrocarril Central Andino, including locomotives
- Vadul Siret between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) at the border with Ukraine.
- Halmeu between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) at the border with Ukraine.
- Ungheni between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) at the border with Moldova.
- Zabaikalsk (450 km from Chita) with China
- Grodekovo (116 km from Ussuriisk and 224 km from Vladivostok) with China
- Khasan - North Korea (315 km from Vladivostok).
- Kholmsk, Sakhalin Island. The bogie exchange is necessary to enable Russian mainland cars to run on the Sakhalin railways, which use the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge.
- At Irun, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in) (Iberian gauge)
- At Portbou, between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) and 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in)
- Between 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) (meter gauge), including locomotives
- Chop between 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) at the border to Hungary and Slovakia.
- Jagodin between 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) at the border to Poland.
Bogie exchange conversion times were:
- Dynon, Australia - one wagon every 7.3 minutes
- Zabaykalsk - one rail car takes 5–6 hours
- Erenhot - one rail car takes 5–6 hours
Variable gauge axles
Variable gauge axles in a automatic track gauge changeover system (ATGCS) is a newer and faster development than bogie exchange. While bogie exchange is "obvious" and brute force, VGA/ATGCS is "subtle, hidden", and elegant. The SUW 2000 ATGCS requires a changeover track about 20 m long, with a shed if snow is around compared to a small marshalling yard required by bogie exchange.
An alternative to variable gauge axles and bogie exchange is axle exchange.
- Catch Point - November 2007 - p35 - picture of lowering method
- Ian Patterson & Partners
- Technology in Australia 1788-1988, Chapter 7, page 477
- Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004. Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. p. page 224. ISBN 978-0-522-85134-2.
- Travelogue Vienna - Pyongyang via Tumangan
- Сахалинская узкоколейная железная дорога (The narrow-gauge railways of Sakhalin) (Russian)
- Media related to Track gauge changing at Wikimedia Commons
- Transfer of gauge, a useful railway invention - Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) Sunday 8 June 1902 Supplement, page 1