||This article possibly contains original research. (July 2008)|
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Russian Gauge is the second most common gauge in the world, after 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) (standard gauge). Short sections of Russian gauge extend into Poland, eastern Slovakia, Sweden (at the Finnish border at Haparanda), and northern Afghanistan.
There is an approximately 150 km long section in Hungary in the Záhony logistics area close to the Ukrainian border. During the recent renovation a 32 km section of dual Standard/Russian gauge was installed between Tumangang and Rajin stations in the DPRK.
1,524 mm (5 ft) was approved as the new standard on September 12, 1842.
Imperial Russia chose a gauge broader than standard gauge, widely believed to be for military reasons, to prevent potential invaders from using the rail system, but no clear standard had emerged by 1842.
Engineer Pavel Melnikov hired George Washington Whistler, a prominent American railway engineer (and father of the artist James McNeill Whistler), as consultant on the building of Russia's first major railway, the Moscow – Saint Petersburg Railway. The selection of 1,500 mm (4 ft 11 1⁄16 in) gauge was recommended by German and Austrian engineers but not adopted: it was not the same as the 1,524 mm (5 ft) gauge in common use in the southern United States at the time.
Whistler was a proponent of a broader gauge and his efforts helped in lobbying for the new gauge. It is quite possible that an "invasion" argument (alleging that it is easier to adapt trains to a narrower gauge than to a broader gauge) was used in lobbying since the Russian military was closely supervising the construction, but it is unlikely that such an argument was made by Melnikov during the selection process. Nazi Germany suffered problems with its supply lines during World War II as a result of the break-of-gauge, but also because bridges had been destroyed.
Besides using the 5-foot gauge within Russian Empire, Russian engineers used it on the Chinese Eastern Railway, built in the closing years of the 19th century across the Northeastern China entry to provide a shortcut for the Transsiberian Railway to Vladivostok. The railway's southern branch, from Harbin via Changchun to Lüshun, used the Russian gauge, but as a result of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 its southernmost section (from Changchun to Lüshun) was lost to the Japanese, who promptly regauged it to standard gauge (after using the narrow Japanese gauge for a short time during the war). This formed a break of gauge between Changchun and Kuancheng (the station just to the north of Changchun, still in Russian hands), until the rest of the former Chinese Eastern Railway was converted to standard gauge, too (in the 1930s?).
Unlike in South Manchuria, the Soviet Union's reconquest of southern Sakhalin from Japan did not result in regauging of the railway system. Southern Sakhalin have continued with the original Japanese 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge simultaneously with the Russian gauge railway, constructed in the northern part of the island in 1930-1932 (Moskalvo-Okha). The railway has no fixed connection with the mainland, and rail cars coming from the mainland port of Vanino on the train ferry (operating since 1973) have their bogies changed in the Sakhalin port of Kholmsk. In 2004 and 2008 plans were put forward to convert to Russian gauge. The estimated completion date now is 2030.
Russia and most of the former Russian Empire (including the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, the Caucasian and Central Asian republics) and the once Soviet-influenced Mongolia have the Russian gauge of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in), 4 mm (5⁄32 in) narrower than 1,524 mm (5 ft), though rolling stock is interchangeable in practice. The railways of Finland, from 1809 till 1917 a Russian Grand Duchy, retain the nominal 1524 mm gauge, with a short section of dual 1524/1435 gauge to Haparanda in Sweden.
There are proposals for plans for north-south and east-west lines in Afghanistan, with construction to commence in 2013, to be built to 1520 mm gauge
Use in rapid transit and light rail systems
Although broad gauge is quite rare on lighter railways and street tramways worldwide, almost all tramways in ex-USSR are broad gauge (according to terminology in use in these countries, gauges narrower than 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) are considered to be narrow). Many tramway networks built to narrow gauges (750 or 1000 mm) were converted to broad gauge. As of 2012, only three out of 63 tram systems in Russia are not broad gauge (1000 mm in Kaliningrad and Pyatigorsk, 1435 mm in Rostov-on-Don).
The former Soviet Union is the largest operator of first-generation tramways in the world, and has been for many years. The St Petersburg network has some of the world's widest trams, and the widest in Europe (European trams are generally narrower than European buses and trains and also trams elsewhere such as America and Australia).
In the late 1960s the gauge was redefined to 1520 mm in the Soviet Union. At the same time the tolerances were lessened to increase speed.
In Finland Finnish State Railways kept the original definition of 1524 mm, even though they also have lessened the tolerances in a similar way.
Estonia after independence redefined its track gauge to 1524 mm to match Finland's. The redefinitions did not mean that a lot of actual railways or rolling stock were changed. It was more a rule change regarding new and renovated tracks. See Track gauge in Estonia.
Finland allows its gauge to be 1514–1554 mm (less tolerance for higher speed).
If the gauge of the rolling stock is kept with certain limits, through running between 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) railways and Finnish 1,524 mm (5 ft) railways is allowed. Since both 1520 and 1524 are well within tolerances, the difference can be said to be mostly a paper difference.
Outside the Russian Empire
The Panama Railway was originally 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge. When it was rebuilt in 2000 the gauge was changed to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) to use standard gauge equipment. The original gauge was chosen under the influence of the pre-conversion southern United States railway companies.
Many of the railroads in the Southern United States before the American Civil War used 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge in addition to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge. The presence of several distinct gauges was a major disadvantage to the Confederate States of America in its war effort.
That is 5 ft (1,524 mm).
|Sweden||Only a small freight yard in Haparanda. Used for exchanging cargo with Finnish trains.|
|United States||The South (except in Florida, which used 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) Scotch gauge) - until May 31, 1886. See Track gauge in the United States.|
|Panama||Panama Railway prior to conversion to standard gauge in 2000 to suit off-the-shelf supply.|
|Former Soviet Union||Prior to narrowing the gauge on the paper by 4 mm to 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) and narrowing the tolerances; the railways and the rolling stock were adjusted only when needed or upgraded|
That is 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in).
|Bulgaria||Only at Varna ferry terminal for train ferries to Odessa and Poti; dual gauge track for changing wagon bogies with standard gauge ones, and parallel transhipping tracks of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge.|
|Germany||Only at Sassnitz/Mukran ferry terminal for freight train ferries to Turku, Klaipėda and Baltijsk.|
|Hong Kong||Peak Tram|
|Mongolia||Rail transport in Mongolia|
|North Korea||A short 32-km stretch of 1,435/1,520 mm dual gauge between Tumangang and Rajin Stations.|
|Poland||Almost exclusively on the Broad Gauge Metallurgy Line|
|Slovakia||Only on the "Širokorozchodná trať" (Uzhhorod -)Maťovce - Haniska pri Košiciach) and from the border station of Dobrá pri Čiernej nad Tisou to Ukraine, both operated by ZSSK Cargo.
In 2008, the 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) gauge was proposed for a new line from Košice to Bratislava, eventually as far to Vienna.
- "Paravoz". Archived from the original on 11 January 2013., retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Russian Railways, Broad Gauge Track-1520, retrieved 2008-07-20.
- 1520 Strategic Partnership, About gauge 1520, retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Construction of Afghan railway launched". Railway Gazette International. 2010-01-27.
- "Khasan-Rajin line renovation". ITAR TASS. 2013-09-22.
- Luis Jackson, Industrial Commissioner of the Erie Railway. "Rambles in Japan and China". In Railway and Locomotive Engineering, vol. 26 (March 1913), pp. 91-92
- "Provisional Convention ... concerning the junction of the Japanese and Russian Railways in Manchuria" - June 13, 1907. Endowment for International Peace (2009). Manchuria: Treaties and Agreements. BiblioBazaar, LLC. p. 108. ISBN 1-113-11167-4.
- Сахалинская узкоколейная железная дорога (The narrow-gauge railways of Sakhalin) (Russian)
- Sakhalin to be converted to Russian gauge
- Estonian railways today, p. 32
- http://rhk-fi-bin.directo.fi/@Bin/bef1003bfeb4366c62ae5a2096b67db0/1241375502/application/pdf/2135517/SIIRRETTY%20Verkkoselostus2008_GB.pdf Finnish Network Statement 2008, see chapter 126.96.36.199
- "Allegro high speed Pendolino train at Finland station in St Petersburg". Alstom. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
- Confederate railroads in the American Civil War
- "Slovaks eye 4.3 bln euro railway for Russian goods" (Reuters, Thursday April 3, 2008)
- Broad Gauge Track-1520 eng.rzd.ru
- 1520 Strategic Partnership www.forum1520.com
- "Railway gauge width : 1 519 / 1 520 / 1 524 / 1 525". Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. www.parovoz.com