Gauntlet track

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Gauntlet track or interlaced track (also gantlet track) is an arrangement in which railway tracks run parallel on a single track bed and are interlaced (i.e., overlapped) such that only one pair of rails may be used at a time. Since this requires only slightly more width than a single track, all rails can be carried on the same crossties/sleepers. Trains run on the discrete pair of rails appropriate to their direction, track gauge or loading gauge.

The term gauntlet refers to the expression running the gauntlet, which means running between two confining rows of adversaries.[1][2]

Triple gauntlet track at Kaufungen, Germany. Wider mainline trains go down the centre; narrower trams switch either to the left, or right, to be closer to the relevant platform. Beyond the station, the rails return to single track.


Frog gauntlet (double-gauntlet-double)[edit]

Where two tracks converge into gauntlet track, they overlap rather than connect.

Gauntlet tracks can be used to provide horizontal clearance to a fixed obstruction adjacent to a track such as a cutting, bridge, or tunnel. Frog gauntlets are also commonly used when a rail line's capacity is increased by the provision of an additional track, but cost or other factors prevent the widening of the bridges. They are typically used for short stretches of track where it is cheaper to provide extra rails than to provide switches and reduce the line to single track. This also eliminates the problem of switch failures.

In a frog gauntlet, one rail crosses over a rail on the adjacent track. A frog is used to provide the flangeway for the crossing tracks. The train taking the gauntlet runs over the frog onto the parallel rails, passes through the gauntlet area, and passes over another frog to return to the original line. Since there are no points or other moving parts on a frog gauntlet track, a train operating on one of the tracks cannot be routed onto the other.

Because two trains cannot use the gauntlet at the same time, scheduling and signalling must allow for this restriction.

Point gauntlet/interlaced loop (single-gauntlet-single)[edit]

In a point gauntlet track, the rails for the two tracks do not need to cross, so no frog is required. The train taking the gauntlet runs over a set of switch points onto the parallel rails, passes through the gauntlet area, and passes over another set of switch points to return to the original line. This arrangement is used at the Roselle Park Station referenced below.

Interlaced loop with sprung catch point

At a small number of locations on single track lines in Britain, interlaced loops had been provided where sprung catch points were required because of the steep gradient.[3] The points at either end of the loop were set according to the train's direction of travel. Trains running uphill were routed via the loop incorporating the sprung catch point. Trains running downhill used the opposite loop, bypassing the catch point.


Where tracks diverge, a section of gauntlet track may be provided where the switches require to be located remote from the actual divergence. This arrangement is most commonly used on tram systems, to move the switches away from a heavily trafficked road. Usually for having a long platform between the switches and the separation. Trams can continue in both directions immediately after boarding without having to wait for the switch.

Dual-gauge track[edit]

An arrangement similar to gauntlet track is sometimes used to allow trains of different gauges to use the same track. In that case, the two interlaced tracks will have different gauges, sometimes sharing one of the rails for a total of three rails.

Examples worldwide[edit]


In Sydney, the Como railway bridge over the Georges River, between Oatley and Como, was built for single line in the 1880s. The line was duplicated soon after, except for that bridge. The bridge was fitted with gauntlet track, which needs no turnouts, and hence needs no signal box at the far end. The bridge was replaced with a double-track bridge in 1972.

Another example in Sydney is in the Railway Square road overbridge over the spur which leads from the connection between Redfern and the Darling Harbour goods station. This was a two-track tunnel (one of the oldest on the New South Wales railways), but became gauntlet track when the line was electrified to allow electric locomotive-hauled freight trains to access the former Darling Harbour. There was insufficient clearance in the tunnel to install overhead catenary above both tracks. This track formerly served the Darling Harbour goods yards and was disconnected from the rest of the corridor which now forms part of the Inner West Light Rail.

At a number of places, including on the Metropolitan Goods line near Campsie, a low-speed weighbridge was installed on some gauntlet track, with a high-speed route being available for trains not needing weighing on the other track.

In Melbourne, broad (1600 mm) and standard dual gauge gauntlet track is located within the passenger yard of Southern Cross station, and in platforms 1 and 2.[4] Those tracks also run on the Regional Rail Link flyover towards South Dynon yards. The northern section of the Upfield line, between the Ford sidings and Somerton, is also dual gauge gauntlet track.[5] On the Western standard gauge line from Melbourne towards Adelaide, dual gauge track can be found between the Geelong Harbour and Gheringhap, as well as along the Newport-Sunshine freight line in Melbourne.

In Brisbane, the dual gauge track for the XPT service to Sydney runs from Roma Street railway station across the Merivale Bridge on the suburban rail network until the North Coast line branches off at Acacia Ridge.


Gemmenich Tunnel and the route taken by wide loads passing through it

The Gemmenich Tunnel (German: Gemmenicher Tunnel, French: Tunnel de Botzelaer) passing under the Dreiländerpunkt (Three country point) has a special track layout to enable the passage of wide military loads. The double-track tunnel has a third set of rails interlaced with one of the normal tracks.[6] Active points (switches) at each end of the tunnel allow a train to divert along the central track, whilst other trains are blocked by signalling. The third track is rarely in use, so there is no limitation of capacity through the tunnel for standard-sized trains.

Close to where the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands come together, the interlaced tunnel section provides an important connection between Germany and the Belgian harbour at Antwerp. After completing the installation in 1991, trains with an oversize loading gauge were rerouted over this line, and the lightly used (but tunnel-free) secondary line between Stolberg and Welkenraedt (crossing the border at Raeren) was closed to freight traffic. Electric-hauled trains requiring use of the central track will get their power from the right track's (in travelling direction Germany to Belgium) overhead rail, which to that purpose is slightly further off-centre than normal. [7][8]

The Charleroi Pre-metro's Metro sections are entirely double-track, save for a short section along the Route de Mons, where a rail bridge abutment should have been moved to facilitate double track of premetro passing under it. Instead, a short section of gauntlet track is used. Behind the Anderlues depot of the Charleroi pre-metro there is an old-section of dual-gauge track, having both 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) metre gauge (tram/metro) and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge.This section is no longer used by tram nor rail.


CPR's Perry Island Bridge gauntlet track in Montreal, Quebec. The Bordeaux Railway Bridge is visible in the background.

Gauntlet track exists on the Perry Island Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge across the Rivière des Prairies between Montreal and Laval (Parc subdivision, mile 10.0) because the structure gauge is not sufficiently wide for double track. This bridge is used by freight trains of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the Chemins de Fer Québec-Gatineau (CFQG)[9] and by the Saint-Jérôme line suburban trains of the Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM).

Where the Ion LRT will be sharing tracks with off-cycle freight trains in Waterloo, Ontario, gauntlet tracks will be installed in station areas to shunt freight trains a safe distance from the platforms. Waterloo Spur Gauntlet Track

Gauntlet Track, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

The Toronto Streetcar System includes a very short section of gauntlet track on Queen Street East, at Coxwell Avenue. [10] A loop allowing southbound cars to return northbound on Coxwell Avenue briefly interlaces with the westbound track on Queen Street, due to turning radius limitations. A switch partially within the gauntlet section allows westbound streetcars from Queen Street to transition to the loop curve, and turn right onto Coxwell Avenue, but streetcars already within the loop cannot switch to the westbound Queen Street track.

Czech Republic[edit]

Tram gauntlet in Malá strana, Prague

On tram networks, gauntlet tracks are used to pass through a narrow passage through a building in Prague's historic Malá Strana and similarly on a narrow bridge in Ostrava. In addition, they are used in various places in Prague and Brno where interlacing is used to shift the switches away from high-traffic intersections, in order to improve traffic flow.

In the rail system, it is used to overlap metro and normal rail lines; these use the same gauge, but the metro's third rail would otherwise intrude upon the standard railway loading gauge.


The Torne River Railway Bridge between Sweden and Finland, with guard rails between dual gauge gauntlet track

At the border with Sweden where the Torne river separates the cities of Tornio, Finland and Haparanda, Sweden, a two-kilometre section of dual gauge track uses a gauntlet configuration because the 1,524 mm (5 ft) gauge used in Finland and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge used in Sweden are too close for a common rail to be shared. The link, which opened in 1919 with the completion of the Torne River Railway Bridge, is complemented by a marshalling yard at each end, an arrangement that allows trains from either country to stop in the other for freight to be transferred to trains of the local gauge.[11][12]

A short interlaced section in the Helsinki tram network was constructed along the pedestrianised Mikonkatu in 2008. There is also a section of gauntlet track on Merikasarminkatu, also in Helsinki.


Germany: gauntlet track in Mannheim

In Braunschweig, a short section of interlaced track exists on the network of the Straßenbahn Braunschweig between the Hagenmarkt and the Küchenstrasse (on the route linking Radeklint to the city centre) because a short part of the road is too narrow for parallel tracks to be fully segregated from the traffic lanes.

In Hanover, a section of interlaced track exist on the network of the Hanover Stadtbahn in the suburb of Grasdorf (on the route linking Rethen to the city centre) due to the road not being wide enough for fully segregated parallel tracks. The tracks separate to a standard two track configuration at the stop part way along the section to allow vehicles to pass each other.

In Mannheim, gauntlet track is used to shift the switch out of the road to prevent the switch from being driven over by cars and trucks. Mannheim also uses gauntlet track to run trams within less space.

In Potsdam, a short section of interlaced track takes trams through the historic Nauener Tor into the old city.

In Stuttgart, gauntlet track is used on some short sections where there is not enough available space for both tracks.


Tram 10 negotiates the gauntlet track on the temporary bridge at Hoge Sluis, Amsterdam, 3 March 2012
Netherlands: short section of gauntlet track at the line 7 stop in Czaar Peterstraat in Amsterdam

To overcome space constraints, Amsterdam's tram network uses gauntlet track to increase space for shoppers in the 12 m (39 ft)-wide Leidsestraat in the city centre. In this busy and otherwise pedestrianised shopping street, the tram stops are located on the bridges over the canals, where more lateral space is available, permitting passing loops that can just accommodate two trams in each direction. Intermediate sections are gauntlet track. As service is frequent on routes 2, 11 and 12 which use this line, this arrangement often leads to delays. However, on line 7 in Czaar Peterstraat, the situation is reversed, and a short section of gauntlet track occurs in a line that is otherwise double, to make room for the platforms at the Eerste Leeghwaterstraat tram stop. Oddly, in a second radial route, at Utrechtsestraat, the passing places on the bridges are served by preset points with single track between them, rather than by gauntlet track. The same arrangement has been adopted in the section of single track laid in Ferdinand Bolstraat in April 2017. Amsterdam has two other short permanent sections of gauntlet track: opposite a loading bay in Amstelstraat (route 14) and preceding the points entering the eastern terminal loop outside Amsterdam Centraal railway station. In addition, during the rebuilding of the bridge over the Amstel at Hoge Sluis, the temporary bridge that carried tramlines 7 and 10 was equipped with gauntlet track on the diagonal section at the eastern end, so as to leave enough room for the cycle path.

New Zealand[edit]

Picton Rail Ferry Ramp, New Zealand

The Interislander rail-ferry ramps at Wellington and Picton have triple gauntlet track. At the ferry end of the ramp the outer tracks curve to the left and right to align with the tracks on the ferry rail deck.


Lisbon tram gauntlet track stretches marked with "><" (as of 1995)

The Lisbon tram system interlaces to negotiate several particularly narrow street necks and arches and tight corners.


Moscow tram tracks before entering a tunnel under Kursk railway

The Moscow tramway network has only one stretch of gauntlet track remaining in place. The five-track railway line just south of Kursky Terminal is crossed through a narrow tunnel built at the beginning of the 20th century and unsuitable for a two-track tram line. Other similar stretches were removed or re-organised, since according to the standards, gauntlet tracks on tram lines are only permitted as a temporary measure.[13]

The tram network in Osinniki includes a narrow bridge with a gauntlet track across a railway line towards the Ossinikovskaya mine. However, since 2010 the stretch is out of use after the tram services in the area were cut.


The main track of Antequera–Granada high-speed rail line at Granada railway station, with Iberian and standard gauges.

The "Metrocentro T1" tram line of the Seville Metro that opened in 2007 features a 300 m section of interlaced track along the city's main pedestrian street. The section runs down Avenue de la Constitución, past the Seville Cathedral and World Heritage Site.


  • Dual gauge on the bridge between Haparanda and Tornio Finland
  • In Norrköping the tram system has a short section of gauntlet track on a narrow pedestrian street.

United Kingdom[edit]

Gauntlet track on Tramlink, Mitcham

In Britain, gauntlet track was often used where street tramways had to pass through narrow streets and even archways in ancient city walls.

  • Nottingham Express Transit: just north of The Forest, to avoid a set of points in the middle of a road junction.
  • Manchester Metrolink: between Deansgate-Castlefield and St. Peter's Square, in the northbound direction, also to avoid a set of points on a road crossing.
  • Tramlink in South London: at Mitcham, where a short obstruction prevents double track being used; and at Church Street, to avoid a set of points in the middle of a road junction.
  • The National Tramway Museum: short section under the narrow Bowes-Lyon Bridge, which causes logistical problems on major running days.
  • The Great Orme Tramway: section on the lower part.
  • The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: formerly used on a short section at Wirksworth to allow either the passenger platform or the stone dock to be used. Now removed due to it being no longer needed.
  • The East Coast Main Line at Selby in Yorkshire used them to reduce four tracks to two to cross the Swing Bridge over the River Ouse. They were removed after the main line was diverted around Selby in the 1980s and two of the lines were subsequently taken up.

United States[edit]

Roselle Park and Union stations, which are located on Conrail Shared Assets Operation's (CSAO) Lehigh Line in New Jersey, are equipped with gauntlet tracks. As New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line trains use these stations, as well as freight trains of CSAO use this track, the gauntlet track allows freight trains the extra clearance they may require, by moving the train further away from the platform edge (or, rather, the gauntlet track allows the passenger train to get closer to the platform). The gauntlet track is equipped with dispatcher controlled power switches.

Gauntlet track on Conrail Shared Assets Operation Lehigh Line at New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line Union, New Jersey station
Metroliner at Capital Beltway in 1974

This type of point gauntlet is also used on the South Shore Line (NICTD) railroad at stations in Hegewisch in Illinois and Hammond and East Chicago in Indiana. (SouthShore Freight runs freight trains on NICTD.) A frog gauntlet section on NICTD in Gary, Indiana, was removed in 1997 after a 1993 fatal near head-on accident where the tracks diverged.

The Westside Express Service (WES) regional rail line in the Portland, Oregon, suburbs has gauntlet track at its three intermediate stations, Hall-Nimbus, Tigard and Tualatin. These locations are along a stretch of track that WES trains shares with freight trains of the Portland & Western Railroad. Gauntlets at the stations allows freight cars to clear the high-level platforms.

The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad used gauntlet track to allow two sets of track to be placed in the center-line through the Oxford Tunnel in western New Jersey. This "Old Main Line" was abandoned in 1970.

Amtrak's B&P Tunnel, underneath Baltimore on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), was equipped with a point gauntlet on one of its two tracks. Installed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the mid-1950s to allow TOFC trains to fit through the tunnel, Amtrak removed it in the mid-1990s after most freight trains had been routed away from NEC.

Gauntlet track exists on track 3 of Saybrook Junction on Amtrak's NEC in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Track 3 is the long leg of the wye at Saybrook Junction, and is used by the Valley Railroad occasionally to turn around equipment. In addition, track 3 is also a siding used by Shore Line East to service Old Saybrook Station, and freight run by the Providence & Worcester Railroad to access spurs when servicing the nearby Tilcon plant or Fortune Plastics.

The San Francisco cable car system features three areas with gauntlet tracks[14] where the outer rail of the inner track is shared as the inner rail of the outer track for two sections of tracks: on Washington Street[15] between Mason Street and Powell Street, on Powell Street[16] (north of Washington Street) onto Jackson Street to the point of divergence of the Powell Street lines at Jackson Street and Mason Street, and on Hyde Street[17] between Jackson Street and Washington Street. On Washington Street, the gauntlet track begins at a manual switch mid-block where Powell Street cable cars travel the right side of the gauntlet track and turn right onto Powell Street towards Market Street. Cable cars making non-revenue runs (such as those entering or leaving the car barn) normally bear left onto the left side of the gauntlet track which then turns left onto Powell Street heading north. On Powell and Jackson Streets, the gauntlet track also begins at a manual switch located mid-block on the northbound side of Powell Street north of Washington Street. This is where the two Powell Street lines diverge on a downhill section of Powell Street, with the Powell-Hyde line switching to the left side and the Powell-Mason line proceeding straight onto the right side. From there, the cable cars run on gauntlet track which turns left onto Jackson Street, continuing uphill for one block until the Mason line turns right onto Mason Street. On Hyde Street, the gauntlet track is located on the southbound side where California Street cable cars coming from the barn use the right side (forward-facing) of the gauntlet track to access their revenue tracks on California Street to begin their revenue service.

Many Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit stations feature gauntlet tracks adjacent to platforms to allow the passage of wide loads – segments of the main line also service North Coast Railroad Authority freight movements.

Although a monorail cannot strictly speaking have gauntlet track, the nearest equivalent would be when two parallel monorail tracks are too close together to allow two trains to pass. This happens at the southern terminus of the Seattle Center Monorail at the Westlake Center in Downtown Seattle, Washington, where the station was rebuilt in 1988 with the dual tracks only about 4 feet (1.2 m) apart in order to allow for a narrower station, which led to a collision in 2005 that suspended monorail service for several months.[18]

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad opened its huge, double-track bridge over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York on January 1, 1889. At 6,768 feet long and 212 feet above the Hudson, it became its first rail crossing. In 1917-18, after the introduction of its heavy 2-10-2 steam locomotives, the New Haven replaced the prior double track with a gauntlet track for the entire bridge structure between Poughkeepsie and Highland, New York: 1.28 miles. This situation existed for 41 years, until the New Haven removed 2 of the 4 rails in 1959, leaving an off-center single track. The long portion of the New Haven's "Maybrook Freight Line" between Hopewell Junction and Maybrook Yard, New York, was permanently closed on May 8, 1974, after a wooden-tie fire high above Poughkeepsie damaged the underlying iron (not Bessemer steel, which comprises the overwater structure only) of the bridge's eastern viaduct. The New Haven's successor, Conrail, removed the remaining tracks in 1983-1984. On October 3, 2009, after the expenditure of approximately $42 million in government and privately-funded repair and refurbishment costs to create a concrete-decked pedestrian walkway, the "Walkway Over The Hudson State Historic Park" opened to widespread acclaim. Up to 750,000 annual visitors now (2019) walk across it annually, and it has revitalized the historic Poughkeepsie waterfront. In the 13 years since its opening, more than $10 million more in government funding has been spent on tourism facilities at the eastern and western landsides that directly abut the bridge. < ref> Wikipedia article on "Walkway Over The Hudson", with its own voluminous source references. </ref>

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garner, Bryan (27 August 2009). "gantlet; gauntlet". Garner's Modern American Usage (3 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-538275-4.
  2. ^ "gantlope, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (2 ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 1989. gata lane... + lopp course
  3. ^ D. Stirling (2002). Single Line Operation (1st ed.). Leeman Road, York: The Friends of the National Railway Museum. p. 126. ISBN 1-872826-13-X.
  4. ^ "Rail Geelong - Gallery - Gauntlet track at Franklin Street Junction". Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  5. ^ "VICSIG - Infrastructure - Line Data Upfield line". Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  6. ^ Desitter, Alan (2007-05-27). "German end of the Botzelaer Tunnel". Picasa Web Albums. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  7. ^ Railways throughout Europe, Border lines Belgium - Germany, retrieved 2008-03-14
  8. ^ The Brussels Direct Military Railway Aachen West - Montzen - Visé Haut - Tongeren, retrieved 2008-03-14
  9. ^ Quebec Gatineau Railway
  10. ^ Google Street View image
  11. ^ "The Lyngenfjord Highway – 1939". Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Tornio–Haaparanta". (in Finnish). Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  13. ^ "СНиП 2.05.09-90 "Трамвайные и троллейбусные линии"". State Committee for Construction. 1990. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "Cable Car Track Map". San Francisco Cable Car Museum. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  15. ^ Google (14 February 2016). "Gauntlet tracks on Washington Street in San Francisco" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  16. ^ Google (14 February 2016). "Gauntlet tracks on Powell and Jackson Streets in San Francisco" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  17. ^ Google (14 February 2016). "Gauntlet tracks on Hyde Street in San Francisco" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  18. ^ Lindblom, Mike (November 28, 2005). "Monorail collision result of hazard created during 1988 track redesign". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 26, 2014.

External links[edit]