||This article is incomplete. (October 2011)|
The rails used in rail transport are produced in sections of fixed length. Rail lengths are made as long as possible, as the joints between rails are a source of weakness. Throughout the history of rail production, lengths have increased as manufacturing processes have improved.
- (1830) 15 feet (4.57 m) Liverpool and Manchester Railway
- fish-belly rails at 35 lb/yd (17.4 kg/m), laid mostly on stone blocks.
- (1950) 60 feet (18.29 m) British Rail
Welding of rails into longer lengths was first introduced around 1893, making train rides quieter and safer.
- (1895) Hans Goldschmidt developed Thermit welding
- (1935) Charles Cadwell, non-ferrous Thermit welding
- (1950) 240 feet (73.15 m) welded - (4 x 60 feet or 18.29 metres) 
Modern production techniques allowed the production of longer unwelded segments.
Newer longer rails tend to be made as simple multiples of older shorter rails, so that old rails can be replaced without cutting. Some cutting would be needed as slightly longer rails are needed on the outside of sharp curves compared to the rails on the inside.
Rails can be supplied pre-drilled with boltholes for fishplates or without where they will be welded into place.
There are usually 2 boltholes or 3 boltholes.
- "Surveys Of New Rail Link.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 17 June 1953. p. 5. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- "Big Weighing Machines.". Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 4 August 1900. p. 19. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- McGonigal, Robert (1 May 2014). "Rail". ABC's of Railroading (Trains). Retrieved 10 September 2014.
- "Thermit®". Evonik Industries. Evonik Industries AG.
- "Opening Of S.-E. Broad Gauge line.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 2 February 1950. p. 1. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "Ultra-long rails". voestalpine. voestalpine AG. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
- "Rails". Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
- "Tata Steel opens French plant to heat treat 108-meter train rail". International Organization on Shape Memory and Superelastic Technologies (SMST). ASM International. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
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