5 ft 6 in gauge railway

Track gauge
By transport mode
Tram · Rapid transit
Miniature · Scale model
By size (list)

  Fifteen inch 381 mm (15 in)

  600 mm,
Two foot
597 mm
600 mm
603 mm
610 mm
(1 ft 11 12 in)
(1 ft 11 58 in)
(1 ft 11 34 in)
(2 ft)
  750 mm,
Two foot six inch,
800 mm
750 mm
760 mm
762 mm
800 mm
(2 ft 5 12 in)
(2 ft 5 1516 in)
(2 ft 6 in)
(2 ft 7 12 in)
  Swedish three foot,
900 mm,
Three foot
891 mm
900 mm
914 mm
(2 ft11 332 in)
(2 ft 11 716)
(3 ft)
  Metre 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
  Three foot six inch,
Cape, CAP, Kyōki
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
  Four foot six inch 1,372 mm (4 ft 6 in)

  Standard 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

Five foot
1,520 mm
1,524 mm
(4 ft 11 2732 in)
(5 ft)
  Irish 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
  Iberian 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)
  Indian 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
  Six foot 1,829 mm (6 ft)
  Brunel 2,140 mm (7 ft 14 in)
Change of gauge
Break-of-gauge · Dual gauge ·
Conversion (list) · Bogie exchange · Variable gauge
By location
North America · South America · Europe · Australia

5 ft 6 in/1,676 mm gauge is a broad track gauge commonly used in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Chile, but is also used on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), in the San Francisco Bay Area, United States. It is historically known as "Broad gauge" on the Indian subcontinent or "Provincial gauge", "Portland gauge" or "Texas gauge" in North America. It is the widest gauge in regular use anywhere in the world, and it is the second most used gauge (based upon kilometers installed) at 29.3%. (The most used gauge is standard gauge at 54.8%.)


See 5 ft 6 in gauge in Scotland

This gauge was first used in Scotland for two short, isolated lines, the Dundee and Arbroath Railway (1836-1847) and the Arbroath and Forfar Railway (1838- ).



In India, the Governor-General James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 10th Earl of Dalhousie determined that a wider gauge than 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge was more suitable for larger firebox and stability in high winds and long steep gradients.

"The first agreement of the Government of India with East Indian Railway Company and Great Indian Peninsula Company in 1849 stipulated that railways in India would be built on a four feet, eight and half inches gauge. However, soon there were disagreements with Lord Dalhousie favoring a 6 ft (1,829 mm) gauge and Mr. Simms, the consulting engineer favoring five feet and six inches gauge. The debate was finally settled in favor of the five and half feet gauge, called the broad gauge in 1850s and the first train that ran from Bombay to Thane ran on broad gauge."

In the late 20th century, India adopted Project Unigauge. Gauge conversion towards Indian gauge is underway, replacing several narrow gauges and metre gauges.[1]

To achieve long term economic feasibility of railway projects by transporting more cargo and passengers, all of India's new railway lines will be built with Broad-gauge, with the Dedicated Freight Corridor also built using Broad-gauge.


Main article: Pakistan Railways

Pakistan uses primarily broad gauge, but also has a mix of metre gauge and other narrow gauges.


Main article: Bangladesh Railway

The Bangladesh Railways uses a mix of broad gauge and metre gauge. The broad gauge network is primarily located to the west of the Jamuna River, while the metre gauge network is primarily located to its east. The Jamuna Bridge is a mixed use bridge that contains a dual gauge connection across the river linking both networks.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka previously had a mix of broad gauge and other narrow gauges. However, all services currently operate on broad gauge as the other lines have either been closed or converted.

North America


Main article: Track gauge in Canada

In the 1850s it was first used in Canada, and was then used in other British colonies. It was known as the "Provincial gauge" in Canada. The earliest railways in Canada, including the 1836 Champlain and St. Lawrence, 1839 Albion Colliery tramway and 1847 Montreal and Lachine Railway were all built to standard gauge.[2]

The Grand Trunk Railway which operated in several Canadian provinces (Quebec and Ontario) and American states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) used it, but changed to standard gauge by 1873. The Grand Trunk Railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; but corporate headquarters were in London, England. The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad which operated in Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine also used it and was converted in 1873.

There is a longstanding rumour that the Provincial gauge was selected specifically to create a break-of-gauge with US railways, the War of 1812 still being a fresh memory. However, there is little supporting evidence for this, and this story appears to be traced to a single claim from the late 1800s.[2]

United States

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system is the only operating railroad in the United State to use Indian gauge, with 104 miles (167 km) of mainlines. The original engineers for the system had background in aerospace (rather than railroads) and intended to make a state-of-the-art system for other municipalities to emulate. The use of Indian gauge rails was one of many unconventional design elements included in its design. In addition to its unusual gauge, it also uses flat-edge rail, rather than typical rail that angles slightly inward. This has complicated maintenance of the system, as it requires custom wheelsets, brake systems, and track maintenance vehicles.[3]

The New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad (NOO&GW) used Indian gauge until 1872, and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad used Indian gauge ("Texas gauge") until 1876. The Grand Trunk Railway predecessor St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad which operated in Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine also used Indian gauge ("Canadian gauge" or "Portland gauge") and was converted in 1873. Several Maine railroads connected to the Grand Trunk Railway shared its "Portland Gauge". The Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad and the Buckfield Branch Railroad were later consolidated as the Maine Central Railroad which converted to standard gauge in 1871. The only electric streetcar system in the U.S. to use this gauge was that of Fairfield, Maine.

John A. Poor's chief engineer Alvin C. Morton compiled the following advantages of "Portland Gauge" for Maine railways in 1847:[4]

South America



Similar gauges

Iberian gauge (1,668 mm or 5 ft 5 2132 in) is closely similar, with only 8 mm (516 in) difference, and allow compatibility with the rolling stock. For example, in recent years Chile and Argentina had bought second hand Spanish/Portuguese Iberian-gauge rolling stock.


Country/territory Railway
Argentina San Martín Railway
Sarmiento Railway
Mitre Railway (except Tren de la Costa in standard gauge)
Roca Railway (except La Trochita, Central Chubut Railway and Ramal Ferro Industrial de Río Turbio in 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) gauge)
Bangladesh Bangladesh Railway
Brazil History of rail transport in Brazil
Canada Grand Trunk Railway, St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad and the
Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad until 1873, Specific names, Provincial gauge
Grand Trunk Railway of Canada[5]
Intercolonial Railway of Canada until 1875. See also Canada.
Chile Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado
India Major routes of Indian Railways, Delhi Metro (some lines), Kolkata Metro; The other metro lines are 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge.
Nepal Nepal Railways operate a stretch of Indian Gauge line, plus a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) line.
Pakistan Only broad gauge railway lines are now operational in the Pakistan Railways network. Few metre gauge & narrow gauge railway lines have been converted into Broad gauge and remaining have been abandoned or dismantled.
Paraguay The Paraguayan railway from Asunción to Encarnación was originally laid in this gauge, in the hope that the connecting line from Posadas to Buenos Aires would be built to the same gauge; alas, this line was laid to standard gauge, and when the FCPCAL reached Encarnación in 1912 the whole line had to be re-gauged to standard gauge to allow through-working.
Sri Lanka All of the rail tracks in Sri Lanka are now Indian gauge. There were two narrow gauge tracks which were completely removed.
United Kingdom Two early (1830s) linked railways around Arbroath (see Scotch gauge).
United States Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), San Francisco Bay Area
Maine Central Railroad until 1871

See also


  1. Vikas, Singh (7 May 2009). "Rail trail". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  2. 1 2 Omer Lavallee, "The Rise and Fall of the Provincial Gauge", Canadian Rail, February 1963, pp. 22-37
  3. Gafni, Matthias (March 25, 2016). "Has BART's cutting-edge 1972 technology design come back to haunt it?". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  4. Holt, Jeff (1985). The Grand Trunk in New England. Railfare. p. 78. ISBN 0-919130-43-7.
  5. "Canada's Digital Collections archived at Library and Archives Canada". Government of Canada. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/13/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.