Types of Gauges in Railway | Top 3 Railroad gauge | Standard Railroad Gauge

What is Rail Gauge?

Rail Gauge is defined as the lowest distance between the inner faces of two rails. Indian Railways follows this standard method and the gauge is measured as the clear minimum space between the running faces of the two rails as shown in Fig.

Different Types of Rail Gauges

There are mainly 4 types of railway gauges used in India.

  • Broad gauge
  • Meter Gauge
  • Narrow gauge and
  • Standard gauge (for Delhi Metro)


Broad gauge is also called wide gauge or expansive line. The inner space between the two tracks in these railway gauges is 1.676 m (5 ft 6 in). It would not be wrong to state that any gauge, wider than standard gauge or 1,435 mm (4 ft 8½ inches), is called broad gauge. The first railway line built in India was a broad gauge line from Bore Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) to Thane in 1853 for 34 km. Broad gauge railway is also operated on ports for cranes etc. This gives more stability and they are even better than thinner gauges.


The inner distance between the two rail tracks is one Metre (3 foot 3/8 in). The metre gauge lines were created to decrease the price. All Metre Gauge lines except the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that could be a heritage run on a metre gauge in Bharat are altered into a railroad below project Unigauge.

The railways have been most popular to preserve five of its metre-gauge lines across the country and handle them as heritage lines, in a very shift from its plans to convert all of them into broad-gauge.

The lines to be preserved embody sections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and province. These lines square measure connected to traveller destinations and were earlier known for gauge transformation, however currently are unbroken as heritage lines. Around 30-km-long Mhow-Kalakund railway line in Madhya Pradesh. “The Patalpani waterfalls have the likelihood to draw in tourists. Another line that has been recognised by the ministry as having the potential to be designed as a business line is the 171-km Nanpara-Mailani section in the province. It runs via the Dudhwa park. Almost a 50-km metre-gauge line that passes via the Gir Forest in Gujarat also will be maintained. along with a few 70- klick Marwar-Udaipur metre-gauge railway sections lowering within the diverse sanctuary of Todgarh Raoli.


The smallest rail in the Railway traffic gauge is called a Narrow gauge or a small line. The narrow-gauge railway is the railway track, in which the inner distance between two rail tracks is 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) and 2 ft (610 mm). In 2015, there was a 1,500 km narrow gauge rail route, which is assumed to be about 2% of the total Indian rail network. As the country is growing, small line services are expected to be completed by 2018. Now the small lines are being converted into Broad gauge lines. Trains with small bogies now will no longer be available to see much. The Darjeeling Mountain Railway was announced by UNESCO World Heritage on 24 July 2008. Kalka Shimla Railway is also very famous.

Types of GaugesLength in KM
Broad Gauges61680
Metre Gauges3480
Narrow Gauges2210
Total Length67370
As per Indian Railway Data 2016-2017

What factors affect the choices of gauges?

The selection of Rail gauge is very opinionated, as each country has a restricted rail gauge and all new railway lines are constructed to adhere to the standard gauge and follow all railway standards.

However, the following factors theoretically impact the selection of the gauge.

1. There is a proportional addition in the cost of purchase of land, embankment or cutting earthwork, sleepers, rails, Stone ballast, and other track types of equipment when constructing a wider gauge.

2. The expenditure on building bridges, culverts, underpasses and tunnels increases only marginally due to a wider gauge.

3. The expense of constructing station buildings, platform level crossings, signals, staff quarters etc. associated with the railway network is more or less exact for all gauges.

4. The cost of rolling stock is separate from the gauge of the track for having the same volume of traffic.

5. As a wider gauge can bring larger waggons and coaches, it can theoretically take better traffic.

6.  A wider gauge has a more significant potential at higher speeds because speed is a function of the diameter of the wheel, which in turn is limited by the width of the gauge.

7. The type of traction and signalling tools required is independent of the standard rail gauge.

8. It is probable to select steeper gradients and sharper route curves for a narrow rail gauge as compared to a wider gauge.

9. Thus a single rail gauge should be adopted irrespective of the nominal benefits of a broad rail gauge and the few effective limitations of a narrower gauge.

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