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What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 01:46
by marioxcc
I found a video online of a train hauling intermodal containers in what appears to be (from a web search) a 1,067 mm-wide track. What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers? Can, for example, track with 600 mm gauge safely transport intermodal containers? Do narrow gauge trains derail often because of the instability compared with 1,435 mm gauge or broader?

Thanks.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 03:54
by YNM
I believe it's more from whether they're employed nationally, such that intermodal freighting becomes viable.

So far I guess the only slightly narrower one would be the metre gauge (1000 mm). Cape gauge (1067 mm) is the standard in Japan, and also in my home country. Metre gauge AFAIK is standard in Malaysia, and probably other countries but I'm not sure how much. I've seen containers on them, so I guess those are the smallest, unless there's some other country with extensive networks of gauge smaller than metre.

Technically what limits what dimension can you carry is the loading gauge, not track gauge. For instance, despite the same standard gauge used, trains in the US and perhaps in Europe (continent) can have double-stacked containers, yet in the UK it's a snug fit for even one stack.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:39
by McZapkie
I had seen 760mm Sibiu local CFR railway used for containers.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 13:27
by YNM
McZapkie wrote:I had seen 760mm Sibiu local CFR railway used for containers.
They've been converted to standard gauge since ?

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 17:24
by McZapkie
YNM wrote:
McZapkie wrote:I had seen 760mm Sibiu local CFR railway used for containers.
They've been converted to standard gauge since ?
No, they are abandoned now (maybe used for tourist trains). There were rather small containers, 20' or similar, unfortunately I have no photos, I lost my camera due to issues with Securitate.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 20:56
by marioxcc
Thanks for the answers.

Note: I know about loading gauge, but I assume that a narrow enough track gauge would also be a limiting factor because of the unstability and risk of derailment.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 03:35
by supermop
marioxcc wrote:Thanks for the answers.

Note: I know about loading gauge, but I assume that a narrow enough track gauge would also be a limiting factor because of the unstability and risk of derailment.
At some extreme, yes, but rail cars are actually more resilient to toppling over than you might expect, especially due to the flanges on the wheels. Trains are generally not likely to tip when taking a curve - the banking of the track is more to reduce lateral loading on the tracked (and increase passenger comfort) than to prevent a rail car tipping like an overloaded truck.

I've never seen standard containers on 600mm track, but I am sure it would be workable if sensibly built and operated.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 07:41
by YNM
McZapkie wrote:No, they are abandoned now (maybe used for tourist trains). There were rather small containers, 20' or similar, unfortunately I have no photos, I lost my camera due to issues with Securitate.
Interesting, that's an info not on the .net .

Do you remember where they were ? Maybe on a map ?
supermop wrote:
marioxcc wrote:Thanks for the answers.

Note: I know about loading gauge, but I assume that a narrow enough track gauge would also be a limiting factor because of the unstability and risk of derailment.
At some extreme, yes, but rail cars are actually more resilient to toppling over than you might expect, especially due to the flanges on the wheels. Trains are generally not likely to tip when taking a curve - the banking of the track is more to reduce lateral loading on the tracked (and increase passenger comfort) than to prevent a rail car tipping like an overloaded truck.

I've never seen standard containers on 600mm track, but I am sure it would be workable if sensibly built and operated.
Flanges don't have anything to do with toppling, they only have to do with following the rails itself. Some steam locomotive wheels are intentionally left "blind" (without flanges) to increase turning radius (efectively turning only a handful into "bogies").

But yeah, I can see that it could be quite problematic. 600 mm would be very narrow, and I guess the structure/loading gauge would usually not allow such.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 09:09
by Chris
Yep flanges should never be in contact with the rails - when they are they make that awful screeching sound you hear on tight radius bends

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 16:55
by acs121
In Japan the cape gauge allows for containers to be transported. But not 600mm rails. 600mm seems extremely narrow, it would be impossible to carry containers with that. For passenger / tourist lines though, the narrowest gauge is 380mm.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 18:25
by Ameecher
I'd have said a big issue is length rather than loading gauge although that will be a factor. The only reason for adopting really narrow gauges is for a tighter raid turn, hence why many mountain railways are narrow gauge. Tight turns don't give you much space for having a 40ft container on one of your freight wagons before it no longer hours round a bend.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 20:06
by piratescooby
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LG9AiIrP7yw
I love the narrow trains of the Americas , a load of videos can be found on the tube .As to the Question I think it depends on the cargo you want to transport .
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaton_Hall_Railway
Sir Arthur Percival Heywood,a great pioneer of the narrow gauge , his first experiments were with 9 inch gauge ,this proved unsuccessful and settled on 15 in / 381 mm gauge .
The Heywood radiating axle locomotives could pass very tight curves by a special axle arrangement.I think the tightest curve was 25 foot .

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 01:42
by Arch9enius
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f54OSRMetxA

Standard gauge trucks on roll on roll off thingys on indifferent 600mm? gauge track .

On this evidence, I think hauling (short, 40ft?) containers may be possible.

Just not up the Festiniog Railway.

Edit: the comments section says 750mm gauge.

Further edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_ ... ding_gauge

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 07:21
by piratescooby
Arch9enius wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f54OSRMetxA

Standard gauge trucks on roll on roll off thingys on indifferent 600mm? gauge track .

On this evidence, I think hauling (short, 40ft?) containers may be possible.

Just not up the Festiniog Railway.

Edit: the comments section says 750mm gauge.

Further edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_ ... ding_gauge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcNFJAhWDJY

What do you call the thingys ?

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 10:36
by YNM
I know those german/austrian/swiss logging cars can also be used for ISO containers...

Guess those are the smallest so far then.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 00:08
by Arch9enius
piratescooby wrote:
Arch9enius wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f54OSRMetxA

Standard gauge trucks on roll on roll off thingys on indifferent 600mm? gauge track .

On this evidence, I think hauling (short, 40ft?) containers may be possible.

Just not up the Festiniog Railway.

Edit: the comments section says 750mm gauge.

Further edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_ ... ding_gauge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcNFJAhWDJY

What do you call the thingys ?
Damn clever.

{edit}: Transporters.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 00:26
by Arch9enius
And after some further rooting around ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF4V94zQLSk

http://mrt-news.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/new-coach.html

http://www.farrail.net/pages/touren-eng ... a-2010.php

So I think 950mm is the smallest gauge that ISO containers have been seriously carried on, but 2ft / 600mm is indeed possible, with an empty container.

Re: What is the narrowest railway gauge that can or is actually used to haul containers?

Posted: 08 Mar 2020 23:10
by Arch9enius
Comng back to this conversation after a couple of years, I came to the conclusion (well, pulled out my arse) that about 6' across would be the maximum practicable load that could be run at any speed on 2'/600mm track. This being three times the track gauge. ISO containers being 8' across would have to be run slowly, on good quality permanent way, e.g. the Welsh Highland line. Also, there's no guarentee the shipper would have loaded the things evenly.

However, as if to shoot this down, here's some ISO boxes on flatcars running on what appears to be a sugar cane railway in Queensland. With the proviso that one appears to be on departmental service, and the other a storage box that doesn't leave the railway.

https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/25730
https://maroochyshiretramways.wordpress ... sel-fleet/

Following up, here's some snippets frm Wikipedia:

Festiniog Railway
Main article: Festiniog Railway

gauge = 597 mm (1 ft 11 1⁄2 in)
width (brakevan mirrors) = 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m).[51]
width (brakevan body) = 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m).
height = 5 feet 7.5 inches (1.715 m).
length = (carriage) 36 feet 0 inches (10.97 m).[52]

Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
Main article: Lynton and Barnstaple Railway

gauge = 597 mm (1 ft 11 1⁄2 in)
Lyn locomotive over headstocks
length = 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
width = 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
height = 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
Passenger
length = 39 ft 6 in (12.04 m)
width = 6 ft (1.83 m) wide,
width over steps = 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)
height = 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m)

several standard gauge 73 class locomotives of the NSWR, which are 9 feet 3 inches (2.82 m) wide, have been converted for use on 610 mm (2 ft) cane tramways, where there are no narrow bridges, tunnels or track centres to cause trouble.