How Long Are Railroad Ties (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 8 feet and 6 inches

The rail tie or railroad tie is mainly used for giving support to the rails. These are mainly made up of wood and rectangular in shape. The length of railroad ties is no longer than 8 feet and 6 inches. The ties help in transferring the load of rail on other things such as subgrade and track ballast.

This would help in balancing the rail and making it go the correct path. The speed of the rails is quite fast. Therefore, it’s important for the railroad ties to prevent an imbalance of the rails.  Nowadays, the railroad ties are prepared of prestressed concrete.

Mainly the use of prestressed concrete is found in Asia and Europe. The number of crossties for each mile would be 3250. The uniformity of placing the railroad ties is vital for making the path of rails.

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How Long Are Railroad Ties?

Railroad TiesLength
Minimum length8 feet and 6 inches
Maximum length8 feet and 6 inches

In United States, the railroad spike is used for fastening the rails with the railroad ties. There are many types of railroad ties. All these railroad ties would be different in strength and lasting period. These are:

Stone Block

The stone blocks are not suitable for soft grounds. The blocks are used for fixing the chairs holding the rails. Stone railroad ties are great for the hard ground which can support these strong stone blocks.

Wooden            

Wooden railroad ties are prepared using an axe. These ties are used by many railways as they are convenient to support the railways. The ties are prepared using both hardwood and softwood.  Many rails used softwood, but these can ask for maintenance very often.

Softwoods will not work for a long time period but are extremely cheaper as compared to hardwood. The use of preservatives such as creosote is used for the wooden railroad ties.

Sometimes, the non-toxic preservatives are used for the support and treatment of wooden blocks. There are many wooden blocks that require treatment in regular intervals.

Some wooden blocks can go without treatment for a long time. The dual treatment process happens in the United States on the wooden block to prevent it from getting damaged or wearing off.

The lateral motion of the tie plate would cause the problem of chair shuffle. There are many other problems such as insect infestation, splitting, or rot. This is the reason why it is needed to treat the wooden road-rail ties whenever required.

Concrete

Concrete ties can be made with very less investment. Concrete is quite cheaper than timber and would be available easily. Concrete ties are good for maintenance as they can sustain heavyweights and the fast speed of the rails.

The concrete ties are strong and good at balancing the rails.

Why Are Railroad Ties This Long?

The length of the railroad ties would be different depending on the railway station. Therefore, it’s difficult to say the exact length of the railroad ties. The railroad ties of the United States won’t be the same as those of India. The standard length of ties should be around 102 inches.

The type of railroad ties would make an impact on the length of railroad ties. The length of Y-Shaped ties and twin ties would be slightly different. The type of rail and the railway area would impact what type of railroad ties are required.

The railroad ties are manufactured by different manufacturers. This can be a reason for the railroad having a different length. Some railway tracks may increase the length of the railroad to spread the weight of heavy rails.

In the areas where the ground is not hard and can disturb the ways of rails, use the longer railroad ties.

Conclusion

The railroad ties can have slightly different lengths, but not in all cases. The railroad ties are extremely heavy around 200 to 300 pounds. Therefore, these ties are highly capable of supporting the rails.

Maintaining the quality of railroads is essential to prevent accidents. Railroads will have different lengths if they are manufactured by different companies.

References

  1. https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/aer.20101199
  2. https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/131/2/799/2606976
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