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Author Topic: A brief outline of the coming and going of broad gauge  (Read 516 times)
grahame
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« on: January 10, 2021, 11:58:21 pm »

Here we go - something to test and seed this new area.

The story (briefly) of the broad gauge, the act that laid out broad and standard gauge areas, and the conversion to standard gauge, with quotes from various sources.  Much for members to fill in between should they wish, and I suspect there is artistic license employed in some of the writings.

To this day, many bridges are wide enough to take the broad gauge, thought I understand that the trains themselves did not really take advantage of the extra size they could have been.

https://www.gwr.com/about-us/media-centre/blogs/2019/april/history-of-the-railways

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In 1832 it became clear that Bristol simply had to be connected to London. A group of businessmen got together and turned to one of Britain?s greatest engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The go-ahead was given in 1835 and the story of the Great Western Railway began.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauge_War

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The Great Western Railway adopted the broad gauge of 7 ft (2,134 mm) at the outset, while competing railway companies adopted the gauge of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in), which later became standard gauge. As the railway companies sought to expand commercially and geographically, they wished to dominate areas of the country, hoping to exclude their competitors. The networks polarised into groups of broad gauge companies and of narrow gauge companies. The term narrow gauge at the time referred to the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) as well as any smaller size, all narrow relative to the broad gauge (whereas today it refers only to gauges strictly smaller than 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)).

A Royal Commission was set up to study the issue and report its recommendations. The report informed the Regulating the Gauge of Railways Act 1846, which mandated standard gauge for all new railway construction except in the southwest of England and certain lines in Wales.[2] However, building new broad gauge lines was still legal if an Act of Parliament permitted an exception for a new line.

https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/HMG_Act_Reg1846.pdf

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http://thequirkypast.com/wp/brunel-broad-gauge/

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On Friday 20th May 1892 over 3,500 workers took up positions alongside the main railway line running from Exeter to Falmouth. They were due to spend the weekend moving one of the rails 2 feet 3 ? inches closer to the other rail. This changed the track from ?Broad Gauge? to ?Standard Gauge?.

The final broad gauge express train, known as the ?Cornishman? left Paddington Station at 10.15 on Friday morning. Once it had set off on its return journey the line was closed and the conversion work began. On Monday the first standard gauge ?Cornishman? traveled to Penzance. 171 miles of track ? main line, branch lines and sidings ? had been converted in a weekend. Network Rail please take note!
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broadgage
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2021, 04:12:15 am »

Related to this, does anyone know a slightly larger gauge was selected in Ireland ?
The benifits of a sifnificantly wider gauge are well known (greater stability at speed, more capacity for freight and passengers, larger and more powerful engines easier to build)
The main drawback being greater cost for land purchase.

However the slightly larger Irish gauge  would seem to add to costs for non standard rolling stock, without producing significant  advantages.

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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2021, 07:54:32 am »

Related to this, does anyone know a slightly larger gauge was selected in Ireland ?

Was it simply because English and Irish systems developed separately and each chose their own?  5'3" is also used in Iberia and in Russia, and 5'6" on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in the San Francisco area. Cliff Lifts, which never (?) connect into neighbouring railways tend to have a variety of gauges too.

The BART was said to be different gauge to protect the company making the rolling stock from competition - not sure if that's just an urban myth.
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REVUpminster
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2021, 09:14:25 am »

In 1863 the first trains on the underground were broad gauge between Paddington and Farringdon and for a short time on the extension between Paddington and Hammersmith.

Fowler's Ghost at Edgware Road. by Robert, on Flickr
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2021, 10:40:18 am »

There's also a myth that Stalin altered the Russian gauge slightly to make it incompatible with other systems due to his paranoia that the railways could be used for invasion. This is a myth that probably arose from two facts: there was a technical redefinition of the Russian broad gauge (not actually an alteration ? and I think it happened after Stalin's death anyway), and Stalin was paranoid!
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stuving
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2021, 10:51:41 am »

In 1863 the first trains on the underground were broad gauge between Paddington and Farringdon and for a short time on the extension between Paddington and Hammersmith.

The railway must have been built from the start as mixed gauge:

The BBC's caption is "This print shows commuters waving their hats in the air during a trial journey on the London Metropolitan Underground railway", though the word "commuters" is obviously nonsense.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2021, 12:17:17 pm by stuving » Logged
4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2021, 11:58:17 am »

The urban myth that I know concerning the gauge of the Irish railways explains the increase in gauge as being due to the early, and unconnected, railways all using different gauges. These ranged from standard gauge to a six foot gauge; the 1846 Act fixed the gauge at 5ft 3in to prevent further confusion.

Incidentally, I discovered when I lived in Ulm in Germany all those years ago that the early state railways in Baden were built to the Irish gauge. At this distance in time I can no longer remember when they were converted to standard gauge.
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broadgage
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2021, 02:29:46 pm »

In the 1960s we had several family holidays in self catering holiday homes that consisted primarily of old railway carriages.
These seemed very spacious if compared to then used  carriages and I suspect that they MIGHT have been old broad gauge vehicles.
Already old fashioned and a bit dilapidated in the 1960s. No electricity.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
PrestburyRoad
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2021, 12:19:01 pm »

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To this day, many bridges are wide enough to take the broad gauge ...

Also to this day, the distance between platforms at some stations is enough to take the broad gauge.  I have a vague recollection that Maidenhead might be an example.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2021, 01:39:52 pm »

Yetminster and Bruton still show the old broad gauge distance between platforms
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2021, 10:10:32 am »

And certainly the Main Line platforms from Tilehurst through Cholsey where the Relief Line platforms were added to the east of the Mains in the 1890s, post broad gauge.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2021, 01:40:16 pm »

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And certainly the Main Line platforms from Tilehurst through Cholsey where the Relief Line platforms were added to the east of the Mains in the 1890s, post broad gauge.

But presumably in the case of Pangbourne not wide enough to enable them to slew the lines for HSTs in the 1970s so resulting in the loss of the main line down platform?
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