Use dmy dates|date=July 2012
Sidebar track gauge:
A '''narrow gauge railway''' (or '''narrow gauge railroad''') is a railway+ with a track gauge+ narrower than the and .
Since narrow gauge railways are usually built with smaller radius curves, smaller structure gauge+s, lighter rails, etc., they can be substantially less costly to build, equip, and operate than standard gauge or broad gauge railways, particularly in mountainous or difficult terrain. The lower costs of narrow gauge railways mean they are often built to serve industries and communities where the traffic potential would not justify the cost of building a standard or broad gauge line.
Narrow gauge railways also have specialized use in mines+ and other environments where a very small structure gauge makes a very small loading gauge+ necessary. Narrow gauge railways also have more general applications. Nonindustrial narrow gauge mountain railways are or were common in the Rocky Mountains+ of the United States and the Pacific Cordillera+ of Canada, in Mexico, Switzerland, the former Yugoslavia+, Greece, India, and Costa Rica+. In some countries, narrow gauge is the standard, like the gauge in Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Africa, and Tasmania+, and the in Malaysia+ and Thailand+.
Many narrow gauge street tramways+ are used, particularly in Europe, where tramways are common.
The earliest recorded railway is shown in the ''De re metallica+'' of 1556, which shows a mine in Bohemia with a railway of about gauge. During the 16th century, railways were mainly restricted to hand-pushed narrow gauge lines in mines throughout Europe. During the 17th century, mine railway+s were extended to provide transportation above ground. These lines were industrial+, connecting mines with nearby transportation points, usually canals or other waterways. These railways were usually built to the same narrow gauge as the mine railways from which they developed.
The world's first steam locomotive on rails, built in 1802 by Richard Trevithick+ for the Coalbrookdale Company, ran on a plateway+. During the 1820s and 1830s, a number of industrial narrow gauge railways in the United Kingdom used steam locomotives. In 1842, the first narrow gauge steam locomotive outside the UK was built for the
Historically, many narrow gauge railways were built as part of specific industrial enterprises and were primarily industrial railway+s rather than general carriers. Some common uses for these industrial narrow gauge railways were mining+, logging+, construction+, tunnel+ling, quarry+ing, and the conveying of agricultural products+. Extensive narrow gauge networks were constructed in many parts of the world for these purposes. For example, mountain logging operations in the 19th century often used narrow gauge railways to transport logs from mill sites to market. Significant sugarcane+ railways still operate in Cuba+, Fiji+, Java+, the Philippines+, and Queensland. Narrow gauge railway equipment remains in common use for the construction of tunnels.
Extensive narrow gauge railway systems+ served the front-line trenches of both sides in World War I+. They were a short-lived military application, and after the end of the war, the surplus equipment from these created a small boom in narrow gauge railway building in Europe.
Narrow gauge railways usually cost less to build because they are usually lighter in construction, using smaller cars+ and locomotive+s (smaller loading gauge), as well as smaller bridge+s, smaller tunnel+s (smaller structure gauge) and tighter curves. Narrow gauge is thus often used in mountainous terrain, where the savings in civil engineering+ work can be substantial. It is also used in sparsely populated areas where the potential demand is too low for broader gauge railways to be economically viable. This is the case in some of Australia and most of Southern Africa, where extremely poor soils have led to population densities too low for standard gauge to be viable.
For temporary railways that will be removed after short-term use, such as for construction, the logging industry, the mining industry, or large-scale construction projects, especially in confined spaces, such as the Channel Tunnel+, a narrow gauge railway is substantially cheaper and easier to install and remove. The use of such railways has almost vanished due to the capabilities of modern truck+s.
In many countries, narrow gauge railways were built as "feeder" or "branch" lines to feed traffic to more important standard gauge lines, due to their lower construction costs. The choice was often not between a narrow gauge railway and a standard gauge one, but between a narrow gauge railway and none at all.
Narrow gauge railways cannot interchange rolling stock+ such as freight and passenger cars freely with the standard gauge or broad gauge railways with which they link, and the transfers of passengers and freight require time-consuming manual labour or substantial capital expenditure. Some bulk commodities, such as coal+, ore+, and gravel+, can be mechanically transshipped, but this still incurs time penalties and the equipment required for the transfer is often complex to maintain.
Also in times of peak demand, it is very difficult to move rolling stock to where it is needed when a break of gauge+ exists, so enough rolling stock must be available to meet a narrow gauge railways' own peak demand, which might be much more than needed by equivalent standard gauge railways, and the surplus equipment generated no cash flow during periods of low demand.
Another problem for narrow gauge railways was that they lacked the physical space to grow: their cheap construction meant they were engineered only for their initial traffic demands. While a standard or broad gauge railway could more easily be upgraded to handle heavier, faster traffic, many narrow gauge railways were impractical to improve. Speeds and loads hauled could not increase, so traffic density was significantly limited. In the case of Queensland+, Australia+, the Queensland Rail+ passenger network has nearly reached its capacity due to the narrow gauge and an ever increasing population, as such, new lines are to be built, thus negating the original cost savings.
The heavy duty gauge, it has over-100-pound rail+ () and a loading gauge+ almost as large as US nonexcess-height lines. It has multiple locomotives and 200+ car trains. In South Africa and New Zealand, the loading gauge is similar to the restricted British loading gauge, and in New Zealand some British Rail Mark 2+ carriages have been rebuilt with new bogies for use by Tranz Scenic+ (Wellington-Palmerston North service), Tranz Metro+ (Wellington-Masterton service), and Veolia+ (Auckland suburban services).
The reduced stability of narrow gauge means its trains cannot run at the same high speeds as on broader gauges, unless the tracks are aligned with greater precision . In Japan and Queensland, recent permanent way improvements have allowed trains on and faster. Queensland Rail+'s tilt train+ is currently the fastest train in Australia and the fastest gauge railcar was built for the Otavi Mining and Railway Company+ with a design speed of 137 km/h.
Compare these speeds with standard gauge or broad gauge trains which can run at up to . The contrast is most evident in Japan, home of the Shinkansen+, a network of standard gauge lines built solely for high-speed rail+ in a country where narrow gauge is the predominant standard.
Curve radius is also important for high speeds: narrow gauge railways tend to have sharper curves, which limits the speed at which a vehicle can safely proceed along the track.
Many engineers considered the cost of a railway varies with some power of the gauge, so the narrower gauge the cheaper it might be. This applied also to different narrow gauges, such as a proposed line in Papua+ using either .
In general, a narrow gauge railway has a track gauge less than standard gauge. However, due to historical and local circumstances, the definition of a narrow gauge railway can be different.
Many narrow gauges are in use or formerly used between gauge. They fall into several broad categories:
'''Scotch gauge''' was the name given to a lines were constructed. Both gauges were eventually converted to standard gauge.
Similar gauges are:
* for the Hejaz railway+, constructed in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Only a few lines survive
* only in Algeria+
'''Metre gauge''' is the system of narrow gauge railways and tramways with a track gauge of .
As a result of Italian+ law, track gauges in Italy were defined from the centres of each rail, rather than the inside edges of the rails. This gauge was measured between the edges of the rails and is known as Italian metre gauge+
These lightweight lines can be built at a substantial cost saving over medium or standard gauge railways, but are generally restricted in their carrying capacity. The majority of these lines were built in mountainous areas, the majority for carrying mineral traffic from mines to ports or standard gauge railways.
Gauges below gauge estate railway+s, while in France Decauville+ produced a range of industrial railways running on tracks, most commonly in restricted environments such as underground mine+ railways, parks and farms. Several gauge railways were built in Britain to serve ammunition depots and other military facilities, particularly during World War I+.
* P.J.G. Ransom+. ''Narrow Gauge Steam – Its origins and worldwide development'', Oxford Publishing Co., 1996, ISBN 0-86093-533-7
* P. Whitehouse, J. Snell. ''Narrow Gauge Railways of the British Isles'', David and Charles+, 1994, ISBN C-7153-0196-9
* <>''Railroads of Colorado: Your Guide to Colorado's Historic Trains and Railway Sites''>, Claude Wiatrowski, Voyageur Press, 2002, hardcover, 160 pages, ISBN 0-89658-591-3
* Keith Chester. "East European Narrow Gauge" 1995
* "Narrow Gauge Through the Bush – Ontario's Toronto Grey and Bruce and Toronto and Nipissing Railways"; Rod Clarke; pub. Beaumont and Clarke, with the Credit Valley Railway Company, Streetsville, Ontario, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9784406-0-2
* "The Narrow Gauge For Us – The Story of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway"; Charles Cooper; pub. The Boston Mills Press; Erin, Ontario, 1982.
* "Narrow Gauge Railways of Canada"; Omer Lavallee; pub. Railfair, Montreal, 1972.
* "Narrow Gauge Railways of Canada"; Omer Lavallee, expanded and revised by Ronald S Ritchie; pub. Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Markham, Ontario, 2005.
* "The Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway 1863–1884; Thomas F McIlwraith; pub. Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto, 1963.
* "Steam Trains to the Bruce"; Ralph Beaumont; pub. The Boston Mills Press; Cheltenham, Ontario, 1977
* "Running Late on the Bruce"; Ralph Beaumont and James Filby; pub The Boston Mills Press, Cheltenham, Ontario, 1980
*; Michael J. Brown