# Inter track distances

I want to build a crossover [2mm scale] but I don't know and having
difficulty finding out the distance between tracks.
Short of getting in the car and going down to the Spa Valley Railway
[LBSCR/SR Tunbridge Wells] 1960 ish can anyone tell me the distance between
tracks ? OR where to find such information ?
{R}
Luckily I just sat in on a PTS meeting at Pickering, and have an employees handbook.
The standard track distance is 6ft 6in.
Be aware that this is a minimum.
It increases on curves and in other situations.
I think it used to be 6 foot on the straight. On the Liverpool Manchester line they started out with 4' 8.5" so out of gauge loads could run on the inner rails of both tracks during slack periods, I believe this idea was dropped after Mr Huskisson got mashed on the opening day.
Mike
And it's not enough for model railways. Go to the NEM or NMRA sites to get recommended track separation distances in mm or inches.
They call it "the six foot".
I did wonder quite a bit on the information that the track distance is 6ft 6in (more or less) and thought that it might be a narrow gauge line. But the information on a track distance of 4ft 8½in on the Liverpool and Manchester line toold me otherwise.
Is it really so that you measure track distance between the nearest rails of two tracks and not between track centres? How odd.
Does this mean that 6ft 6in track distance translates into 6ft 6in + 4ft 8½in + 2½in = 11ft 5in = 3480 mm (appr.) between track centres (on straight track)?
Well, you can do the same by using track centre distance and measure from for example the left hand rail on the left hand track to the right hand rail on the right hand track. On curves you would normally measure between the outside rails of the curve as gauge widening will change the position of the inside rails.
Thank you. I was uncertain of if track distance is measured over the inside or outside faces of the rail head.
"{R}" wrote
It varies depending upon whether the tracks carry passengers, when they were first built and whether trains pass in opposite directions on the roads in question.
John.
It's just one of the measurements.
The other is between centres. But unless you actually have a centre line, a rail-to-rail distance is easier to measure.
When there was a derailment they would say "dropped into the six foot" to say there it went.
Yes.
As is the six foot.
But the "four foot" is 4'8½" - it's just a shorthand.
Richard
Not really, in practical terms. You can make a gauge (stick with two stops on it) to measure the gauge very easily - measuring to the track centres would be more complex, and not realy necessary.
Yes
Richard
Any answer is going to be: a - a generalization. b - era dependant. c - situation dependant. d - probably wrong.
The individual founding railway companies set their own standards. They probably set different dimensions for mainlines, branches and yards. Since it is a major job to realign two parallel tracks given that the sub-bases would have to be rebuilt, the tracks tended to stay the same distance apart until such time as there was a real need to change them.
An illustration, I was watching a BBC history programme which questioned why the properties/shop fronts in a street in some town in Britain were all of precise equal width but to a dimension which wasn't a round figure in feet and inches. They traced back the subdivision to the time of Roman occupation and the dimension to a logical dimension in the Roman mesuring system. My point is, some dimensions remain long after the logic for their adoption is forgotten.
German track spacing is variously 3.75m on prussian branch lines, 4.0m on early main lines, 4.25m on 20th century main lines and 4.5m (minimum) on ICE lines. New Zealand Railways was 11 feet, increased to 12 feet around 1905. None of that answers your question but it might help explain discrepencies in other answers you might get. ;-)
Regards, Greg.P.
C to c? You must have very narrow trains!
... and the track "the four foot".
When you're laying full sized track it's a bit complicated to measure to the center of each track, given that the existing track doesn't have any markers or stud contacts or third rail! ;-) The track you're about to lay isn't actually there, which makes it even more difficult! Given illiterate track laying teams, the simplest method of accurate spacing is to give the foreman an accurate gauge, probably a big robust chunk of wood cut accurately to length. Given that this chunk of wood would be unwieldy, the shortest dimension that would give accurate spacing would be chosen. If the gauge had matched the center to center dimension, the track layers may well have mistaken it for a sleeper and laid it under the rails! ;-)
Regards, Greg.P.
Hi,
Here's what you are looking for:
Bear in mind the note about increasing to 10ft way for loops and sidings alongside running lines.
Assuming rail at 2.3/4" wide and 6ft way, the minimum centre-to-centre is 11ft-2in = 134"
(72" + 2 x 2.3/4" + 56.5" = 134")
(Note that on the GWR and BR(W) lines the old "00" rail was 3" wide, so historic centres are 1/2" wider at 11ft-2.1/2in, and the "six-foot" with later 2.3/4" rail is actually 6ft-0.1/2in -- i.e. 6ft-6in to running edges.)
All spacings need to be increased on curved track to allow for vehicle overhangs and superelevation.
regards,
Martin. ------------------------------
Interesting point.
It's rather amazing, then, that railway builders and maintainers in this country are able to measure distances and clearences from the track centre and has done so for 160 years.
Examples:
Surely the gauge (bit of wood) can be cut to measure between the inner rails and simply 'marked' for the centre to centre distance (which woulod be the distance between the lines plus one gauge width).
Mike

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