Many years ago rails were laid in sections of 45 to 60 feet.
This was mainly because of the methods of laying them. Gangs of men would lift and manouevre them into postion on the sleepers.
This is what caused the train to make that familiar sound as they went along.
You know "Diddley dee diddley dee".
This was the wheels going across the gaps (about half an inch) between each section. These were left so the the rails could expand in the heat and not buckle.
Nowadays, these gaps do not exist on many railways.
Rails are still made in managable lengths (60 feet or similar) but are laid by a track laying machine. This may contain several hundred lengths and as each section leaves the machine it is welded to the next piece.
This can make them several miles long before there is the familar half inch gap to the next section. To prevent buckling, they are pre-stressed and laid under tension.
If you travel by train you will know when you are on a continuous section of rail because there is no "diddley-dee" sound.
You do still get sound when passing over the gaps in points etc but there is no rhythm to it.
Aug 30 03, 6:50 PM
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