Brief Guide to High-Speed Railways

Brief Guide to High-Speed Railways

High-Speed Railways (HSR) are a hot topic in the Rail industry since the safer High-Speed trains have proved the case. As many countries compete to build High-Speed Railways, developed countries are forced to upgrade the existing tracks to meet the need for speed. This article just analyses the conventional railways with HSR. Today, HSR’s speed, punctuality, and, above all, safety has not only achieved celebrated status among travellers throughout the world but have fundamentally transformed passenger transport in several countries.

High-speed rail can mean many things, depending on the context. For a traveller, HSR typically delivers comfort, speed, punctuality, safety and reliability just to begin—especially when journeying between central city business districts at a time of increasing airline delays.

Since its introduction in Japan in the 1960s, High-Speed Rail has now become a worldwide phenomenon and investments are being developed to connect many of the world’s largest and growing cities. However, these nations’ decision-makers face a complex array of choices in terms of technologies and operating systems and wrestle with adapting elements of established technologies to their local needs. Today, HSR remains a powerful symbol of a nation’s commitment to infrastructure.

What is HSR?

High-speed rail (HSR) is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. EC Directive 96/58 define high-speed rail as systems of rolling stock and infrastructure which regularly operate at or above 250 km/h on new tracks, or 200 km/h on existing tracks.

Current Speeds of HSR

It has been more than 50 years since the first high-speed rail (HSR) train captured the global imagination as it zipped past Mount Fuji 10 days before the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

In Japan, Shinkansen lines run at speeds in excess of 260 km/h (160 mph) and are built using standard gauge tracks with no at-grade crossings. In China, high-speed conventional rail lines operate at top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph). The world record for conventional high-speed rail is held by the V150, a specially configured version of Alstom’s TGV which clocked 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on a test run.

Viability of HSR over Conventional Railways

High-Speed Rail operations can’t be carried out like conventional rail operations on classic lines. This is due to the high speed of the trains. Therefore, always a large amount of time is needed for a stop. Also, the distances between the stops must increase in order to achieve sufficient efficiency. The efficiency of a railway system means the quotient of commercial speed divided by the maximum speed of the Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) generating the commercial speed.

HSR can play an important role in a nation’s transportation network, depending on a range of demographic, geographic, social and economic factors. Determining when it is the right solution is as much an art as a science, requiring a view that balances local preferences with big-picture economic and engineering practicalities.


While a host of weather events can severely disrupt both air and road transport, HSR often continues operating.

Safety is, finally, the most profound aspect of any transport mode’s “reliability”—and here HSR’s record is even more astonishing than its punctuality.

But the net economic costs of HSR’s social benefits, he argues, have to be weighed against the net costs and benefits of other investments.

Of course, the reality is that HSR is as viable as any other transport option, given all the costs— social, economic, and environmental—but that is not always clear to a public that must ultimately pay for a high-speed line’s construction.

In the end, choosing HSR requires careful study, balancing needs, expectations, and, above all, competing claims on public expenditures. Travellers around the world have embraced it.

Benefits of HSR

  • Time savings
  • Overcrowding relief
  • Net revenue
  • Environmental benefits

Cost of HSR

In the UK, a new double-track railway, like HS2, will cost around £76million per km.

A modern train will use up to £1.5million per vehicle.

Signalling systems will be up to £ 3 million/km.

Power supplies and communications will fall into similar price ranges.


HSR Operating Methods

Operating High-Speed Rail (HSR) we can distinguish between two different kinds of Operation methods.

Operational Method 1: High-speed EMUs run exclusively over their own high-speed tracks, which they don’t need to share with other trains. The fundamental reason for this state of affairs must be seen in the different gauges between the High-Speed network and the classic network.

Operational Method 2: High-Speed Trains (HST) also run, more or less, on classic lines.

Categories of HSR according to European Union

– Category I: Specially built high-speed lines equipped for speeds generally equal to or greater than 250 km/h,

– Category II: specially upgraded high-speed lines equipped for speeds of the order of 200 km/h,

– Category III: Specially upgraded high-speed lines or lines specially built for high speed, which have special features as a result of topographical, relief, environmental or town

All categories of the line shall allow the passage of trains with a length of 400 metres and a maximum weight of 1000 tonnes.

Interoperability of HSR

Interoperability simply means that technical specifications for HSR are harmonized on an EU-wide basis so that HSR can cross national boundaries. Since both France and Germany have made their HSR systems integrated and interoperable with their previously existing rail networks, this has resulted in the effective integration of German and French railway networks at the heart of a growing, Europe-wide HSR network.

Line Capacity:

Line capacity is the ability of a railway to carry a certain number of trains in one direction on one track over a certain period. It is determined by how many trains you can run on a track in this direction in an hour and is expressed as trains per hour (tph).

Line capacity will depend on

  • train performance, particularly braking and acceleration
  • train  length
  • Train Controlling system
  • the infrastructure
  • power availability
  • possible maximum line speed
  • the station spacing
  • the terminal design
  • the track gradients
  • the railway control (signalling) systems
  • dwell times at stations
  • terminal operations
  • allowances for speed restrictions

recovery margins

High-speed lines comprise:

– Specially built high-speed lines equipped for speeds generally equal to or greater than 250 km/h,

– Specially upgraded high-speed lines equipped for speeds of the order of 200 km/h,

– specially upgraded high-speed lines which have special features as a result of topographical, relief or town-planning constraints, on which the speed must be adapted to each case

Factors to consider on Line Speed

When designing a new or upgraded high-speed line, consideration should be given to other trains, which may be authorised on the line.

Rolling stock complying with the High-Speed Rolling Stock must be able to negotiate track compliance with limiting values set out in the present.

Infrastructure Interfaces:

From an infrastructure perspective, the most significant issues are probably those relating to:

a) Structure gauge.

b) Overhead line interface.

c) Signalling equipment interface

Functional and technical specifications

The elements characterising the Infrastructure domain are

  • Nominal track gauge
  • Minimum infrastructure gauge
  • Distance between track centres
  • Maximum rising and falling gradients
  • Minimum radius of curvature
  • Track cant
  • Cant deficiency
  • Equivalent conicity
  • Track geometrical quality and limits on isolated defects
  • Rail inclination
  • Railhead profile
  • Switches and crossings
  • Track resistance
  • Traffic loads on structures
  • Global track stiffness
  • Maximum pressure variation in tunnels
  • Effects of crosswinds
  • Electrical characteristics
  • Noise and vibrations
  • Platforms
  • Fire safety and safety in railway tunnels
  • Access to or intrusion into line installations
  • Lateral space for passengers and onboard staff in the event of detrainment outside of a station
  • Distance markers
  • Length of stabling tracks and other locations with very low speed
  • Fixed installations for servicing trains
  • Ballast pick-up
  • Maintenance rules

List of basic parameters to consider in the design

Line layout:

Structure gauge: The infrastructure must be constructed so as to allow safe clearance for the passage of trains complying with the High-Speed Rolling Stock.

The minimum infrastructure gauge is defined by a given swept volume inside which no obstacle must be located or intrude. This volume is determined on the basis of a reference kinematic profile and takes into account the gauge of catenary and the gauge for lower parts. The structure gauge shall be set on the basis of the gauge set out for all the trains operating on the line. Calculations of the structure gauge shall be done using the kinematic method. Where overhead electrification is provided, the pantograph gauges are set out as well.

Distance between track centres: The nominal distance between track centres shall be 3 400 mm on a straight track and curved track with a radius of 400 m or greater.

The distance between track centres shall be set on the basis of the gauge set out for the specific project. Where appropriate the minimum distance between track centres shall also take into account aerodynamic effects. Where appropriate the minimum distance between track centres shall also take into account aerodynamic effects.

Maximum gradients :  

Gradients as steep are permitted for main tracks at the design phase provided the ‘’envelope’’ requirements are observed. The design of gradients for new lines is a complex subject and needs to be considered with other system requirements. It is likely that any new high-speed line needs to connect with the existing network.

Minimum radius of horizontal curve: 

The minimum design radius of horizontal curve shall be selected with regard to the local design speed of the curve. When designing the lines for high-speed operation, the minimum radius of curvature selected shall be such that, for the cant set for the curve under consideration the cant deficiency does not exceed, when running at the maximum speed for which the line is planned

Minimum radius of vertical curve:

When designing the lines for high-speed operation, the minimum radius of curvature selected shall be such that, for the cant set for the curve under consideration the cant deficiency does not exceed, when running at the maximum speed for which the line is planned

Track parameters:
Nominal track gauge :  

Nominal Track gauge is mostly fixed to standard value and for Europe is always 1435 mm

Cant :

The highest cant on a section of the line shall be published in the Register of Infrastructure. The design cant on tracks adjacent to station platforms is limited.

Rate of change of cant (as a function of time) : The design of cants for new lines is a complex subject and needs to be considered with other system requirements.

The maximum rate of change of cant through a transition shall be calculated at the maximum speed permitted for trains not fitted with a cant deficiency compensation system. The design of cants for new lines is a complex subject and needs to be considered with other system requirements.

Cant deficiency: In curves, cant deficiency is the difference, expressed in mm, between the applied cant on the track and the equilibrium cant for the vehicle at the particular stated speed. The maximum cant deficiency at which trains are permitted to run shall take account of the acceptance criteria of the vehicles concerned.

The design for the maximum cant deficiency for new lines is a complex subject and needs to be considered with other system requirements for the project.

Equivalent conicity: The wheel-rail interface is fundamental to explaining the dynamic running behaviour of a railway vehicle. It needs therefore to be understood and, among the parameters by which it is characterised, the one called equivalent conicity plays an essential role since it allows the satisfactory appreciation of the wheel-rail contact, on tangent tracks and on large-radius curves.

Design values of track gauge, rail head profile and rail inclination for plain line shall be selected to ensure that the equivalent conicity limits

Railhead profile for the plain line :

The design of railhead profiles for plain lines shall comprise:

  • a lateral slope on the side of the railhead angled between vertical and reference to the vertical axis of the railhead;
  • a minimum radius of at the gauge corner;
  • a range of horizontal distance between the crown of the rail and the tangent point
  •  a defined vertical distance between the top of this lateral slope and the top of the rail

Rail inclination:

The rail shall be inclined towards the centre of the track. The nominal rail inclination for the GB network is 1/20. If a different nominal value is selected then compatibility with the existing network will be difficult to achieve and through the running of vehicles could give rise to problems.

Indian Railways orders conversion to Broad Gauge

Indian Railways orders conversion to Broad Gauge

Indian Railways plan to standardize all the track gauges to broad gauges to enhance viability, as per the transport minister’s announcement.

“All Metre Gauge lines will be converted into Broad Gauge phase-wise. We have already taken a decision in this regard” Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said in Parliament.

With an aim to enhance passengers’ convenience and commercial viability of Indian Railways, the government today ordered the conversion to Broad Gauge phase-wise.

“All Metre Gauge lines will be converted into Broad Gauge phase-wise. We have already taken a decision in this regard,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said in the parliament during Question Hour.

The Minister said the Railway Ministry has been mobilizing Rs 3.5 lakh crore for the completion of old and incomplete projects gradually. “In the past, foundation stones were laid for many projects without making financial provisions. We have now decided that all sanctioned and old incomplete projects will be completed phase-wise,” he said.

A few days ago Prabhu had said electrification of rail lines will be fast-tracked and doubled in the next five years. He said the railways reached a new record this year in terms of “electrification, laying of new lines, track-doubling work, and fitting of bio-toilets”.
“The number of bio-toilets installed in trains in the last one year matches the figure of the past six years,” he told a gathering after launching various infrastructure-related initiatives of Konkan Railway in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

“The Railways has electrified 48 percent of the country’s tracks and aims to double the same in the next five years. Only broad-gauge lines will be covered under conversion drive. When Railways convert the narrow and meter-gauge tracks into broad gauge ones, they will be electrified too.

“The drive will reduce the use of diesel, cut down cost, protect environment and help in smooth movement of rail traffic,” the Minister said.

Prabhu said the government is also focusing on track-doubling work. “In the last two-and-a-half years, we have sanctioned 12,500 km of track-doubling work. In the last 75 years, we covered only 15,000 km.”

The project will reduce congestion, end train delays, improve safety and ensure fast movement of passengers and freight,” he said.

The minister said the number of trains running on the Konkan Railway route would be doubled in a few years.

“We are working on digitalizing the entire Railway network. We are launching an enterprise resource planning (ERP) program under which more than Rs 10,000 crore would be invested,” he said.

“The digitalization drive will bring a huge improvement in operations, reduce inefficiency and also reduce cost,” the minister added. Furthermore, the  Minister said the Ministry has been mobilizing Rs 3.5 lakh crore for the completion of incomplete projects gradually.

Earlier this year services were launched between Dehli and Itanagar, the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh. This is following the completion of a project to convert the 510km Rangiya – Rangapara – Murkongselek line from meter to broad-gauge.

Indian Railways is set to commission a 2,800 km broad gauge track at the rate of 7.7 km per day. This gauge conversion was a part of the budget announcement for 2015-16. Finally, On November 14, 2016, the last meter gauge trains operated in the city of Jaipur, in Rajasthan.

Indian railways use four gauges:

  • Broad gauge: 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
  • Standard gauge:1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
  • Metre gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)
  • Narrow gauges, 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) and 610 mm (2 ft).
Tow truck operators beware! Drive Shaft Removal - An Important Lesson

Tow truck operators beware! Drive Shaft Removal – An Important Lesson

Many reports have reported that a tow truck operator was injured while removing an RV’s drive shaft. However, the injury could happen with any vehicle.

A motorist saw the operator of a tow truck being struck by the driveline while he was taking out the debris. He suffered severe head injuries and was called our towing Association of California. After reading this horrible description, I thought back to how it happened and what could have been done to prevent it.

This is something I’ve seen many times, having worked in towing for over 30 years. This is a key subject in every employee’s training and it is a tool we use to retrain our employees when we hold safety meetings.

Problems arise when the differential or transmission is locked, causing the drive to bind.

1. Before proceeding with any further steps, the tow truck should be connected to the disabled vehicle using safety chains.

Tow truck operators beware! Drive Shaft Removal - An Important Lesson

2. Do not attempt to remove the drive shaft. Instead, grab it with one hand and gently rock it back and forth until you are satisfied that it is free of play.

3. You can free up one of the drive wheels if there is no free play. This will release the tension on the drive shaft and allow it to play freely. This must be done only if the disabled vehicle has been hooked up to a tow truck. Visit to read about Find out basic safety towing tips.

4. After the tension or binding has been released, the drive shaft can be removed.

Driveline injuries are a common occurrence in the towing industry. The tow truck operator will not be able to remove the drive shaft if the above-mentioned steps aren’t followed. To remove the drive shaft, the tow truck operator uses other tools like a prybar. The drive shaft will pop out and spin like a propeller.

Towing can be dangerous just because you are on the road. Safety should be the number one concern of any tow truck operator.

Steven E Ramirez is an author for, a big rig towing company for over 30 years in Northern California.

Find out basic safety towing tips

Find out basic safety towing tips

Towing is a serious business. Towing requires both business and driving expertise. Towing is a dangerous business. Here are the top safety tips to be aware of for both operators and drivers of tow trucks:

The trailers should not have passengers

It is essential to ensure that no one is seated in the trailer when towing any vehicle. You are putting your passengers at risk and allowing accidents to occur while towing the vehicle.

Ensure proper trailer loading

You can avoid any swaying or shaking when loading the vehicle onto your trailer. You should ensure that the heavier part of the vehicle is loaded ahead of the axle when you tow it. Also, ensure that both the load and vehicle are evenly balanced. To prevent any shifting, ensure that all chains, hooks, or slides are securely attached to the trailer.

Also, you should check the tongue weight. This is the force produced by the trailer against the hitch ball. The tongue weight, which is usually 10 to 15% of the Gross Trailer Weight of the actual trailer weight once it has been fully loaded, is most often between 10 and 15 percent. The trailer might sway if it is too heavy or too light. The trailer may not function properly if it is too heavy. The trailer should be heavier on the front.

Find out basic safety towing tips

Proper driving

It is important to remember that you aren’t just driving the truck when you tow a truck. Your driving performance will be affected by the vehicle you tow. Remember that your tow truck’s speed and acceleration will be affected by the trailer’s weight.

Towing trucks requires extra time when passing, stopping, or changing lanes. Avoid passing on bumpy roads if possible. Avoid driving on rough roads if you have to. Not only will it cause damage to your towing vehicle but also to the trailer. You can read about How towing companies use technology to better serve their customers by visiting

Stop the trailer from swaying and make any necessary adjustments

Sways can’t be prevented completely. You can cause it by sudden wind gusts or sudden changes in speed. If the trailer is swaying excessively, stop the truck and investigate the cause. Make sure to check the trailer load, and make sure the harness equipment is secured.

Truc Tow aims to offer the best towing and trucking accessories at the most affordable prices. For more information, visit 

How towing companies use technology to better serve their customers

How towing companies use technology to better serve their customers

Different types of technology are used by tow truck companies across the country to better serve customers. To keep their offices organized and dispatch towing calls, many still use paper and pen. Others have embraced technology to be more efficient and effective in towing cars, trucks, SUVs, and trucks.

How towing companies use technology to better serve their customers

Towing companies face unique challenges that are not faced by other service industries. Their response time must be immediate. This means the dispatcher must know exactly where their trucks and drivers are, and what equipment is needed to complete each tow. There are many challenges. One is that calls come in constantly and it is impossible to predict when they will stop. A unique aspect of towing companies is their availability 24 hours a day. This means that the business does not stop and the employees do not. Click here to read about Tow truck operators beware! Drive Shaft Removal – An Important Lesson.

Many towing companies offer car removal services. These calls can be made at any hour of the day. Customers expect fast responses and don’t like waiting. A system that schedules call in real-time will help ensure better customer service. Once solutions are one company that provides these services. Obscene solutions’ towing dispatch software allows dispatchers access to the truck’s location at all times. This is an important advantage, especially if you provide roadside assistance. It is vital that the towing company responds promptly when a customer is stuck on the sidelines due to a flat tire or lockout.

North Shore Towing, Evanston, IL is one company that makes use of top-of-the-line towing technology. North Shore Towing provides car removal and roadside assistance. They will tow any vehicle regardless of the circumstances. North Shore serves the Chicago and surrounding suburbs.