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GC/RT5017
Issue Two
Date December 1998

Track Standards
Manual -
Section 8:
Track Geometry

Synopsis
This section of the Track Standards
Manual sets down the minimum
requirements for design, inspection
and maintenance relating to track
geometry of the permanent way
forming part of Railtrack’s
infrastructure.

Submitted by

This document is the property of


Railtrack PLC. It shall not be
reproduced in whole or in part without
Patricia Dingwall the written permission of the Controller,
Standards Project Manager Railway Group Standards,
Railtrack PLC.
Authorised by
Published by
Safety & Standards Directorate,
Railtrack PLC,
Floor DP01, Railtrack House,
Euston Square,
London NW1 2EE
Richard Spoors
Controller, Railway Group Standards © Copyright 1998 Railtrack PLC
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Railway Group Standard
GC/RT5017
Track Standards Manual - Section 8: Issue Two
Track Geometry Date December 1998
Page 1 of 14

Contents
Section Description Page

Part A
Issue Record 2
Responsibilities and distribution 2
Implementation 2
Health and Safety Responsibilities 2
Supply 2

Part B
1 Purpose 3
2 Scope 3
3 Definitions 3
4 Principles 4
5 Requirements 5
6 Normal Limiting Values 6
7 Exceptional Design Values 7
8 Maximum Speed Assessment 8
9 Radius on S&C 8
10 Track Geometry Recording 9

Appendix
A Equations 12

References 14

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Date December 1998
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Part A
Issue Record
This Standard will be updated when necessary by distribution of a complete
replacement.

Amended or additional parts of revised pages will be marked by a vertical black


line in the adjacent margin.

Issue Date Comments


1 September 1995 Original Document
2 December 1998 Revised document

This Standard forms part of GC/RM5600 'Track Standards Manual'.

Responsibilities and
Distribution
This Standard shall be complied with by all persons who are responsible for the
design, installation, inspection and maintenance of the track geometry on
Railtrack controlled infrastructure *The Railway Group comprises Railtrack and
the duty holders of the Railway Safety Cases accepted by Railtrack

Implementation
The provisions in this Railway Group Standard are to be complied with from
6th February 1999, with the exception of Clauses 5.6 and 5.9 which shall be
February 2001 and Clause 5.13 which shall be February 2004.

Health and Safety


Responsibilities
Railtrack PLC makes no warranties, express or implied, that compliance with all
or any of Railway Group Standards is sufficient on its own to ensure safety
systems of work or operation. Each user is reminded of its own responsibilities to
ensure health and safety at work and its individual duties under health and safety
legislation.

Supply
Controlled and uncontrolled copies of this Standard may be obtained from the
Industry Safety Liaison Dept, Safety and Standards Directorate, Railtrack PLC,
Railtrack House DP01, Euston Square, London, NW1 2EE.

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Track Geometry Date December 1998
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Part B
1 Purpose
The purpose of this Standard is to define the requirements for track geometry in
terms of the management of horizontal and vertical alignment, in connection with
curvature and permitted line speeds.

It sets out the minimum inspection frequencies and the minimum actions to be
taken upon discovery of non-conformance with track geometry standards.

2 Scope
The contents of this Standard apply to all running lines and sidings on Railtrack
controlled infrastructure.

3 Definitions
CIRCULAR CURVE
A curve of constant radius.

TRANSITION CURVE
A curve of varying curvature. It is normally provided between two Circular curves,
each of different radius, or between a Circular curve and a Straight.

COMPOUND CURVE
A curve which is formed from similar flexure curves of different radii, which may
be connected by Transition Curves.

REVERSE CURVE
A curve formed by two Circular Curves, which curve in opposite directions and
which may be connected by Transition Curves.

HORIZONTAL CURVE
A curve in the track used to join two alignments in plan.

REVERSE POINT
The point of infinite radius at which two curves of opposite flexure meet.

VERTICAL CURVE
A curve in the longitudinal profile of track used to join two gradients together.

CANT
The amount by which one running rail is raised above the other running rail;
measured at the centre of the rail head (It may be expressed as a difference in
height or in terms of an angle).

 Cant is positive when the outer rail on a curve is raised above the inner rail
and is negative when the inner rail is raised above the outer rail.
 Negative Cant may be unavoidable at S&C on a Canted main line where the
turnout is curving in the opposite direction (contra flexure) from the main line
or at the plain line immediately adjoining the turnout.

EQUILIBRIUM SPEED
The speed of a vehicle following a curved path is such that the resultant of the
weight of the vehicle and the effect of centrifugal force is perpendicular to the
plane of the rails.

EQUILIBRIUM CANT
The amount that it is necessary to raise one running rail above the level of the
other running rail to obtain Equilibrium at a nominated speed.

CANT DEFICIENCY
The difference between actual Cant and the theoretical Cant that would have to
be applied to maintain Equilibrium at a nominated speed (Cant deficiency is
expressed in the same terms as cant).
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PERMISSIBLE SPEED
The speed which may be permitted on a curve with associated transitions when
radius, Cant, Cant Deficiency, Cant gradient and rates of change of Cant and
Cant Deficiency have all been taken into consideration together with the
characteristics of the trains. When the Permissible Speed of the curve or part of
the curve is less than the route speed limit for the particular type of train it will be
necessary to impose a lower Permanent Speed Restriction at that location.

LINE SPEED LIMIT


The maximum speed at which traffic is allowed to run on a line or on sections of a
line. The Line Speed Limit is usually established after taking into consideration
the incidence of permanent speed restrictions and the type of traffic on the line.

TRACK GRADIENT
The distance travelled horizontally for a rise of one unit (expressed as 1 in X,
where X is the distance travelled horizontally. (May be expressed in terms of an
angle or a percentage.)

CANT GRADIENT
The amount by which Cant is increased or decreased in a given length of track,
e.g. 1 in 1200 means that a Cant of 1mm is gained or lost in every 1200mm of
track.

RATE OF CHANGE OF CANT OR RATE OF CHANGE OF CANT DEFICIENCY


The rate at which Cant or Cant Deficiency is increased or reduced relative to the
maximum speed of a vehicle passing over the Transition Curve, e.g. 35mm per
second means that a vehicle when travelling at the maximum speed permitted will
experience a change in Cant or Cant Deficiency of 35mm in each second while
travelling over the length of transition.

TRACK TWIST
The variation in cross level over a given distance along the track. It has the same
value as Cant Gradient, except the term Track Twist is normally associated with
higher values which are considered to be faults.

4 Principles
4.1
The horizontal and vertical geometry shall be designed according to the normal
train operating speed.

4.2
The track geometry shall be measured and recorded at a periodicity based on the
expected deterioration of the track and the minimum requirements to prevent the
track deteriorating into a condition which may cause:

 derailments
 unacceptable clearances
 a risk of injuries from uneven ride, etc.

4.3
Upon discovery of substandard track, corrective action shall be carried out within
timescales which are based on expected further deterioration and which will
prevent an unsafe condition occurring.

4.4
Where this Standard refers to ‘Railtrack’ this will have the meaning of the
Railtrack Line organisation at Zone level responsible for compliance with Railway
Group and Corporate Standards.

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5 Requirements
5.1
On running lines, Horizontal Curves shall consist of one or more Circular Curves.
They must be connected to the adjacent curved or straight track by a Transition
Curve to meet the Rate of Change of Cant and / or Cant Deficiency requirements.

5.2
Cant shall be designed and maintained such that:

 the lateral forces and variation in loading on both rails is minimised for the
expected traffic on the route, and
 there is no risk of vehicles overturning when travelling at maximum speed or
when stationary.

5.3
Cant and alignment design affecting structural or passing clearances shall take
account of the requirements of GC/RT5204.

5.4
Cant shall increase or decrease in proportion to curvature over the whole length
of the Transition Curve between two Circular Curves or between a Circular Curve
and straight track and shall be specified in multiples of 5mm. It shall take into
account:

 permitted Line Speed Limit;


 relative importance and speeds of the various types of traffic using the line.

5.5
The Cant on each track of a double or multiple line shall be considered
separately.

5.6
The maximum Cant on sharp radius curves shall not be greater than shown in the
following table.

Radius in metres Maximum Applied Cant in mm


 200m 150 mm
 200m but  150m 100 mm
 150m but  100m 50mm
 100m 25mm

5.7
When switches and crossings are located on curved track, the Cant to be applied
on the through line shall not cause the maximum permitted value of negative
Cant to be exceeded on a turnout of contra flexure.

5.8
All new sidings, whether straight or curved shall, where reasonably practicable,
be laid without Cant and the Track Gradient of standing sidings shall not be
steeper than 1 in 500.

5.9
Horizontal Curves shall be designed to take account of the curving characteristics
of the vehicles likely to use the track but shall not be less than 120m radius on
passenger running lines.

The normal minimum radius on non-passenger running lines and sidings is 90m.
(70m with Railtrack permission)

Records shall be kept of all locations with curves below 90m radius.

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5.10
The minimum radius of each Curve meeting at a Reverse Point on a passenger
running line is 140m and for non-passenger lines and sidings is 120m. Abutting
Curves of opposite hands, where one curve is less than 160m radius, shall be
connected by straight track of length equal to or greater than the wheel base of
the longest vehicle likely to use the line, or transitions installed, to prevent
horizontal buffer locking. There are no extra requirements for Compound Curves.

5.11
The relative levels of adjacent tracks shall be designed to maintain adequate
ballast shoulders as required for stability.

5.12
The track shall be maintained such that twists worse than 1 in 200 are managed.
The timescales for the required actions where such faults occur are specified in
10.2.2.

5.13
Records of all Track Gradients and horizontal curves on running lines shall be
maintained. Details to be recorded shall include:

 cants;
 transition details;
 radius;
 maximum allowable speeds for various rolling stock types likely to use the
route.

Vertical curves below 1Km radius shall also be recorded.

6 Normal Limiting
Values
The Normal Limiting design values, which are compatible with the inspection and
maintenance requirements specified in Railway Group Standards, are as follows:

6.1
 Cant: 150mm;
 Cant within station platforms: 110mm;
 Cant on fixed obtuse crossings: 110mm.

6.2
Negative Cant shall not be installed except on or adjacent to S&C where the
values are:

 65mm for fixed obtuse crossings and;


 80mm elsewhere.

6.3
Cant Gradient: 1 in 400.
The following effects shall be taken into account when proposing to install cant
gradients approaching this value:

 effect of top planing of crossing noses at the point of load transfer through
switches and crossings;
 deflection on skew underbridges.

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6.4
Swing nose crossings shall not be installed on a Cant gradient.

6.5
Rate of Change of Cant: 55mm/sec.

6.6
Cant Deficiency:

 Jointed Track : 90mm;


 CWR : 110mm.

(see also clause 9.1).

6.7
The Rate of Change of Cant Deficiency on plain line, on all inclined S&C and on
the through tracks of vertical S&C: 55mm/sec.

The Rate of Change of Cant Deficiency elsewhere on vertical S&C: 80 mm/sec.


The rate of change at the switch toes can be disregarded.

6.8
Vertical radii (concave and convex): 1 km

Vertical acceleration experienced in a vehicle : 0.06g.


An equation for calculating radii is given in Appendix A.

6.9
Track Gradient 1:40

7 Exceptional
Design Values
It shall be permissible to use exceptional design values provided that any
increase in risk is assessed and managed. Railtrack shall maintain records of the
assessments used.

7.1
Track Gradient : 1:25

Design of Track Gradients shall take account of interfaces which include:

 vehicles (braking and power);


 signalling requirements;
 maintenance regime.

7.2
Cant on plane line : 180mm;
Cant within station : 130mm.

7.3
Cant Deficiency on plain line jointed track may be up to 110mm for suitably
approved rolling stock only e.g. Class 15x “Sprinters”.

Cant Deficiency on plain line CWR for “Passenger” rolling stock (as defined in
GO/RT3000) provided that no S&C, catch points, adjustment switches, level
crossings or other features likely to contribute to lateral misalignment are situated
on the transition or curve: 150mm

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7.4
Rate of Change of Cant on plain line: 85mm/sec.

7.5
The Rate of Change of Cant Deficiency on plain line, on all inclined S&C and on
the through tracks of vertical S&C: 70mm/sec.

(The Rate of Change of Cant Deficiency elsewhere on vertical S&C remains the
same as in 6.7.)

7.6
Radius of vertical curves in passenger lines, (where there is at least 30m
constant gradient between reverse Vertical Curves and the maximum
acceleration rate specified in clause 6.8 is observed: 500m.

Radius of Vertical Curves in non - passenger running lines and sidings: 200m.
The ability of the rolling stock to transverse the Vertical Curves shall include
consideration of:

 vertical buffer locking


 coupling / interconnection designs
 under clearances

7.7
For trial or evaluation purposes it shall be permissible to exceed the requirements
specified in sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 where any necessary enhancements (based on
risk assessments) to the inspection, maintenance and other requirements
specified in Railway Group Standards have been approved by Railtrack and are
being adhered to.

8 Maximum Speed
Assessment
The Permissible Speed of trains on a curve of given radius and Cant shall take
into account the radius of the curve, applied Cant, Cant Deficiency, Cant Gradient
and rates of change of Cant and Cant Deficiency. The maximum speed equation
is specified in Appendix A. Maximum speeds shall be rounded to the nearest
multiple of 5 mph relative to the calculated maximum speed.

9 Radius on S&C
9.1 Switches
The theoretical Cant Deficiency at the toes of switches shall not exceed 125mm.
In order to assess the maximum permitted speed it is necessary to calculate the
radius at the switch toes. The radius shall be obtained by calculating the offset at
the toes based on a 12.2m chord centred about the switch toe. An equation is
given in Appendix A.

9.2 Turnouts - Diverging and Converging


Where the main line is curved, the turnout radius shall be used for the
determination of speeds through the turnout. An equation is given in
Appendix A.

10 Track Geometry
Recording
10.1 Frequencies
Track geometry recording frequencies are based on the Track Category Matrix as
defined in the Track Standards Manual - Section 1: Basic Track Category Matrix
GC/RT5023.

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150

140

Cat 1

100

SPEED
mph

50

Cat Cat 2
5 Cat 3

Cat Cat 4
6
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60

EQUIVALENT MILLION GROSS TONNES PER ANNUM

10.1.1
The track geometry shall be recorded, using a Railtrack approved track geometry
recording vehicle, at intervals as specified in the following table or at a greater
frequency if the condition of the track is such that the recommended frequency is
insufficient to prevent an unsafe condition occurring.

Track Category Nominal interval Maximum interval


(months) (months)
1 3 4
2 6 8
3, 4, 5, 6 12 14

10.1.2
Lines with a maximum speed of 20mph or less need not be recorded, unless
carrying dangerous goods, in which case the route shall be inspected by manual
methods approved by Railtrack or by a Railtrack approved track geometry
recording vehicle.

10.1.3
It is accepted that not all running loops, platform lines, station throats and
crossovers can be recorded at the required frequencies. It is therefore essential
that when a recording is made the results are examined closely and any sections
not recorded are noted. Increased inspections using manual measurements shall
be considered on such lengths of track.

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10.2 Recordings
10.2.1 Track Quality Measurement
The following shall be measured:

 3m and 5m twists;
 the vertical profile of the rails, filtering out wave lengths greater than 35
metres;
 the alignment of the rails, filtering out wave lengths greater than 35 metres.

Standard Deviation (  ) must be calculated using the Standard Deviation


equation in appendix A.

The maximum permitted standard deviations in mm are as follows:

LINESPEED 35 metre vertical 35 metre


(mph) profile alignment
10 - 20 8.3 9.3
25 - 30 7.7 8.6
35 - 40 7.2 7.9
45 - 50 6.7 7.3
55 - 60 6.3 7.0
65 - 70 6.0 6.7
75 - 80 5.7 6.3
85 - 95 5.3 6.0
100 - 110 5.0 5.7
115 - 125 4.7 5.0
130 - 140 4.4 4.7
Note: These values are for eighth mile sections.

Where standard deviations are greater than those specified in the table,
appropriate action shall be taken to either improve the track geometry or the
linespeed must be reduced to a level where the standard deviation is below the
maximum permitted.

10.2.2 Exceedence Limits


In addition to the measurements required for the above calculations, sufficient
measurements shall be made to enable any isolated irregularities to be identified.
If any of the irregularities listed below are discovered, the stated action shall be
carried out within the specified time scales:

IRREGULARITIES ACTION

Dynamic Twist of 1 in 90 or worse Stop all traffic immediately

Dynamic Twist between Correct within 36 hrs. of recording


1 in 91 and 1 in 125
Dynamic Twist between Correct within 10 working days of
1 in 126 and 1 in 199 recording

Variation in cyclic top of 20 mm Inspect, assess risk and apply


appropriate temporary speed restriction.

The stated actions are where the irregularities are occurring in track with no other
significant faults. Where there are other faults known, an assessment shall be
carried out, and where required, more stringent action taken.

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Track Geometry Date December 1998
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The corrective action taken and date completed must be recorded. Records shall
be retained for 2 years for audit purposes.

10.3
Railtrack shall ensure that all reports of track condition are received by the
relevant infrastructure contractor in sufficient time for any remedial work to be
carried out in accordance with any required minimum actions.

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Appendix A
Equations
1. Permissible Speed

R( E  D)
V
11.82

When V = speed (kph)


R = radius of curve (m)

. V2
1182
ED
R
E = applied Cant (mm)
D = Cant Deficiency (mm)

2. Standard Deviation

  1 m  ( a1  a ) 2

where:
a = mean value a1 = sample value
m = total no. of values

3. Effective Radius - Switches

C2
R
8V
where:

R = radius
C = chord (12.2 metres) central about the switch toe
V = versine

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4. Effective Radius - Turnouts diverging with contra flexure

R R
Re  m
Rm  R

Where
Re = effective radius Rm = radius of main line
RT = radius of turnout curve

5. Effective Radius - Turnouts diverging with similar flexure

Rm  R
Re 
Rm  R

Where
Re = effective radius Rm = radius of main line
RT = radius of turnout curve

6. Vertical Radius for an acceleration rate of 0.06g

V2
R=
7628
Where
R = radius in km and V = speed (kph)

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References
GC/RT5204 Structure Gauging and Clearances

GC/RT5023 Track Standards Manual - Section 1: Basic Track Category Matrix

GO/RT3000 The Master Rule Book

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