My copy of “Essential Engineering Information and Data” published in 1991 shows U.S. gage as “56 1/2” between inside of rails, measured 5/8" below top of rail. The gage may vary from 56 3/8" on some high-speed tangent track to 57 1/4" on curves of small radius.
Major railroad gages in use throughout the World (same source):
36" (914mm) - Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras*, Panama*, Venezuela*
39 3/8" (1000mm) - Algeria*, Argentina*, Austria*, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil*, Chile*, Czechoslovakia*, Egypt*, Ethiopia, France*, East Germany*, West Germany*, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru*, Puerto Rico, Spain*, Switzerland*, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, USSR*, Vietnam, Zaire*
42" (1067mm) - Angola, Australia*, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Gabon, Honduras*, Indonesia, Malawai, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway*, Philippines, Rhodesia, Sudan, Union of South Africa, Venezuela*, Zaire*, Zambia
56 1/2" (1435mm) - Algeria*, Australia*, Austria*, Argentina*, Belgium*, Brazil*, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia*, Denmark, Egypt*, France*, East Germany*, West Germany*, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway*, Paraguay, Peru*, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland*, Syria, Turkey, United States, Uruguay
60" (1524mm) - Czechoslovakia*, Finland, Panama*, USSR*
63" (1600mm) - Brazil*
65 5/8" (1668mm) - Spain*
66" (1676mm) - Argentina*, Chile*, India, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain*
- Indicates countries having more than one standard gage.
My analysis may be wrong, but it appears to me that most adjoining countries share a common gage, rather than something different from their adjoining countries. Using a different gage than your neighbors’ makes sense militarily, but wouldn’t it also create trouble for international trade?
I don’t have the answer to the 56 1/2" question, yet. I do however have some contacts in the engineering (no, not the guys on the locomotives with the striped hats) departments of several railroads. I have forwarded the question to them and I will update the TM’s as I get information back. Stay tuned.
Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
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