The story behind the width of railway tracks

The common story that explains the 56.5” wide railway tracks is as follows (read more):

The 56.5” width (gauge) for rail tracks is the same as that of tramways, made with the help of the same jigs and tools that were used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing. Throughout England the same spacing was used for older wagon ruts, which were actually brought in by the Romans whose chariots had the same width. And the width of the chariot was dictated by the width of two Roman horses. Hence, the width of rail tracks is actually the width of two standard Roman horses!

However, it seems that there is no historical evidence to prove this. Also, the width of the two horses would be more than the chariot and the wheels behind them.

In an article on www.railway.org by D. Gabe Gabriel, he says that it was an Englishman named George Stephenson who started experimenting with putting a steam engine on the carts so there would be propulsion to pull them along.  He had worked with several mines with differing gauges and simply chose to make the rails for his project 4-foot, eight inches wide.  He later decided that adding another six inches made things easier.  He was later consulted for constructing some rails along a roadway and by the time broader plans for railroads in Great Britain were proposed, there were already 1200 miles of his rails so the “Stephenson gauge” became the standard.

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Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.

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