12:16 in Magazine - article by stationmaster
How to get traction?
In this issue, Railways Africa features wheels, axles, bogies and other key components – the global industry is a cornucopia of this hard core of railways. The three components mentioned support aggressive competitiveness when applied to standard-gauge track, but are quickly emasculated if applied to narrow-gauge.
To repeat once more, the strengths of standard-gauge, and the weaknesses of narrow-gauge, stem from the vertical and lateral components of wheel-rail interaction. The vertical component supports heavy axle-load, the lateral component supports high-speed. They underpin rail’s inherent competitiveness in the heavy-haul, double-stack, and high-speed market spaces, three applications where rail dominates all competitors. Alas, narrow track gauge frustrates attainment of the heaviest axle loads and the highest speeds, while standard-gauge excels. Narrow-gauge railways are thereby denied access to market spaces in which standard-gauge railways are inherently competitive. With few exceptions, Gautrain for one, railways in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot enter market spaces where rail is inherently competitive and sustainable.