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The very first design feature of the curve is the degree of curve. There are 2
ways by which the curves can be designated; one is by their curvature and another one is by
their radius. In the case of curvature the degree of curve is the way by which it can be done and
this degree of curve can be found out by the angle which is subtended at the center of the curve
by a chord of 30.5 meter or 100 feet long.

If we know the radius of the circular curve in meters then by using this equation

D/360=30.5m/2r Simplifying we get that,

D=1750/ R

So if we know the degree of the curve then we can also calculate the radius of the curve
using the same formula.

If the radius of curve is more, then it is called as flatter curve and if the radius is small
then it is a sharp curve. As the sharpness of the curve increases there are the chance of
overturning May also increase and therefore we have to look at that value up to which we go
without creating any further problem as far as the safety of the movement of the vehicles is

But if the degree of curve is large then it is a sharp curve if it is less it is called as smooth
or flatter curve.

Both of these features are controlled by two things.

1. Wheel base.
2. Sharpness of curve.

In the case of wheel base of the vehicle, depending on the size of the vehicle the wheel
base will be defined and if there is a certain wheel base then it has a tendency to move
smoothly by taking a turn at some angle or by taking a turn with respect to the certain radius.
So looking at that turning behavior or steering of the wheel base is smoothly without any
safety hazard that is going to decide what should be the minimum radius of any curve.

So these are the 2 factors decides what should be the minimum value of the radius or
what should be the maximum value of the degree of the curve. Based on all these
considerations the maximum degree of curvature has been defined for different gauges of the
gauge Degree of curve Radius of curvature
B.G 10 175 mm
M.G 16 109 mm
N.G 400 44 mm

The compensation of degree of curve is nothing but suitable change in in degree

of curvature due to the change of direction of course (turnout).

gauge Degree of curve Radius of curvature

B.G 80 218
M.G 150 116
N.G 170 103

In the case of plane track the value for broad gauge is being fixed at the maximum for
10 degrees, for meter gauge it is 16 degrees because here the wheel base is reducing and when
the wheel base is reducing it means it has the possibility to negotiate a sharper curve and then
in the case of narrow gauge further the wheel base is further reduced the size of the locomotive
has reduced, the size of the wagon has reduced therefore it can go up to higher value of the
degree and this is 40 degrees. So these are the maximum values 10 degrees, 16 degrees and 40
degrees for all these tracks and it results in the radius of minimum 175 meters or 109 meters or
44 meter in the case of broad gauge, meter gauge and narrow gauge respectively.

Similarly, wherever there is location from where the change in the direction of track can
be done that is what is termed as turnout, at that location it is restricted to a value of 8 degrees
in broad gauge, 15 degree in meter gauge and 17 degree in the narrow gauge and it transforms
to a value of 218 meters of radius in broad gauge, 116 meters radius in meter gauge and 103
meter radius in narrow gauge. So these are the values or the design features for this straight
track and for the turnout track and they are used in the various design of turn out or the plane


When a train negotiates through a curve at a specific speed a horizontal pull will act on
locomotives. This horizontal pull forces the flanges to move toward the outer rail which causes
the wear and tear of rail.

In railways at turn outs or turnings outer rails will be raised to a specified elevation
above the provided elevation of inner rail is called as super elevation or cant. Which does not
allow the flanges to contact with outer rail. The inner rail is taken as the reference rail and is
normally maintained at its original level. The inner rail is also known as the gradient rail.
The main functions of super elevation are the following.

(a) To ensure a better distribution of load on both rails

(b) To reduce the wear and tear of the rails and rolling stock

(c) To neutralize the effect of lateral forces

(d) To provide comfort to passengers

Equilibrium speed when the speed of a vehicle negotiating a curved track is such that the
resultant force of the weight of the vehicle and of radial acceleration is perpendicular to the plane
of the rails, the vehicle is not subjected to any unbalanced radial acceleration and is said to be in
equilibrium. This particular speed is called the equilibrium speed. The equilibrium speed, as
such, is the speed at which the effect of the centrifugal force is completely balanced by the cant

Maximum permissible speed this is the highest speed permitted to a train on a curve taking into
consideration the radius of curvature, actual cant, cant deficiency, cant excess, and the length of
transition. On curves where the maximum permissible speed is less than the maximum sectional
speed of the section of the line, permanent speed restriction becomes necessary.

Cant deficiency Cant deficiency (Cd) occurs when a train travels around a curve at a speed
higher than the equilibrium speed. It is the difference between the theoretical cant required for
such high speeds and the actual cant provided.
Cant excess Cant excess (Ce) occurs when a train travels around a curve at a speed lower than
the equilibrium speed. It is the difference between the actual cant provided and the theoretical
cant required for such a low speed.

Cant gradient and cant deficiency gradient These indicate the increase or decrease in the cant
or the deficiency of cant in a given length of transition. A gradient of 1 in 1000 means that a cant
or a deficiency of cant of 1 mm is attained or lost in every 1000 mm of transition length.

Rate of change of cant or cant deficiency This is the rate at which cant deficiency increases
while passing over the transition curve, e.g., a rate of 35 mm per second means that a vehicle will
experience a change in cant or a cant deficiency of 35 mm in each second of travel over the
transition when travelling at the maximum permissible speed.
Centrifugal Force on a Curved Track

A vehicle has a tendency to travel in a straight direction, which is tangential to the curve, even
when it moves on a circular curve. As a result, the vehicle is subjected to a constant radial
Radial acceleration = g = V2/R

where V is the velocity (metres per second) and R is the radius of curve (metres). This radial
acceleration produces a centrifugal force which acts in a radial direction away from the centre.
The value of the centrifugal force is given by the formula

Force = mass X acceleration F= m X( V2/R)

F = (W/g) X ( V2/R)

where F is the centrifugal force (tons), W is the weight of the vehicle (tones), V is the speed
(meter/sec),g is the acceleration due to gravity (meter/sec2), and R is the radius of the curve

To counteract the effect of the centrifugal force, the outer rail of the curve is elevated with
respect to the inner rail by an amount equal to the super elevation. A state of equilibrium is
reached when both the wheels exert equal pressure on the rails and the super elevation is enough
to bring the resultant of the centrifugal force and the force exerted by the weight of the vehicle at
right angles to the plane of the top surface of the rails. In this state of equilibrium, the difference
in the heights of the outer and inner rails of the curve known as equilibrium super elevation

if q is the angle that the inclined plane makes with the horizontal line, then
where e is the equilibrium super elevation, G is the gauge, V is the velocity, g is the acceleration
due to gravity, and R is the radius of the curve. In the metric system equilibrium super elevation
is given by the formula


where e is the super elevation in millimeters, V is the speed in km/h, R is the radius of the curve
in meters, and G is the dynamic gauge in millimeters, which is equal to the sum of the gauge and
the width of the rail head in millimeters. This is equal to 1750 mm for BG tracks and 1058 mm
for MG tracks
A field engineer can adopt the following thumb rules for determining the super elevation of any

(a) Super elevation for BG in cm

(b) For MG tracks the value of super elevation is taken as three-fifths of the value calculated
using the preceding formula. The equilibrium speed is used in this formula.
As per the revised standards, the chief engineer (CE) should decide the equilibrium speed that
would be required for the determination of the cant to be provided on a curve after careful
deliberation and taking into consideration the following factors.

(a) The maximum permissible speed which can actually be achieved both by fast trains and by
goods trains

(b) Permanent and temporary speed restrictions

(c) Number of stoppages

Composition of both slow and fast trains

After deciding the equilibrium speed as described, the amount of superelevation to be provided
is calculated using the following formula:

where e is the super elevation in mm, V is the speed in km/h, G is the dynamic gauge (1750 mm
for BG and 1058 mm for MG tracks), and R is the radius of the curve in meters.

For example, if the maximum sanctioned speed (MSS) of the section is 100 km/h, the
equilibrium speed may be taken as 75% of the MSS, i.e., 75 km/h. The super elevation for a 1 o
curve as calculated by the thumb rule is as follows:
Note that presuming that the MSS is 100 km/h, the thumb rule is that for every 1 o of
curve, the cant is approximately 43 mm for BG tracks and 25 mm for MG tracks.

Cant Deficiency and Cant Excess

Cant deficiency is the difference between the equilibrium cant that is necessary for the maximum
permissible speed on a curve and the actual cant provided. Cant deficiency is limited due to two

Higher cant deficiency causes greater discomfort to passengers and

Higher cant deficiency leads to greater unbalanced centrifugal forces, which in turn lead to the
requirement of stronger tracks and fastenings to withstand the resultant greater lateral forces.
The maximum values of cant deficiency prescribed for Indian Railways are given in Table

Negative Super elevation

When the main line lies on a curve and has a turnout of contrary flexure leading to a branch
line, the super elevation necessary for the average speed of trains running over the main line
curve cannot be provided. In Fig. 13.9, AB, which is the outer rail of the main line curve, must
be higher than CD. For the branch line, however, CF should be higher than AE or point C
should be higher than point A. These two contradictory conditions cannot be met within one
layout. In such cases, the branch line curve has a negative super elevation and, therefore,
speeds on both tracks must be restricted, particularly on the branch line.
The provision of negative super elevation for the branch line and the reduction in speed over
the main line can be calculated as follows.

(i)The equilibrium super elevation for the branch line curve is first calculated using the formula

(ii) The equilibrium super elevation e is reduced by the permissible cant deficiency Cd and the
resultant super elevation to be provided is

x = e - Cd
Where, x is the super elevation, e is the equilibrium super elevation, and Cd is 75 mm for
BG and 50 mm for MG. The value of Cd is generally higher than that of e, and,
therefore, x is normally negative. The branch line thus has a negative super elevation of x.
(iii) The maximum permissible speed on the main line, which has a super elevation of x, is
then calculated by adding the allowable cant deficiency (x + Cd). The safe speed is also
calculated and smaller of the two values is taken as the maximum permissible speed on
the main line curve.