Sleeper Density and Spacing of Sleepers

Sleeper density is the number of sleepers per rail length. It is specified as M+x or N+x, where M or N is the length of the rail in metres and x is a number that varies according to factors such as (a) axle load and speed, (b) type and section of rails,

(c) type and strength of the sleepers, (d) type of ballast and ballast cushion, and

(e) nature of formation.

If the sleeper density is M + 7 on a broad gauge route and the length of the rail is 13 m, it means that 13 + 7 = 20 sleepers will be used per rail on that route. The number of sleepers in a track can also be specified by indicating the number of sleepers per kilometre of the track. For example, 1540 sleepers/km. This specification becomes more relevant particularly in cases where rails are welded and the length of the rail does not have much bearing on the number of sleepers required. This system of specifying the number of sleepers per kilometre exists in many foreign countries and is now being adopted by Indian Railways as well.

The spacing of sleepers is fixed depending upon the sleeper density. Spacing is not kept uniform throughout the rail length. It is closer near the joints because of the weakness of the joints and impact of moving loads on them. There is, however, a limitation to the close spacing of the sleepers, as enough space is required for working the beaters that are used to pack the joint sleepers. The standard spacing specifications adopted for a fish-plated track on Indian Railways are given in Table 7.1. The notations used in this table are explained in Fig. 7.1.

Table 7.1 Spacing of sleepers for a fish-plated track

Spacing of sleepers

Broad gauge

Meter gauge

centre-to-centre

centre-to-centre

spacing (mm)

spacing (mm)

Wooden

Metal

Wooden

Metal

Between joint sleepers (a)

300

380

250

330

Between joint sleepers and the first

610

610

580

580

shoulder sleeper (b)

Between first shoulder sleeper and

700

720

700

710

second shoulder sleeper (c) for sleeper density M + 4

(640)*

(630)

(620)

(600)

Between intermediate sleepers (d)

840

830

820

810

for sleeper density M + 4

(680)

(680)

(720)

(640)

* Values within parentheses are those for sleeper density M + 7.

Now-a-days sleeper density is also indicated in terms of the number of sleepers/ km. The sleeper spacing required for various sleeper densities is given in Table 7.2.

Spacing of sleepers on a fish-plated track
Fig. 7.1 Spacing of sleepers on a fish-plated track

Table 7.2 Spacing of sleepers for welded track

No. of sleepers per km

1660

Exact centre-to-centre spacing required as per calculation (mm)

602.4

Centre-to-cen be provided in

LWR track

600

itre spacing to 1 the field (mm)

SWR track

1540

649.3

650

660

1310

763.3

-

780

Functions and Requirements of Sleepers | RAILWAY ENGINEERING - Contents | Types of Sleepers