The first rails used were double headed (DH) and made of an I or dumb-bell section (Fig. 6.1). The idea was that once the head wore out during service, the rail could be inverted and reused. Experience, however, showed that while in service the bottom table of the rail was dented to such an extent because of long and continuous contact with the chairs that it was not possible to reuse it. This led to the development of the bull headed (BH) rail, which had an almost similar shape but with more metal in the head to better withstand wear and tear (Fig. 6.2). This rail section had the major drawback that chairs were required for fixing it to the sleepers.
A flat-footed rail, also called a vignole rail (Fig. 6.3), with an inverted T-type cross section of inverted T- type was, therefore, developed, which could be fixed directly to the sleepers with the help of spikes. Another advantage of the flat-footed
rail is that it is a more economical design, giving greater strength and lateral stability to the track as compared to a BH rail for a given cross-sectional area. The flatfooted (FF) rail has been standardized for adoption on Indian Railways.
Fig. 6.2 Bull headed rail
Fig. 6.3 Flat-footed rail