Berne gauge

Berne gauge

The Berne Gauge [Berne and all that, G Hafter, Modern Railways, April 1992] or Berne Convention Gauge is an informal but widely-used term for the railway loading gauge considered the standard gauge in continental Europe. The term arises from the international railway conference held and consequent convention signed in Berne, Switzerland in 1912. The official name of this gauge is the Gabarit passe-partout international (PPI), literally pass-everywhere international, and it came into force in 1914.

The European (Berne) loading gauge is usually 10 ft 2 in (3150 mm) wide by 10 ft 5 in (3175 mm) rising to 14 ft 0½ in (4280 mm) in the centre. This is a clearance envelope (see Loading gauge) on a curve of 250 m (820 ft 2.5 in) radius.

Previously, international through traffic, particularly freight, had been effectively constrained to vehicles and loads consistent with the standard French loading gauge, the narrowest and lowest in Mainland Europe. As a result of accepting the convention the French embarked on a period of progressive upgrade to make their network compliant.

Even after adopting the convention, significant parts of the European network operated to larger gauges, thus limiting the passing of traffic out of such areas.

In the 1890s the Great Central Railway built its new main line to the Berne gauge, which is larger than the British loading gauge, in anticipation of a connection with a planned Channel Tunnel. Ironically, the closure of this line in 1966 restricted the movement of the Eurotunnel Class 9 locomotives which originally could not return by rail for maintenance at the Brush Traction works at Loughborough where they were built.


External links

* [ Berne and all that]
* [ EU High Speed Rail Rolling Stock Standards]

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