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Steel sleepers

Historically, steel ties (sleepers) have suffered from poor design and increased traffic loads over their normally long service life. These aged and often obsolete designs limited load and speed capacity. However, steel ties can be found in many locations globally; they perform adequately despite decades of service. There are great numbers of steel ties with over 50 years of service and in some cases they can and have been rehabilitated and continue to perform well. Steel ties were also used in specific situations, such as the Hejaz Railway in the Arabian Peninsula, which had an ongoing problem with Bedouins who would steal wooden ties for campfires.

Modern day steel ties, particularly in North America (where track loads are greater than in other continents) are not the steel ties of old. Newer steel ties handle heavy loads and adverse track conditions. Of high importance to railroad companies is the fact that steel ties are more economical to install in new construction than creosote-treated wood ties and concrete ties. Steel ties are 100% recyclable and require up to 60% less ballast than concrete ties and up to 45% less than wood ties.

Steel ties are utilized in nearly all sectors of the worldwide railroad systems including heavy-haul, regional, shortlines, mining, electrified passenger lines and all manner of industries.

Notably, steel ties have proven themselves over the last few decades to be advantageous in turnouts (switches) and provide the solution to the ever-growing problem of long timber ties for such use.

The steel ties’ economic efficiency as well as their ability to hold rail gauge lower long-term maintenance costs, increase the life of other track components, reduce derailments and meet ever growing and stricter environmental standards. These advantages enabled railroad companies to redirect funds to other and business projects.

Ex. 8. Match the English terms in column A with their Russian equivalents in column B.



  1. low and average gross-load intensity

  1. электрическое сопротивление стыкового соединения

  1. heavy axle loads

  1. низкая и средняя грузонапряженность

  1. resilient rail fasteners

  1. экономические выгоды

  1. economic benefits

  1. крепежные элементы

  1. (signal) track circuit

  1. высокие осевые нагрузки

  1. plate and riffle sleepers

  1. выработать свой ресурс

  1. connection clip

  1. упругие рельсовые скрепления

  1. fixturing components

  1. плоские и ребристые шпалы

  1. bond resistance

  1. прижимная скоба

  1. to be overage

  1. рельсовые цепи

Ex. 9. The phrases given above may be useful to translate the following sentences.

  1. В последние время стальные шпалы на железных дорогах Австралии используются в основном на линиях средней и низкой грузонапряженности, а также на некоторых линиях, работающих в условиях высоких осевых нагрузок.

  2. В середине 1970-х годов появились шпалы новых конструкций, упругие рельсовые скрепления и электрическая изоляция рельсов для применения в пути с рельсовыми цепями.

  3. В настоящее время стальные шпалы применяются для замены деревянных, обеспечивая экономические выгоды, характеристики и срок службы.

  4. В Австралии используются плоские и ребристые шпалы. В комплекте с такими шпалами применяются фирменные рельсовые скрепления, как изолированные, так и неизолированные. Главными элементами скрепления являются прижимная скоба, а также фигурная пластина из пластичной стали.

  5. Изоляция рельса в скреплении обеспечивается двумя прокладками, обладающими высоким электрическим сопротивлением и хорошими механическими характеристиками. Крепежные элементы выпускаются разных размеров, что позволяет применять скрепления с рельсами разных типов, а также укладывать рельсы другого типа при ремонте пути или увеличивать ширину колеи в кривых.

  6. Экономическая эффективность использования стальных шпал заключается в сокращении затрат на текущее содержание и ремонт пути. Стальные шпалы заменяют старые деревянные шпалы, которые выработали свой ресурс.



Ex. 1. Copy and memorize the following terms.


axle - ось

curvature of the tracks - кривизна пути

edge of the rail - кромка рельса

handling - погрузочно-разгрузочные операции

junction - железнодорожный узел

permissible - допустимый

the top of the rail head - вершина головки рельса

to accommodate the load - воспринимать нагрузку

tramroad - рельсовый путь (для трамвая, вагонетки и т.п.)

Ex.2. Translate the following sentences into Russian.

  1. An axle is the bar connecting two wheels on a car or other vehicle.

  2. We all know that the curvature of railroad tracks is measured by its radius, right?

  3. Most escalators in rail stations have bright contrasting paint at the edge of each step to assist people with low vision.

  4. This dangerous junction could soon be closed to motorists after a series of accidents.

  5. Strict environmental standards are being introduced to reduce permissible levels of air pollution.

  6. During the 1970s, BHP’s Whyalla plant (India) developed technology to manufacture steel rails hardened on the top to overcome wear and tear. The top of the rail is heated to 900 degrees and then quickly cooled, creating a finer structure of crystals in the steel at the top of the rail than in the base (основание).

  7. The Nissan Primastar is a stylish medium sized van offering a great combination of refinement (изящество) with practicality. It is available in two lengths and two heights allowing you to accommodate loads up to 2.8 meters long.

  8. A tramroad is a roadway for trams consisting of parallel tracks made of usually metal-faced wooden beams, stone blocks, metal plates, or rails.

  9. A batch (партия) of 15 will be delivered to the West Siberian Railway to replace the eight-axle VL80 freight locos that can haul 7 000 ton freight trains but which have been used for passenger traffic because no other locomotives were available.

  10. When engineers design train tracks, they need to guarantee the curvature of the track will be safe and provide a comfortable ride for the given speed of the trains.

  11. Flashing lights at the edge of the platforms alert passengers that a train is approaching.

  12. It is necessary to install cameras at dangerous road junctions to film those who drive through red traffic lights.

  13. The upper permissible speed limits on motorways in the countries of the European Union are: the UK - 96 mph, Germany - 80mph, Spain - 90 mph, etc.

  14. Warehouses must be designed to accommodate the loads of the materials to be stored.

  15. A tramroad is a road prepared for easy transit of wagons; smooth beams of wood, blocks of stone, or plates of iron are used to build a tramroad.

Ex. 3. Match the English terms in column A with their Russian equivalents in column B.



  1. dual gauge

  1. на протяжении 19-го века

  1. throughout the 19th century

  1. участок дороги

  1. arguments in favor of …

  1. двойная колея

  1. the price of railroad stocks

  1. руководство

  1. authorities

  1. соседние страны

  1. neighboring countries

  1. цена акций железной дороги

  1. stretch of the track

  1. доводы в пользу …

Ex.4. Translate the following sentences into Russian.

  1. A dual-gauge railway has railway track that allows trains of different gauges to use the same track.

  2. We are open every weekend throughout the year.

  3. I asked the students to give me their best arguments in favor of learning foreign languages, and these are the results.

  4. Regardless (независимо) of how railroads perform in the short-term, railroad stocks are great for long-term investment. 

  5. Railroad authorities are now offering a reward for information leading to an arrest of a person who has damaged the track switch.

  6. Considerable concern focused on the effect the hurricane would have on neighboring countries.

  7. The accidents (with elephants) usually occur over a distance of 20 km on the Kerala stretch of the track up to Walayar. Elephants that see trains approaching them while on this stretch cannot return to the forest, and are forced to run along the track itself, with disastrous consequences.

  8. Generally, a dual-gauge railway consists of three rails, rather than the standard two rails.

  9. Stories of love and adventure were popular throughout the Middle Ages.

  10. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had argued in parliament in favor of a constitutional reform government.

  11. Railroad stocks are closely tied to the overall economy. During the financial crisis they suffered considerable drops in revenue (доход).

Ex. 5. Copy and memorize the following words and phrases.

    • measurement - измерение; единица измерения

    • to inherit - наследовать; унаследовать; быть, стать наследником

    • lack - недостаток, отсутствие

    • compatible - совместимый; сочетаемый

Translate the following sentences into Russian.

  1. There are two main sources of measurement error which reduce reliability.

  2. Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 give a good overview of the measurement techniques available today.

  3. She had her father’s pale blue eyes but her long black hair and honey complexion had been inherited from her mother.

  4. Communications difficulties caused a complete lack of coordination of efforts.

  5. The bi-monthly scholarly journal, founded in Los Angeles in 1973, suspended (приостановил) publication in 1978 due to lack of funds.

  1. Unfortunately he bought a printer that was not compatible with his computer.

Ex.6.Translate the sentences paying attention to the construction under+noun.

  1. I wish I’d met him under different circumstances.

  2. The system operates well under normal conditions.

  3. Under the terms of the agreement, the debt will be repaid over a 20-year period.

  4. By daylight the fire was almost under control.

  5. I’m glad to see that you have everything under control.

  6. The possibility of employing more staff is still under discussion.

  7. Four new power stations are currently under construction.

  8. Some of the changes under discussion had already been implemented elsewhere.

  9. The operation was carried out while she was under general anesthetics.

  10. If you have comment on the project currently under consideration, you may transmit those comments to administration by sending a message to the following e-mail address…

Ex. 7. Read the text and translate it into Russian, using a dictionary if necessary.


The gauge of track is the distance between the inner edges of the rails at points 1.590 mm below the top of the heads. In the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and much of continental Europe, the standard gauge is 1435 mm. Why this measurement became the standard is a matter of speculation*. Probably the tradition is inherited from early tramroads built to accommodate wagons with axles 1.500 mm long.

Throughout most of the 19th century many railroad companies each built track with a different gauge; some gauges were wider than 1435 mm and some narrower. About 1870 many railroads began to adopt a narrower gauge, usually 900 mm. The arguments in favor of this gauge were that lighter rails could be used, and a sharper curvature of the tracks was permissible. In 1871, 1,476 km of narrow-gauge track was under construction in the USA.

After the so-called railroad panic of 1873, in which the price of railroad stocks fell sharply, railroad construction of all sorts slowed down. Some authorities maintain that the panic accelerated the use of narrow-gauge tracks in the construction that did take place because it was more economical. Freight shipped over long distances, however, had to be transported from one freight car to another whenever it reached a junction where the rail gauge changed. The excessive cost of handling at junctions between different roads led to the adoption of the standard gauge by almost all U.S. railroads by about 1886.

Several countries use standard gauge for their railroads, but many use wider or narrower gauges. The lack of standardized rail gauge creates problems for international passengers wishing to travel through several countries. If the tracks of neighboring countries are incompatible, passengers have to change trains at border crossings before continuing on their journey.

During the early days of rail, there was considerable variation in the gauge used by different systems. Today, 60% of the world’s railways use a gauge of 1,435 mm, known as standard or international gauge. Gauges wider than standard gauge are called broad gauge; narrower, narrow gauge. Some stretches of track are dual gauge, with three or four parallel rails in place of the usual two, to allow trains of two different gauges to use the same track.

Gauge can safely vary over a range. For example, U.S. federal safety standards allow standard gauge to vary from 1,422 mm to 1,460 mm for operation up to 96.6 km/h.

Note: *a matter of speculation – спорный вопрос.

Ex. 8. Translate the following phrases into Russian. Make up your own sentences using these phrases. Do it in written form.

Much of continental Europe; to adopt a narrower gauge; the so-called railroad panic of 1873; railroad construction of all sorts slowed down; some authorities; to accelerate the use of narrow-gauge tracks; during the early days of rail.


Ex. 9. Mark the difference between the following words:

  • interest - a feeling of wanting to know about or take part in something;

  • concern - a feeling of worry about something important.

Translate the following sentences into Russian.

  1. There is growing concern about violence on television.

  2. My mother had never expressed any interest in the garden.

  3. There is widespread concern that new houses will be built on protected land.

  4. If children are missing school then that is the parents' concern.

  5. Eighteen percent of people said unemployment was their main concern.

  6. He has a particular interest in Italian art.

  7. In retirement, Nelson added personal computing to his interests.

  8. Stress at work is a matter of concern to staff and management.

  9. Josie isn't really an archaeologist; it’s just an interest of hers.

  10. Many people have voiced concern over the proposed changes in the law.

  11. I’d recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in jazz.

  12. Most degree courses allow students to include subjects of special interest to them.

Ex. 10. Fill in the blanks with either ‘interest’ or ‘concern’. Translate the sentences.

  1. Doctors said her condition was causing ___.

  1. I watched the first few episodes, but soon lost ___.

  1. They shared a common ___ in botany.

  2. There is growing ___ about the safety of mobile phones.

  3. Her ___ were the same as most young girls - pop music, boys and clothes.

  4. My parents encouraged my ___ in science.

  5. She hasn’t been seen for four days and there is ___ for her safety.

  6. Ben has shown a/an ___ in learning French.

  7. These documents are of particular ___.

  8. His private life is no ___ of ours.

  9. I read your article with great ___.

  10. The President’s health was giving serious cause for ___.

Ex. 11. Read the text and translate it into Russian, using a dictionary if necessary.

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