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Rail classification (weight)

Rail is graded by weight over a standard length. Heavier rail can support greater axle loads and higher train speeds without being damaged than lighter rail, but at a greater cost. In North America and the UK, rail is graded in pounds per yard (usually shown as pound or lb), so 130-pound rail would weigh 130 lb/yd (64.5 kg/m). The usual range is 115 to 141 lb/yd (57.0 to 69.9 kg/m). In Europe, rail is graded in kg/m and the usual range is 40 to 60 kg/m (80.6 to 121.0 lb/yd). The heaviest rail mass-produced was 155 pounds per yard (76.9 kg/m) and was rolled for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The UK is in the process of transition from the imperial to metric rating of rail.

Additional text

Ex. 8. Practice the reading of the following words and phrases.

  • Henry VIII

  • Elizabeth I

  • Greek

  • France

  • Paris

  • World War II

  • the Saxon girth

  • one ten-millionth

  • Imperial System,

  • the United Kingdom

  • human dimensions

  • the Middle Ages

  • Troyes in France

  • the standard units

  • the King of England

  • a similar process of standardization

  • the Earth, platinum-iridium alloy

  • the United States government

  • the International System of Units

  • the Palace of Westminster

  • on October 16, 1834

  • the North Pole

  • a common system of weights and measures

Imperial System is the system of weights and measures that grew up in the United Kingdom and formerly had legal force there. It grew from units chosen for the convenience of their sizes. Units of length were initially based on human dimensions and the dimensions of mass and volume on what people ate and drank. Their origins have not been properly recorded, which has led to much dispute among historians.

In the Middle Ages the basic unit of weight was the grain, based on the weight of a wheat grain, but for a long time there was no such thing as a standard universal pound weight. The pound for common goods could vary between 6,750 and 7,680 grains. Thanks to reforms put in place by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, these were reduced to two: the ordinary or avoirdupois, pound* at 7,000 grains for everyday commodities; and the troy pound* for precious stones and metals. The troy pound probably took its value and its name from a weight used in the town of Troyes in France.

The units of length and volume went through a similar process of standardization as trade expanded. Probably the earliest standard of length was the Saxon girth or gyrd. In 1101 Henry I, the King of England, decreed that this should equal the length of his arm. This was the basis of the yard, which was subdivided into 3 feet, each of 12 inches.

The basic unit of volume, the gallon, went through a similar process of refinement. In 1707 the standard wine gallon was set at 231 cubic inches. However, the ale gallon was 282 cubic inches.

In 1758 a new standard troy pound and two years later a new standard yard were constructed. These were destroyed on October 16, 1834, in the fire that burned down the Palace of Westminster. A scientific committee was set up to recreate the standard units, this time in platinum.

Metric System is the decimal system of physical units based on a unit of length known as the meter (Greek metron, “measure”). The metric system was introduced and adopted by law in France in the 1790s. Later, a majority of countries adopted the metric system as a common system of weights and measures. Scientists in all countries use the metric system in their work.

The meter (m), which is approximately 39.37 in, was originally defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole on a line running through Paris. From 1792 to 1799, French scientists measured part of this distance. Treating the Earth as a perfect sphere, they then estimated the total distance and divided it into ten-millionths. Later, after it was discovered that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, the standard meter was defined as the distance between two fine lines marked on a bar of platinum-iridium alloy. The measurements of modern science required still greater precision, however, and in 1983 the meter was defined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.

American weights and measures were based on the British system, although from 1866 the United States government permitted the metric system to be used. In Britain the metric system gradually started to take over from the imperial units after World War II. The world scientific community has adopted the International System of Units for its work.

Notes: *avoirdupois [ævədə'pɔɪz] pound - фунт британской системы массы (0,453 кг);

**troy pound - аптекарский [тройский] фунт (0,373 кг).

Ex. 9. Translate the words given in the box into English and fill in the blanks with the

appropriate word. Translate the sentences into Russian.

  • размер (величина)

  • единица измерения

  • драгоценные камни и металлы

  • делиться на

  • десятичная система

  • метрическая система

  • соответствовать (быть равным)

  • правильная окружность

  • кубический дюйм

  • приводить к чему-л. (повлечь за собой)

  1. Treating the Earth as ___ the scientists estimated the total distance and divided it into ten-millionths.

  2. Metric System is the ___ of physical units based on a unit of length.

  3. In the Middle Ages the basic ___ of weight was the grain, based on the weight of a wheat grain.

  4. The troy pound was used as a measure of weight for ___.

  5. Units of length were initially based on human ___ and the ___ of mass and volume on what people ate and drank.

  6. The ale gallon differed from the standard wine gallon and was 282 ___.

  7. A majority of countries adopted the … as a common system of weights and measures.

  8. The earliest standard of length was the Saxon girth or gyrd which was ___ the length of an arm.

  9. The standard yard was ___ 3 feet, each of 12 inches.

  10. The units of length origins have not been properly recorded, which has ___ much dispute among historians.

Ex. 10. Choose the right word and translate the sentences into Russian.

  1. A commodity/accommodation is something that is sold for money.

  2. I phoned your office to confirm that this date is convenient/convenience.

  3. Being able to pay bills over the Internet is a real convenient/convenience.

  4. The decimal/binary numeral system is most widely used by modern civilizations.

  5. A diagram represents things in only two dimensions/measures.

  6. Geometry investigates objects and the spaces around them. In its simplest form, it deals with objects in two or three dimensions/figure, such as lines, circles, cubes, and spheres.

  7. An inch/yard is an imperial unit of length, approximately equal to 2.54 centimeters.

  8. The toy train is four inches long/length.

  9. His personal riches were estimated/accounted at ₤368 million.

  10. A measurement/measure is a result, usually expressed in numbers that you obtain by measuring something.


Ex. 1. Copy and memorize the following terms.


cast-iron – чугун

end of the rail – конец рельса

heat treatment - теплообработка

heavy train - тяжеловесный поезд

to cool – охлаждать

to harden - закаливать

transverse crack - поперечная трещина

wrought-iron – кованое железо

to weigh - весить

weight - вес

to improve - улучшать, усовершенствовать

Ex. 2. Translate the nouns into Russian and memorize their meaning.

Improvement, manufacture, advance, cooling, hardening, railroading, application, century, quality, quantity, development, commodity, structure, purpose, amount, alloy, property, improvement, occasion.

Ex. 3. Translate the following sentences from English into Russian.

  1. Heat treatment is a group of industrial and metalworking processes used to alter the physical, and sometimes chemical, properties of a material. The most common application is metallurgical.

  2. The heaviest trains in the world are freight trains hauling bulk commodities such as coal and iron ore. One distinguishes between regular operations, and occasional record breaking runs.

  3. It would be ideal to have a material in which it was impossible to initiate cracks at all.

  4. An additional small amount of manganese is added to make the steel easier to harden.

  5. Thus mild steel structures, for instance, can generally put up with cracks at least a metre long without breaking.

  6. Hundreds of office buildings and homes developed large cracks in walls and ceilings.

  7. The number of lorries weighing over 10 tonnes unladen shot up by 230 percent.

  8. What is your height and weight?

  9. They also hope to renovate an old, cast-iron elevator at a cost of $ 300, 000.

  10. Cast iron’s properties are changed by adding various alloying elements.

  11. Depending on the application, carbon and silicon content in cast iron are reduced to the desired levels, which may be anywhere from 3.5% to 3%.

  12. The use of cast iron for structural purposes began in the late 1770s, when Abraham Darby III built the Iron Bridge.

  13. Before the development of effective methods of steelmaking and the availability of large quantities of steel, wrought iron was the most common form of malleable iron (ковкое железo).

  14. Cast iron, unlike wrought iron, is brittle and cannot be worked either hot or cold.

  15. Transverse cracks often developed inside rails during use.

Ex.4. Read the sentences, replacing the Russian words with their English equivalents.

  1. Кованое железо is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content, in comparison to steel.

  2. Чугун can break if struck with a hammer.

  3. Теплообработка enables to achieve a desired result such as hardening or softening of a material.

  4. The X-ray showed several трещины in the bone of her left leg.

  5. Changes will be made if the situation не улучшаться.

  6. She took the cake out of the oven and left it on the kitchen table to охлаждаться.

  7. Steel закаливать by heating it to a very high temperature.

  8. The new car body иметь вес 9.55 tonnes, and the unladen weight of the complete car proved to be 17.29 tonnes.

  9. The investigation of the accident revealed that the cause was a поперечная трещина (a critical crack which lies perpendicular to the length of the rail) in the rail.

  10. M62 was a Soviet built diesel locomotive for тяжеловесные поезда, exported to many Eastern Bloc countries as well as to Cuba, North Korea and Mongolia.

Ex. 5. Choose either -ed or -ing forms and translate the sentences into Russian.

  1. By managing natural resources more effectively, our quality of human life could be improving/improved greatly.

  2. Drivers with lorries weighing/weighed above 7.5 tonnes have to make a five mile detour around the bridge.

  3. Because cast iron is comparatively brittle, it is not suitable for purposes where a sharp edge or flexibility is requiring/required.

  4. Cast iron was first inventing/invented in China in the 4th century BC.

  5. Heat treatment involves the use of heating/heated or chilling/chilled, normally to extreme temperatures.

  6. The air conditioning doesn’t seem to be cooling/cooled the room much.

  7. Steel is hardening/hardened by heating it to a very high temperature.

  8. Many products describing/described as wrought iron, such as garden furniture and gates, are made of mild steel.

  9. The funds will go towards improving/improved road and rail services.

  10. Wrought iron is no longer producing/produced on a commercial scale.

Ex. 6. Put the verbs into the required tense form and translate the sentences.

  1. The Eiffel tower (to construct - Present Simple Passive) from wrought iron.

  2. Avoid putting your car away until the engine (to cool down - Present Perfect Active).

  3. In the west, where cast iron (not to become - Past Simple Active) available till the late 14th century, its earliest uses included cannon and shot.

  4. I (to want - Past Simple Active) to improve my French, so I (to get - Past Simple Active) a job in Paris.

  5. Vehicles over a certain weight (not to allow - Present Simple Passive) to use the bridge.

  6. Heat treatment (to use - Present Simple Passive) used in the manufacture of many other materials, such as glass.

  7. The development of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen (to provide - Past Simple Active) further market for cast iron, since cast iron (to be - Past Simple Active) considerably cheaper than the brass of which the engine cylinders were originally made. 

  8. He (to squeeze - Past Simple Active) into a crack between two rocks.

  9. Huge fans (to use - Future Simple Passive) to cool the concrete floor to keep it below 150 degrees.

Ex. 7. Use the Active Voice instead of the Passive Voice and translate the sentences.

  1. The first steel rail was produced by English manufacturers.

  2. Transverse cracks were caused by uneven cooling of the rails after their hardening.

  3. This distance is covered by train in an hour.

  4. Several cities will be connected by the high-speed railway line.

  5. The renewal of signaling equipment of all railroads will be financed by the government.

  6. The rails are joined to each other by fastenings.

  7. Continuous welded rails are used on high-speed railways now instead of standard ones.

  8. Railway track consists of two parallel rails which are supported on crossties.

  9. Regular services were stopped because of the accident.

  10. The failures could not be detected in advance by ultrasonic inspection.

Ex. 8. Use the Passive Voice instead of the Active Voice and translate the sentences.

  1. All the railways throughout the world use steel rails.

  2. Metallurgical advances in the 20th century greatly improved the quality of rail steel.

  3. Usually the producers harden rails at the ends by heat treatment.

  4. The mechanic checked the operation of the breaking system.

  5. The track gang inspects a railway track all year round.

  6. William Losh and George Stephenson improved the design of cast-iron rails to reduce breakage.

  7. Maintenance staff installed new bolts and restored regular services.

  8. Danish State Railways (DSB) have developed a gas-fired point heater.

  9. Tzar Peter the Great prohibited bridge building in St. Petersburg.

  10. The State Acceptance Committee provides the final accept.

Ex. 9. Before reading the text make sure you pronounce the following words and phrases correctly:

previously, 20 kg/m (twenty kilograms per meter), 30kg/m (thirty kilograms per meter), cast-iron rails, wrought-iron, throughout the world, metallurgical advances, transverse cracks, heavier trains, early railroading, rails weighing, 75.5 to 77 kg/m (seventy-five point five to seventy-seven kilograms per meter).

Ex. 10. Read the text and translate it, using a dictionary, if necessary.

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