Triangular view of train tracks a fine art black and white photography prints available in all sizes, canvas art and for stock photography. Photo copyright: James Bo Insogna
Notwithstanding modern technical developments, the overwhelmingly dominant track form worldwide consists of flat-bottom steel rails supported on timber or pre-stressed concrete sleepers (railroad ties in the US), which are themselves laid on crushed stone ballast.
Most railroads with heavy traffic use continuously welded rails supported by sleepers (ties) attached via baseplates which spread the load. A plastic or rubber pad is usually placed between the rail and the tieplate where concrete sleepers (ties) are used.
The rail is usually held down to the sleeper (tie) with resilient fastenings, although cut spikes are widely used in North American practice. For much of the 20th century, rail track used softwood timber ties and jointed rails, and considerable extents of this track type remains on secondary and tertiary routes. The rails were typically of flat bottom section fastened to the ties with dogspikes through a flat tieplate in North America and Australia, and typically of bullhead section carried in cast iron chairs in British and Irish practice.
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