Train Rail Types Used In Japan

Gauge ( width of rail)space800-6

063-4 There are three types of rails used in Japan: 1,435mm (standard gauge), 1,435mm (standard gauge), and 1,435mm (standard gauge).
1,435mm ( standard gauge)
1, 372mm
1, 067mm
The Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation is the electric railway company that adopts all three types of gauge and owns and operates each type of car, but the gauge most commonly used in Japan is the 1,067mm adopted by Japan National Railways (now JR).
For the gauge used by Japanese railways in Japan, please refer to this page.
Standard gauge is the most common gauge overseas, but the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, Angola, Costa Rica, Estonia, and other countries have adopted 1,067mm gauge.
1,067mm rail
064-4 Transit to lines with different rail gauge
As a general rule, trains with a different gauge cannot be used on the same line, but there are some lines that have adopted a three-gauge rail system so that the bogies can be operated without any changes.
Hakone Tozan Railway: Between “Hakone-Yumoto and Iryouda” stations ( click here for details )
Keihin Electric Express Railway: Between “Tokyu Sharyo Manufacturing Premises and Jinbuji” station (click here for details )
JR Akita Shinkansen: Between “Jinguji – Mineyoshikawa” station on the Ou Main Line, etc.
All of these trains share 1,435mm and 1,067mm rolling stock on three-line gauge. The disadvantage of three-line gauge is that the center position of the train is shifted, resulting in flat wear of the rails. As an alternative, free gauge trains with variable-gauge axles are being tested for practical use.
The second rail from the left in the photo is a guard to prevent derailment.
three-line rail line

space800-6Protective rail track ( derailment prevention guard)space800-6

065-4 A wheel track is an auxiliary rail with rails or L-shaped steel between the rails to prevent derailment, and is also called a derailment prevention guard. When a train passes through a curve section, centrifugal force is generated and the wheels are forced to move toward the outside of the rails. The derailment prevention guards installed inside the rails restrain the wheels to prevent derailment. In addition, rail lubricators ( see below) are often used before entering a large curve section. In 1963, the Tsurumi accident of Japan Railways (now JR), occurred and the installation of derailment prevention guards was implemented in “double-track curves with a radius of 410m (510m for freight lines) or less” in order to prevent parallel accidents. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has obliged all railway operators in Japan to install the system on curves with a radius of 200m or less.
Protective rail track (derailment prevention guard)

space800-6long railspace800-6

012-3 Rails with a total length of 200m or more are called long rails. Long rails are used on Shinkansen bullet trains and are also used on conventional and private railway lines. Long rails have fewer joints, which makes them run more stably, reduces noise, and improves riding comfort. If the temperature of the rail is not adequately controlled, the rail will bend or stretch during the hot summer months. Also, during the extremely cold winter season, the rails can break due to contraction. If the gauge is out of alignment, safe running is not possible. To prevent these problems, expansion joints are necessary to prevent the rails from coming off even if they expand or contract. The expansion joints are made of resin insulation between the rails to ensure the insulation of signals and other devices (track circuits).
Rail expansion joint

space800-6slab trackspace800-6

076s-33 In conventional ballasted track, the ballast (crushed stone) is used for the trackbed, and the sleepers and rails are laid on top. In slab track, a solid concrete plate integrated with the sleepers is injected with mortar as a buffer material, and the rails are laid on top of it. The track is resistant to deviation. Track requires maintenance due to deviations caused by the weight and vibration of the train, but slab track reduces deviations in the track gauge and reduces maintenance work. However, compared to ballasted track, there is no impact damping between the roadbed and the rails, which causes more noise and vibration. In many cases, this problem is solved by laying ballast between the rails to reduce noise. The patent was obtained by Japan National Railways (now JR) and used in Shinkansen lines throughout Japan, but now it is also used in conventional lines and by electric railway companies throughout Japan.
slab rail

space800-6Rail Lubricatorspace800-6

013-4 014
Rail Lubricator Tank Rail Lubricator Nozzles
A rail lubricator is a device that applies oil to the inside of the outer rail to reduce excessive rail wear and noise. A fixed amount of oil is applied as the train passes. By installing this device in front of a curved rail, the oil adheres to the flange of the wheel and reduces friction between the wheel and the rail, extending the life of the wheel by 4 to 5 times and the life of the rail by 2 to 3 times. This device (above photo) is the manual adjustment type used by Odakyu Electric Railway, but there is also an electric type. The electric type rail lubricator consists of a control panel, a train detection device and an extraction device, and a fully automatic mixing device is installed in the main tank to prevent grease separation and ensure stable lubrication. There is also a method in which a lubricator is installed in the train.
The upper left photo shows the oil tank and the right photo shows the nozzle attached to the rail.

space800-6 space800-6Divider ( Point)space800-6

021s-42 026s-36 034s-25 027s-37
single door turnout one-way crossing three-line turnout Crossing junction with double-crossing
A turnout is a device that changes the direction of train entry into a stationary and anti-stationary position. It is also called a point.
The localization is the direction for the main line, and the counter-direction is the direction for the sub-main line.
The picture (1) shows a turnout switched to the anti-position (branch side). The others are in the localized direction.
The three-line gauge turnout shown in Photo (3) is a turnout used on a three-line gauge where cars with different rail widths share a turnout.
It is installed between the Hakone Tozan Railway’s Hakone-Yumoto and Iryouda stations and the Keihin Electric Express Railway’s Tokyu Sharyo Manufacturing premises, Kanazawa-Hakkei and Jinbuji stations.
There is a number for the degree of opening with the branch line, and when there is an opening of 1m on the opposite side when the reference line is advanced 12m toward the branch stationary direction, it is called the 12th turnout ( integer). 38 turnout at Narita Yukawa Station on the Keisei Narita Sky Access Line has the fastest passing speed in Japan at 160km/h.

space800-6switch (of a railroad)space800-6

022s-32 033s-32 The device that operates the turnout is called a turnout device. The electric turnout is operated by a motor and remotely controlled by an electric signal, and the status of the route is displayed on the signal. In winter, the electric turnout may not work due to freezing, and an electric heater (snow-melting machine) is used to solve this problem. Manual turnouts ( Photo 2) may be used to manually switch the signals on the station’s detention lines, etc. Signs or indicator lights are installed to show the condition of the track.
electric ruther manual ruther

space800-6Safety sidings and overtaking turnoutsspace800-6

036s-35 037s-29 038s-24 044s-40
safety line safety lane warning lights crossing junction Safety Side Line Class 1 Vehicle Stops
Safety sideline
Safety s idelines are often installed on the waiting line at stations that wait for a superior train to pass on a double-track section. While waiting for the train to clear, the turnout opens on the safety side of the line and does not allow the train to enter the main line. In some cases, turnouts are installed to avoid head-on collisions when trains are crossing (exchanging) on single-track sections.


Overpass turnout
A turnout on the safety track is called an overtaking turnout. When a train enters the safety track, the wheels of the train directly cross the reference line. When a train passes the reference line side, it can pass smoothly because there is no flangeway, but when a train enters the safety line side, the vertical movement of the train becomes large.
035s-23 The Tokyu Setagaya Line uses spring points at both end stations . The train from the opposite side passes through by pushing the tongue rail by the wheels, and after passing through, it automatically returns to the stationary position by the spring. In the photo left, 302 train is coming from Shimotakaido direction in Sangenjaya station, but the branch is facing the opposite direction. After this, the wheels push the tongue rail at the speed limit of 10Km/h and enter the platform. After the train passes the turnout, it returns to the state shown in the photo and prepares for departure for Shimotakaido Station. The rutted rail is installed on the track line where there is no high-speed train passing.

space800-6 space800-6Buffer stopspace800-6

041s-34 043s-38 045s-44 042s-43
Made by RAWIER Made by Nippon Sharyo Class 1 vehicle stop Type 2 vehicle stop


A buffer stop is a structure used to forcibly stop a train that has overrun its stopping position. Class 1 buffer stops are made of gravel covering the track, Class 2 buffer stops are made of rails and other steel materials assembled into a turret shape, Class 3 buffer stops are made of rails bent into an inverted U shape to serve as a buffer stop, and Class 4 buffer stops are made of concrete blocks placed at the edge of the track. The carstops with hydraulic shock absorbers shown in photos (1) and (2) are very effective when a train overtravels its stopping position at a terminus station or the like. They require little land area for installation and are strong, safe, and reliable. RAWIE, the manufacturer of photo (1), is a German railway equipment company founded in 1882. It is officially adopted by 21 organizations in 41 countries around the world, and is used by Odakyu Electric Railway, Seibu Railway, Keihin Electric Express, and Nagano Electric Railway in Japan.
The photos (1) and (2) show a car stop installed at Odakyu Shinjuku Station.