WHAT ARE SLEEPERS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS IN A RAILWAY TRACK?

Sleepers

The members which are laid transverse to the rails, to support the rails and to transfer the loads from rails to the ballast, are called sleepers.

Prestressed Concrete Sleepers laid above the layer of Ballast
Prestressed Concrete Sleepers laid above the layer of Ballast

Functions of Sleepers

The main functions of sleepers in a railway track are as under:

  1. These hold the rails to proper gauge in all situations i.e. exact gauge along straight and flat curves, slightly loose on sharp curves and slightly tight in diamond curves.
  2. These support the rails tight in diamond curves.
  3. These distribute the load transmitted through rails over large area of ballast underneath or to the bridge girders.
  4. These hold the rails to proper level in turnouts, crossovers and at 1 in 20 tilt inward on straight tracks.
  5. These provide an elastic medium between the rails and ballast and absorb the vibration caused due to moving trains.
  6. These maintain proper alignment of the track. On curves proper grades are provided by raising the outer rails and tamping the required quantity of ballast below the rails.
  7. These provide general stability of the permanent track on the whole.
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