HP-030        Reviewed 29th March 2019

HP-030 Rail Infrastructure Standards 29th March 2019

Maintenance work, inspection and testing of track on the OTHR is undertaken in accordance with original NSW Pioneer Line standards (Class 5) to which the Oberon-Tarana line was built in 1923.

A ‘Pioneer Line’ means that no ballast was used in it’s construction and the track was laid with 60lb rail.

The OTHR track is inspected and certified as fit for purpose by an appropriately qualified and competent person. Where the inspection uncovers matters needing attention or restrictions are imposed on operations (such as speed or axle load), OTHR complies with the conditions of the restriction and considers whether an upgrade is required to meet normal operating parameters. When an upgrade is carried out, the track is re-inspected and, where appropriate the conditions on operations amended.

Post-certification track inspection is the responsibility of the Track Manager who conducts or arranges for regular track inspections at intervals of no greater than twelve months while the track is in regular use, together with track inspection patrols performed by the track manager or his designated representatives at the start of each operating day.

Regular operational maintenance is carried out at least monthly while the track is in regular use to make sure all moving parts, such as point blades and levers, are appropriately lubricated and functioning in a correct and safe manner. Unscheduled maintenance is carried out on a needs basis as determined by inspection and to maintain the track to the standard (or better) set out for the original construction NSW Railways Pioneer Lines.

At the completion of a track inspection if repairs are needed a work order is to be raised, prioritised and action taken taken to fix.

Source: “Pioneer Railways in NSW” by JW Roberts B.E. 1897

The track and associated infrastructure will be maintained to the following standards:

a) Formation

  • Formation shall be evenly graded without obvious dips or humps
  • Maximum gradient shall be 1:25 (compensated)
  • Minimum curve radius shall be 5 chain

b) Sleepers

Sleepers on the Oberon-Tarana line are timber, are used to support the rail and are laid transverse to the rail. Weight is transferred from the rails to the sleeper and onto the ballast. By anchoring the rails to the sleepers via “dog spikes” they restrain movement and hold the correct gauge and geometry of the track

  • Sleepers are hardwood timber placed with the heartwood face down.
  • Maximum spacing of sleepers shall be 600mm centres
  • Sleepers must be laid at right angles to the rail centre line.
  • Every one in four sleepers must be capable of holding gauge.
  • Sleeper should be in a condition that allows the sleeper and fastenings combined to effectively support the rails.
  • Sleepers must not be split, cracked or broken.
  • There must be at least 400mm from rail flange to sleeper ends.

c) Rail

  • Rail shall be of Australian Standard Pattern involving:
  • 60lb/yd or greater on ancillary lines
  • 80lb/yd on running line and loops
  • 80lb/yd on level crossings
  • Rail must be free of visible cracks or breaks

d) Gauge

  • Rails shall be laid at a minimum of 1,435 mm running face to running face. (=/- 15mm).

e) Top and Line

  • Top – Track top is to be kept even. Trains are not permitted to travel over the track which has a ‘twist’ (i.e. vertical alignment is not the same on each rail.)
  • Line – All straight track is to be kept in straight alignment with transitions into curves. Curves must be even in appearance avoiding rapid changing in radius.

f) Rail Joints

Rail joints are a weak point of the track componentry. Common faults include twists or bad top, up and down movement (pumping), bent or brken fish bolts, cracked plates or frozen ends.

  • Fish bolts checked for correct tension
  • Single or Double shoulder sleeper plates are used on the Oberon line. A minimum 4 bolts must be in place in each joint.
  • Fish plates must not be cracked or broken.
  • Transition plates are used to join sections of rail of different size and height.
  • The inside running face and top must be correctly aligned to ensure smooth running of rolling stock wheels. This is particularly important at joints transitioning between varying rail sizes.
  • Rail joints depending on types of fish plates will be either supported or suspended

g) Dog Spikes

  • Dog spikes should be square to rail foot or flange
  • Hole size is 19mm

h) h.1 Points/Turnouts

  • When checking operation of points and switches, workers must be directed to keep clear of moving parts
  • All components (blades, stock rails, v-crossings, frogs, check rails, sleepers, fastenings, throw arms etc) are to be regularly inspected for correct operation, signs of wear, vertical and horizontal alignment and correct gauge. In particular timbers must be carefully examined to check they are effective and holding rail to gauge.
  • Points are to be lubricated with oil or SPS (switch point spray), and kept clean
  • Points must fit up against the stock rail

    h.2 Switches

  • When checking operation of points and switches, workers must be directed to keep clear of moving parts.
  • Must fit very closely and securely against the stock rail and be free of debris.
  • Operation must be checked regularly  and lubricated with oil or SPS every 2 weeks (more frequently in wet weather)
  • Clearance for the switch blade must be be checked regularly.
  • Check for cracked or broken chairs
  • Check tension of bolts in heel block

i) Ballast

  • The OTHR branch line is a ‘pioneer’ line and so an earth ballast is used which is 9′ wide and has a 12′ radius curve.
  • The earth should be firmly packed under the sleeper at least 200mm each side of the rail, and a little loose in the centre. (Packed too firmly in the centre and there is a tendency to rock causing movement of traffic. Too firmly under the ends and loose under the rail then traffic will cause the sleeper to wear or break under the rail.)
  • Ballast must not be placed over the top of sleepers as this will prevent the ability to view the sleeper condition along with fasteners. Ballast over the top sleepers will not allow sleepers to dry out after rain and will hinder drainage.

j) Loading Gauge

  • The loading gauge utilised shall be minimum of 2.5m from the centreline of the rail.

k) Bridges and Culverts

  • No bridges are installed on the operation track section between Oberon and Hazelgrove.
  • Cattle Stops and Culverts are to be clear and free of debris and mud and the timbers are to be structurally sound.

l) Road Crossings

  • Road crossings are being built to Railcorp Standards for the type of line used, in consultation with the local Council engineering authorities.
  • There is to be clear approach visibility and approved level crossing warning signs must be erected on running days.
  • Flange way must be kept clear of debris.

m) Vegetation Control

  • The main focus of vegetation control is to reduce the fire hazard along the line.
  • Grass and weeds will be controlled by slashing, spray or mowing to minimise the risk of grass fire.
  • Shrubs, trees of bushes will be trimmed or removed (after consultation with council) to maintain visibility at level crossings as well as not touching rolling stock
  • Declared weeds shall be removed wherever practical.
  • Vegetation on 4 foot – rotting vegetation shortens sleeper life, cause wheel slip on rolling stock

n) Camber on Curves

  • Camber is generally not required on this low speed operation. However under no circumstances is the inside rail on curves to be higher than the outside rail (negative cant).

o) Other Infrastructure (Fencing and Platforms)

  • Fencing and Platforms must be in sound, stable and safe condition free of potential trip or other injury hazards.


  • CRN CP206 Rail Standard   (John Holland class 5 Rail Specifications)

OTHR will follow the John Holland Rail Specifications where they can be met. If they cannot be met an engineering solution will be found and an exemption will be documented and authorised by our Track Inspector.

OTHR Associated Documents:

F-040 Turnout certification Checklist 15072015


Last updated: March 29, 2019 at 2:22 am