Railway Engineering Interview Questions and Answers

The first railway line in India became functional in 1853. The first train have one steam engine and four coaches, made its maiden trip on 16th April 1853, when it traversed a 34 km stretch between Bombay (now Mumbai) and thane in 1.25 hours.

The first public railway in the world was opened to traffic on 27 September 1825 between Stockton and Darlington in the UK.

Two modes of land transport are roadways and railways.

  • It helps integrate fragmented markets and thereby stimulates the emergence of modern market economy.
  • It connects the industrial production centres with markets as well as sources of raw material and thereby facilitates industrial development.
  • Railways links agricultural production centres with distant markets as well as sources of essential inputs, thereby promoting rapid agricultural growth.
  • It provides rapid, reliable and cost-effective bulk transportation to the energy sector, for example, to move coal from the coalfield to power plants and petroleum products from refineries to consumption centres.
  • It links people with places, enabling large-scale, rapid, and low-cost movement of people across the length and breadth of the country.
  • In the process, Indian Railways has become a symbol of national integration and a strategic instrument for enhancing our defence preparedness.

The responsibility of the administration and management of Indian Railways rests with the Railway Board under the overall supervision of the Minister for Railways. The Railway Board exercises all the powers of the Central Government in respect of the regulation, construction, maintenance, and operation of the Railways.

Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) functions as a technical adviser and consultant to the Railway Board, the zonal railways, and production units as well as to public and private sector undertakings with respect to the designs and standardization of railway equipment. RDSO has also been approved for its quality management system IS0 9001:2000. (RDSO) is headquartered at Lucknow. The Director general, RDSO heads a team of specialists from different fields of railways.

The central organization for modernization of workshops (COFMOW) was set up in 1979 as a specialized agency to implement the various workshop modernization programmes of Indian Railways. Most of the workshops of Indian Railways are over 100 years old and COFMOW is in a planned way carrying out the modernization of these workshops with the assistance of World Bank. COFMOW is now the designated organization of Indian Railways for the selection, procurement, and induction of modern workshop technologies and new machinery and plant (M&P).

The principal functions of the Commission of Railway Safety are as follows:

  • Inspection of new railway lines prior to authorization for passenger traffic.
  • Periodical inspection of open lines.
  • Approval of new works and renewals affecting passenger carrying lines.
  • Investigations into accidents, including inquiries into such accidents of passenger trains as are considered to be of a serious nature.
  • General advice on matters concerning safety of train operation.
  • Statutory powers under Sections 4,5, and 6 of Indian Railway Act to inspect the railway systems, conduct inquiries, causes of accidents, and sanction execution of all works affecting the safety of the running line.

The following are the strengths of the Indian Railways.

  • For a vast country with long distances and a large population, the Railways has an inherent advantage over other modes of transport in its suitability for movement of large volumes of passenger and goods traffic over long distances.
  • The movement of steel wheels on steel rails in the railway system has the basic advantage of low rolling resistance, which reduces energy requirements and haulage costs.
  • Rail transport is more efficient than road transport in terms of land use.
  • Railways is an energy-efficient mode of transport, particularly for freight traffic, and can use different forms of energy. It also causes relatively less environmental pollution than road transport.
  • In densely populated urban centres, a rapid transit rail-based system is the most appropriate mode of transport for suburban intra-urban travel, as part of a city’s integrated transport system.
  • Indian Railways is a well-established organization with a large pool of skilled and trained personnel.
  • Being part of the Central Government, Indian Railways has the government’s financial backing. At the same time, it has considerable financial autonomy.
  • Indian Railways is a self-reliant system with respect to its major equipment needs.

The following are the weaknesses of the Indian Railways system.

  • A large portion of the Railways infrastructure is overaged, and in urgent need of replacement or rehabilitation. This includes track, motive power and rolling stock, signalling, operational, and maintenance equipment.
  • In certain parts of the infrastructure, the technology lags by 20-25 years behind some of the developed railway systems. Consequently, the productivity levels are comparatively low.
  • Indian Railways has a large force of unskilled manpower. The training facilities need augmentation and modernization.
  • A persistent resource constraint in the past has adversely affected the Railways’ development.
  • Indian Railways carries a substantial ‘social burden’ in the form of continued operation of un-remunerative branch lines, subsidies on passenger and suburban travel, and even freight subsidy on certain commodities.
  • In certain areas, pilferage and vandalism seriously affect operational efficiency.
  • The Railways is not suited for carriage of small quantities of freight particularly over short distances.
  • Heavy investments are needed to build up railway transport capacity and the gestation periods are long.
  • Transport capacity is volatile and cannot be recouped if not utilized continuously.

Railway track is a combination of rails, fitted on sleepers and resting on ballast and subgrade. Essential function of railway track is to support and guide the vehicles that run over it. The conventional railway track consists of two rails located at fixed distance apart. The pressure exerted over by the rails is in turn transmitted to the formation with the help of sleepers and ballast. Railway track is also known as permanent way.

Following are the basic requirements of an ideal permanent way:

  • The gauge should be uniform and correct.
  • Both the rails should be at the same level in a straight track.
  • On curves, proper super-elevation should be provided to the outer rail.
  • Track should have enough lateral strength.
  • Track must have certain amount of elasticity
  • All joints, points and crossings should be properly designed.
  • Drainage system should be perfect etc.

The gauges of a railway track is the clear distance between the running or gauge faces of the two rails. These running faces are the inner faces of the rails in India.

Broad Gauge (BG)                           –              1.676 m

Metre Gauge (MG)                         –              1.0 m

Narrow Gauge (NG)                        –              0.762 m

Feeder track Gauge (LG)                 –              0.610 m (Light Gauge)

The tread or rim of railway vehicles are not made flat but are sloped and this sloping aurface along the circumference forms part of a cone with a slope of about 1 in 20. This is known as coning of wheels.

  • On curved track, outer wheel has to travel greater length than the inner wheel. Vehicle on the curve has the tendency to moves sideways towards the outer rail, so the circumference of the tread on the outer rail towards inner edge of the wheel becomes greater than that on the inner rail. This helps outer rail to cover a greater distance than the inner rail.
  • Coning of wheels reduce the wear and tear of the wheel flanges and rails, which is due to rubbing action of flanges with inside faces of the rail head.
  • Because of coning of wheel, train keeps in central position in a level track.
  • It provides possibility of lateral movement of axle with its wheels.
  • It prevents the wheels from slipping to some extent.
  • The pressure of the horizontal component of the force near the inner edge of the rail has a tendency to wear the rail quickly.
  • The horizontal component of the force tends to turn the rail outwards and hence the gauge is widened sometimes.
  • If no base plates are provided, sleepers under outer edge of the rail may get damaged.

In order to minimize the disadvantages due to coning of wheels, canting of rails is done which means that rails are not laid flat but are tilted inwards. This reduces wear on the rail as well as on the tread of the wheel. The slope of the base plate is 1 in 20 which is also the slope of the wheel flange.

Sleepers are members generally laid transverse to the rails on which the rails are supported.

Main functions of sleepers are:

  • It holds the rail to correct gauge and alignment.
  • It provides firms and even support to the rails
  • It transfers the load in a uniform way from rails to area of ballast.
  • It acts as an elastic medium between rails and the ballast to absorb the blows and vibrations of moving load.
  • It provides longitudinal and lateral stability to the permanent way.

Sleeper density is the number of sleepers per unit length. It is specified as N+x or M+x. Where N or M is the length of rails in metre or yards and x is number varying according to axle load and speed, types of rails, sleepers and ballast, ballast cushion, nature of formation etc.

Ballast is the granular material usually broken stone or brick, shingle or kankar, gravel or sand placed and packed below and around the sleepers to tranmit load from the wheels of the train or sleepers, to formation and at the same time allowing drainage of the track.

Points, crossing and turnouts are the arrangements to divert train from one route to another.

  • Long life cycles and practically no maintenance.
  • Stability, precision and ride comfort.
  • Irregular settlement ids less when compare to ballast tracks.
  • Dust free and low structural height
  • Increased service life
  • High lateral track resistance which allow future speed.

Japan introduced bullet trains. Speed of bullet trains are approximately 210 km/h.

The diamond quadrilateral in a project of the Indian railways to establish high speed rail network in India connecting four metro cities in India i.e., (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata).

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