With railways, a break-of-gauge is where a line of one gauge meets a line of a different gauge. Trains and rolling stock cannot easily run through, and goods and passengers must be transhipped.
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Major breaks of gauge
Major breaks of gauge between large systems include:
- many missing links where railways between and within countries do not link up.
- rail lines links by ferries on convenient rivers or lakes.
- countless potential break-of-gauge stations where missing links to be completed.
- Queensland (1.067m) and New South Wales (1.435m)
- New South Wales (1.435m) and Victoria (1.600m)
- Southern South Australia uses broad gauge the same as Victoria. Northern South Australia had a number of narrow gauge 1.067m lines, leading to several break-of-gauge stations including Terowie, Gladstone and Port Pirie.
- In the latter part of the 20th century, all mainland capital cities were connected to a standard gauge (1.435m) network, leading to more breaks of gauge (or branchline closures) in states where this is not the norm.
- France (1.435m) and Spain (1.676m)
- Poland (1.435m) and former Soviet Union (1.524m)
- England and Europe – rail gauge the same 1.435m, but English loading gauge much smaller.
- Finland (1.524m) and Sweden (1.435m)
- The United States of America had both broad, narrow and standard gauge tracks, but is now almost entirely 1.435m. Similarly the adjacent countries of Canada and Mexico.
Minor breaks of gauge
In Austria and Switzerland there are numerous breaks-of-gauge between standard gauge main lines and narrow gauge mountain railways. The Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-Mürren in the Bernese Oberland contains a break-of-traction (but not in fact a break of gauge): it is part funicular and part adhesion railway.
Similarly, there are breaks-of-gauge in the more mountainous parts of the British Isles. These include:
Isle of Man
- Laxey – Snaefell Mountain Railway, 3' 6" (1067mm); Manx Electric Railway, 3' 0" (914mm)
- Lhen Coan – Groundle Glen Railway, 2' 0" (610mm); Manx Electric Railway, 3' 0" (914mm)
- formerly Douglas, Douglas Corporation Horse Tramway, 3' 0" (914mm); Falcon Cliff Lift, 5' 0" (1524mm)
- Aberystwyth – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Vale of Rheidol Light Railway, 1' 11½" (597mm)
- Blaenau Ffestiniog – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Ffestiniog Railway, 1' 11½" (597mm)
- Llanberis – Llanberis Lake Railway, 1' 11½" (597mm); Snowdon Mountain Railway, 2' 7½" (800mm)
- Minffordd – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Ffestiniog Railway, 1' 11½" (597mm)
- Porthmadog – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Ffestiniog Railway and Welsh Highland Railway, both 1' 11½" (597mm)
- Tywyn – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Talyllyn Railway, 2' 3" (686mm)
- Welshpool – National Rail, 4' 8½" (1435mm); Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, 2' 6" (762mm)
Also, the line between Finland and Russia has a minor break-of-gauge. Finnish rails are 1524 mm and Russian 1520 mm wide.