New vs Relay

NARP supplies a variety of new and relay rail across North America. You may be wondering, what’s the difference?

The difference between new and relay rail is that new rail hasn’t been placed on a track before. Any time you take a piece of new rail out of the track to put it elsewhere, that piece of rail is now considered relay. On high volume main line routes, the specifications of the rail must be kept within certain parameters. Rail inspections done on these high-volume routes look for any flaws in the steel or wear and tear, if they are out of the parameters due to wear and tear then that piece must be replaced with a new one.

Now, the life of that piece of rail that is being replaced doesn’t end there. Just because the rail has been worn beyond the allowable parameters of the high-volume main line doesn’t mean it is inadmissible in other classes of service.

A good flow progression for the life of a piece of rail would follow as so;

(New Rail) Heavy Duty Main Line -> (Relay) Secondary Route Main Line -> (Relay) Sidings/Yard Track -> Scrap.

There are 4 classifications of relay rail; I, II, III, and IV. For the rail to qualify for a certain class, the rail must be inspected to see how much wear (from new) it has. For example, a 115lb piece of Class I rail can have a maximum of 1/8” wear on the top and 3/8” wear on the gage, whereas a 115lb piece of Class IV rail can have a maximum of ½” wear on the top and 7/8” wear on the gage. Depending on what kind of circumstance you find yourself in will dictate what kind of rail you should be using in that section. If you are using slow, heavy traffic in a scrap yard for example then class II or class III might be your best option, whereas if you’re replacing a Secondary Route Main Line, you will want to be looking for Class I options. Keep in mind, curves on all routes will need to be replaced more than long straight sections as the weight of the cars pushes more on one rail than the other while making the turn.

So, if you’re looking to purchase New or Relay rail take a look at the project ahead of you and think of the following questions to narrow down your search;

  • How much weight is going to be on the tracks?
  • What kind of rail needs to be replaced?
  • Do the train cars have to make many turns?
  • How fast are the train cars going on the track?
  • Is it a Heavy Duty, or Secondary Main Line?
  • Is it just for a siding/yard?

Whether you’re building a brand new Heavy Duty Main Line or just replacing pieces in your siding or yard NARP can give you a helping hand.