How Long Are Railroad Ties? A Complete Guide


Hello Readers! If you’re someone who is curious about how long railroad ties are, you’ve come to the right place. Railroad ties, also known as sleepers, are an essential component of railway tracks. They serve as a base for the rails and help to distribute the weight of trains evenly. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the length of railroad ties.

The Standard Length of Railroad Ties

The standard length of a railroad tie is 8 feet 6 inches or 2.6 meters. However, the length may vary depending on the type of railway track and the location. In some cases, shorter or longer ties may be used.

Why Are Railroad Ties 8 Feet 6 Inches Long?

The length of railroad ties is not random. It is based on the standard gauge of railway tracks, which is 4 feet 8.5 inches or 1.435 meters. The 8 feet 6 inches length of railroad ties allows for two ties to be spaced apart evenly along the track, with a rail length of 39 feet.

Types of Railroad Ties

There are several types of railroad ties, including wooden, concrete, and steel. Wooden ties are the most common and have been used for over a century. Concrete and steel ties are relatively new and have become more popular in recent years due to their durability and low maintenance.

Wooden Railroad Ties

Wooden railroad ties are made from hardwood or softwood trees. They are treated with creosote, a preservative that helps to protect the wood from decay and insects. Wooden ties have a lifespan of about 30 years.

Concrete Railroad Ties

Concrete railroad ties are made from reinforced concrete. They are more durable than wooden ties and have a lifespan of over 50 years. Concrete ties are also resistant to fire and have a lower risk of derailment.

Steel Railroad Ties

Steel railroad ties are made from steel plates and are designed to last over 100 years. They are more expensive than wooden and concrete ties but require little maintenance.

How Are Railroad Ties Installed?

Railroad ties are installed by laying them on a bed of ballast, which is a layer of crushed stone or gravel. The ballast helps to distribute the weight of the trains evenly and provides drainage. The ties are then secured to the ballast using spikes or clips.

The Importance of Railroad Tie Maintenance

Proper maintenance of railroad ties is crucial to ensure the safety and efficiency of railway tracks. Regular inspections are necessary to detect any defects or damage to the ties. Damaged ties should be replaced immediately to prevent accidents.

How Are Railroad Ties Removed?

When railroad ties are no longer usable, they are removed from the tracks. They can be recycled or disposed of in a landfill. Wooden ties are often recycled into mulch, furniture, or even new railroad ties.

The Environmental Impact of Railroad Ties

The disposal of railroad ties can have a negative impact on the environment. Creosote, the preservative used in wooden ties, is toxic and can leach into the soil and groundwater. Proper disposal methods are necessary to prevent environmental contamination.


In conclusion, the standard length of railroad ties is 8 feet 6 inches or 2.6 meters. Railroad ties come in different types, including wooden, concrete, and steel. Proper maintenance and disposal of railroad ties are crucial to ensure the safety and efficiency of railway tracks and to prevent environmental contamination.

Thanks for reading! See you in the next article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.