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What Are The Components Of Rail Fastening System?

SINCHOLD Port Engineering Co.,Ltd | Updated: May 31, 2017

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Rail fastening system is a set of railway track parts that is designed to fix steel rail and railroad tie. Rail fastening system is also known as the connection parts. Rail fastening system not only keep rail in gauge, but prevent rail from lateral movement. For different applications, there are many types of rail fastening system, such as E-type, SKL-type, Nabla, KPO-type, fast clip fastening system and so on.

What are the components of rail fastening system? Every kind of rail fastening system has its own components. For example, E-type fastening system is made up of E-clip, shoulder, rail pad and insulator. Nabla rail fasting is consists of Nabla clip, insulator, screw spike and spring washer. Here is the list of common components that are used in the rail fastening system.

Rail clip

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Rail clip is a vital rail fastener, which plays a role in fastening steel rail to the railway sleeper. Functions of rail clip as follow:

  • Rail clip produce clamping force and pass it to the rail track.

  • Rail clip keep the reliable connection between two rails.

  • Rail clip keep the integrity of railroad track as much as possible.

  • Rail clip can absorb the shock produced by locomotive.

Rail clip has many types like E-type, SKL, KPO, Nabla, etc. In general, rail fastening system is used to name after the included rail clip, such as E-type rail fastening system, SKL rail fastening system, KPO rail fastening system, and etc.

Tie plate

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Tie plate, also called base plate or sole plate, is placed between steel rail and railroad tie. Normally, it was fixed to the sleeper by railroad spikes or rail bolts through holes in the tie plate. Tie plate is used to spread the load and hold the rail in gauge.

Based on the number of shoulder, tie plate can be divided into two types: single-shoulder and double shoulder tie plate. In comparison, double shoulder tie plate has more application now. Tie plate can be applied in many types of rail fastening system, including KPO rail fastening system, dog spike fastening system and WJ-type fastening system.

Dog spike and screw spike

Dog spike and screw spike are two typical railroad spike types. They are both used to fasten rail to railway sleeper. What’s more, railroad spike help to maintain gauge and keep the rail safety with other railroad fasteners.

Dog spike

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At first, dog spike was used to fasten wooden sleepers. Dog spike has square rod and pointed head, and it got the name from two lugs on either sides. Common dog spike sizes include 5/8”*6”, 3/8''*3-1/2 '' and the 9/16”*5-1/2”, etc. dog spike is mainly applied to the dog spike fastening system.

Screw spike

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Screw spike has two normal applications: fix tie plate or fasten rail. Screw spike has several types, which is different with dog spike. For the specific requirements, the common screw spike include Ss series Sleeper Screw, Square head screw spike, Hexagon screw spike and Double-head screw spike. Screw spike is mostly applied to SKL, KPO, and Nabla rail fastening system.

Rail pad

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Rail pad is a mat between rail and railway sleeper. Rail pad works with concrete sleeper, rather than wooden ties. Rail pad generally protect railway sleeper from impacting. Besides, load-deflection is the most use of rail pad. The raw material of rail pad adopts plastic or rubber, which can decrease shock from passing locomotive and insulate. Main types of rail pad include Rubber rail pad for concrete sleepers, High-elastic grooved EVA/HDPE/rubber rail pads and Rail pads for E-type or SKL rail fastening systems.

Rail insulator

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Rail insulator is a rail component that adjust rail gauge and insulate steel rail from sleeper and rail clips. As for the function, rail insulator has same functions with rail pad. Rail insulator is mostly made from Nylon-6 or Nylon-66. In addition, rail insulator is applied to E-type, SKL, and Nabla rail fastening system.

Rail plastic dowel

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Rail plastic dowel, also named rail plastic sleeve or concrete insert, is an ordinary fastener in the rail fastening system. Rail plastic dowel is pre-imbedded into the railway sleeper and install with screw spike or anchor bolt. There are two basic function of rail plastic dowel. Firstly, rail plastic dowel is used to fix rail to sleeper. Secondly, rail plastic sleeve insulate other fasteners from sleepers. According to the raw materials, rail plastic dowel can be classified into PA66 and HDPE type. Rail plastic dowel is applied to SKL fastening system.

Spring washer and flat washer

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Spring washer and flat washer are widely applied to different rail fastening systems, such as SKL, KPO, and Nabla rail fastening system. Beside as a part of rail fastening system, they are also applied to rail connection.


In conclusion, these parts of rail fastening system give support to railway track together, so that rail fastening system can make railway track smooth and safe.