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With railways, a break-of-gauge occurs where a line of one gauge meets a line of a different gauge. Trains and rolling stock cannot run through without some form of conversion between gauges, and freight and passengers must otherwise be transloaded. Either way, a break-of-gauge adds delays, cost, and inconvenience to traffic that must pass from one gauge to another.


Transloading of freight from cars of one gauge to cars of another is very labour- and time-intensive, and increases the risk of damage to goods. If the capacity of freight cars on each system does not match, additional inefficiencies can arise. Technical solutions to avoid transloading include variable gauge axles, replacing the bogies of cars, and the use of transporter cars that can carry a car of a different gauge.

Talgo and CAF have developed dual gauge axles (variable gauge axles) which permit through running between broad gauge and standard gauge. In Japan the Gauge Change Train has been built on Talgo patents that can run on standard and narrow (1067 mm) gauge.

In some cases, breaks-of-gauge are avoided by installing dual gauge track, either permanently or as part of a project to replace one gauge with another.

At almost every break-of-gauge, passengers have to change trains, but there are a few passenger trains that can run through a break-of-gauge. For example, the Talgo (variable-gauge axles, see above), and the Moscow-Beijing trains (bogie exchange) although on the latter...
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