Railway Sleeper SIZES and WEIGHTS

The most common LENGTH for railway sleepers in the world is about 2.6 metres or 8ft 6" long.
However, as well as 2.6m we also stock other railway sleeper sizes such as 1.2m, 2.4m, 3.0m & 3.6m (approx 4ft, 8ft, 10ft & 12 ft)

The most common WIDTH for a railway sleeper is 250mm or 10".
We have other railway sleeper sizes as well such as 200mm or 300mm, (8" or 12")

The most common THICKNESS of railway sleepers is 125mm & 150mm. (5" & 6").
UK railway sleepers tend to be 125mm (5") & European railway sleepers 150mm (6").

Historically, railway sleepers never had to be exact in length, width or depth for their purpose on the railway track, and so the sawmills were fairly ‘give or take’ in the timbers they produced. Hence all sizes were approximate. That means that although a railway sleeper may be described as approximately 2600mm in length, or 300mm in width, or 125mm in depth it may in fact be several centimetres (or inches) longer or shorter, thicker or thinner. In addition, some railway sleepers were not cut perfectly square at the ends, which makes them hard to measure accurately. SO, ALLOW SOME LEEWAY in your precise calculations, and cater for trimming or creativity if necessary. This may be frustrating for those who love exactness in the world, but I guess there are some things in life which we just can't control!  As it happens, most landscaping projects have an element of flexibility or tolerance in them and can cope with this. However if a specific project needs exact accuracy in length, width or depth then a landscaper may need to either cut the railway sleeper to their precise specifications, or think of using a different size or type of railway sleeper that is more accurate, e.g. the new pine ones.

Our selection of railway sleepers is now so varied that you will certainly find something that suits your plans and pocket. Light or dark coloured, square edged or rounded, new or weathered, modern or 'olde worlde'... it all depends on the visual effect you want, and the type of garden or house you live in. Don't expect reclaimed railway sleepers to be all the same. They all vary in their own unique way!

How heavy are railway sleepers?

The weight of full size original railway sleepers varies enormously, according to the density, type, and age of the tree the wood came from, not to mention the particular length and profile of the sleeper. Pine is generally lightest (50-60 kilos) Oak is heavier (80-90 kilos) followed by Australian Jarrah (85-95 kilos) and African Azobe (90 - 100 kilos), which are both heavy tropical hardwoods. More recently there have been created shorter and lighter options to help with landscape projects, such as new British pine railway sleepers, and new oak railway sleepers, which come in a variety of profiles and lengths. On the other end of the lifting spectrum there are the super-heavyweight railway sleepers that are 2.6m x 300mm x 175mm, and about 120 - 140kg each.

Be careful about lifting! Please be sensible and always bend your knees etc.. Normally the worst accidents with railway sleepers are trapped fingers (when one person lifts and the other doesn't) or bruised legs or feet when railway sleepers are dropped on thighs or toes. I speak from experience ! Thick gloves and boots are recommended. Not sandals ! Likewise it is unwise to move railway sleepers after (or during) a pub crawl. 
IMPORTANT- The 2.6m x 300mm x 175mm size of hardwood railway sleepers CANNOT be offloaded by mere mortals. They are too heavy. (120kg - 140kg each). You'll need at least a forklift machine or furloughed Olympic weightlifter. The most successful 2019 World Championship medal winners (in order) were from China, North Korea, Armenia, United States and Belarus. Try searching in your local Ad-Mag or on Google. 

PLEASE take special care of fingers, feet and back when lifting railway sleepers.

More about rail guages....

There have been many rail gauges over the years. 4 feet 8.5 inches is widely used and is usually called standard, but there are many others still in widespread use. 1 Metre gauge can be found in many countries. 3feet 6inches for southern Africa and most of the Japanese network (Shinkanzen lines are standard). Russia and its old empire are 5 feet. Ireland is 5 feet 3 inches. Spain and Portugal mostly 5feet 5inches. India and Argentina are mostly 5feet 6inches as is the B.A.R.T. system in San Francisco. And let's not forget dear IKB's 7feet and a quarter inch.
Thanks for information from B.Holland

Railways, Romans & horses bottoms...

Did you know that the US shuttle design was determined by the width of a Roman horse's bottom ?
- The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches.
- That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?
- Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.
- Why did the English build them like that?
- Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
- Why did "they" use that gauge then?
- Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
- Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing ?
- Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
- So who built those old rutted roads?
- Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
- And the ruts in the roads?
- Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever. The Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

Now the twist to the story... When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's bottom ....Source unknown


I just checked your website about railway sleepers and you provide fake knowledge about the origins of British roads. You claim that the Romans built the roads but this is a lie and disinformation. The Celts and the Etruscans built the roads and the Greeks and Romans came after.
I thought I would notify you because we live in a world where facts are ignored and replaced with fairytale stories of the Victor.
Many thanks, 
Mike Jarratt.


The information provided about railway sleepers is great and informative.
But although Mile Jarratt's claims are somewhat true, they are in part (about 80%) incorrect!.
Although Celts and Etruscans did build many of the first roads, their roads had no major structure about them, and followed more closely the contours of land and landscapes.
Romans tended to build much more structured roads in a more engineered way and more straighter, and systematic road systems. The Celts and Etruscans roads were not much more than dirt tracks when compared to the Romans!.
I thought I would notify you because we live in a world where facts are ignored and replaced with fairytale stories of the Victor.
Many Thanks
Andrew Robertson


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