Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 26 >> Sunstroke to Switzerland >> Supply Railways

Supply Railways

line, railway, army, standard-gauge and time

SUPPLY RAILWAYS. Under this des ignation are included all railways, except com bat railways, that may be constructed or used for the supply of an army in the field. They may vary from a light portable track to a standard-gauge road. Their principal uses are to connect the army with its base; to connect permanent camps with the nearest existing rail way; to form a belt line around a besieged place outside the field of observation; to form a belt line inside the line of defense of a besieged place; for the movable gun defense, and for a general supply line to supply an army in a per manent position. In extreme cases a railway may have to be constructed to supply an ad vancing army when local conditions preclude other means of transportation.

Regardless of the gauge, the same underlying principles govern the construction of all such lines, and having a plan for the operation and maintenance of an existing line of railway, it is easy to adapt it to the requirements of a tem porary line. The principal considerations that govern in planning for such a line are (1) the amount of army supplies, troops and animals that must be handled; (2) the time that can be permitted for its construction; and (3) the amount of transportation necessary to place the railway supplies on the work which applies particularly to operations beyond the sea. This latter condition ordinarily necessitates a nar row-gauge railway for a supply railway in a country beyond the sea. Local conditions, such as a large supply of standard-gauge material and rolling stock, may render advisable the building of a standard-gauge railway for oper ations from a friendly land base; but where conditions extremely favorable to a standard gauge line do not exist, a narrow-gauge railway will probably be decided upon in the general case of supply railways. The weight of the

materials and rolling stock is so much smaller, the bridges can be so much lighter, and the earth work is so much less than for a standard gauge road that the narrow-gauge railway is decidedly easier and quicker to build.

In case an official report is desired by the commanding general before he decides whether or not to construct the line, the entire survey and the estimates must be finished before the report is made. This report is accompanied by maps and profiles showing the routes considered and the final location decided upon, and the reasons therefor. It also shows the approxi mate cost of material and of civilian labor, the amount and cost of rolling stock and other equipment, the capacity of the line when it is completed and the time that will be necessary to complete the work as desired. In case it has been definitely decided in advance to build the line, the cost and time are only considered in that they must be kept as low as practicable, and the survey need not be completed before construction work begins. See MILITARY RAIL. ROADS.