1 MARCH 2000
1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE. This manual provides guidance for design and rehabilitation of railroad
track, terminals, and loading facilities, along with some information on construction.
a. The guidance in this manual is primarily for railroad lines operated at lower speeds and with lower
traffic volumes than those most commonly found in the commercial industry. The guidance on terminal
design is for small terminals handling military cargo: primarily tracked or wheeled vehicles and intermodal
b. This manual, supplemented with the specified references, should provide sufficient information for
general purposes. Most projects, however, include some aspects that are very site-specific or some
conditions that are not common. Designers are encouraged to obtain assistance when unusual or
unfamiliar situations are encountered.
2. APPLICABILITY. These instructions are applicable to all USACE elements and their contractors
involved with railroad design, construction, and rehabilitation
3. REFERENCES. Appendix A contains a list of references used in this manual.
4. CONTENT OF THIS MANUAL..
a. Applying the Material in this Manual. Designing a railroad involves satisfying many objectives that
often conflict. Throughout the process, the designer must prioritize project objectives and decide to what
extent one objective may be sacrificed to satisfy another. It is the proper balance of these compromises,
specifically matched to each situation that produces a good railroad design.
b. New Lines and Terminals. For designing new railroad lines and terminals, chapters 2 through 4 and
6 through 8 of this instruction are required. The design process is summarized in these steps:
(1) Determine the traffic and load carrying requirements. Estimate the number of cars to be handled
over the line and the magnitude of the wheel loads the track must support.
(2) Determine the terminal and support facilities requirements. From the type and magnitude of traffic
to be handled, determine the number, size, and location of loading and unloading facilities (terminals),
sidings, wyes, and other support facilities and auxiliary tracks.
(3) Establish route profile and alignment guidelines. Based on load carrying requirements, maximum
desired speed, locomotive pulling capability, and other operating needs and conditions, select maximum
effective grade, horizontal and vertical curvature, and other profile and alignment specifications.
(4) Select the route. Through an iterative process, select the best route and profile between the
terminals and the connecting commercial carrier (usually the nearest commercial railroad line).