Route Availability

Route Availability (RA) is the system by which the permanent way and supporting works (bridges, embankments, etc.) of the National Rail network of Great Britain are graded. All routes are allocated an RA number between 1 and 10.

Rolling stock is also allocated an RA (again between 1 and 10) and the RA of a train is the highest RA of any of its elements. The RA is primarily related to the axle load of the vehicle, although axle spacing is also taken into consideration. In practice it is the locomotive which governs where trains may operate, although many high capacity 4 axle wagons have high RAs when fully loaded. (When considering the operation of trains the loading gauge must also be considered.)

Route Availability as a system was first devised by the London and North Eastern Railway, and perpetuated by British Rail to ascertain which locomotives can work on which lines throughout the rail network in Great Britain. The system uses numbers from 1 to 10 and a locomotive must have a route availability (RA) lower than or equal to the RA of a line to be allowed to work on the line.

Exemptions may be obtained to allow locomotives to operate on lines from which they may otherwise be banned. An exemption might be granted by placing a speed restriction over a weak bridge, for example.

Read more about Route AvailabilityRoute Availability of A Line, Vehicle Route Availability, Network Rail, See Also

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