本文主講 Angela, Wesley
It has been nearly 200 years since the world’s first public steam-powered train was built in England. Today, trains are of course much superior to that initial, simple but efficient means of transportation. However, one thing that has not changed in all that time is the design of the rail tracks beneath the trains.
The concept behind the base track of most railways has remained surprisingly the same for over two centuries. The idea was, and still is, to build up a foundation above the surrounding land that is high enough to avoid flooding. Crushed stone, called ballast, is then laid over the bare raised earth. Laid on top of this stone, and perpendicular to the direction of the track, are wooden beams called ties. These ties are made of hardwood and treated with creosote, a kind of wood preservative. This helps weatherproof the ties. Some 93% of ties in the United States today are made of wood. Finally, beams of steel, often more than 10 meters long, are laid across the ties to form the railroad. These beams are welded together at the ends, securing the ties and serving as the base for the wheels of a train.
As wood and ballast are the main components of a railroad track, the design is actually rather eco-friendly. A single 100-car freight train can carry the same amount of goods as 350 full-sized trucks! An “economy of scale” results, reducing the shipping costs and the need for workers to transport the goods. This makes trains safer and more efficient than large highway trucks.
So, the next time you’re at a train station or cross railroad tracks, take a moment to admire their design.
1. According to the passage, which of the following is true about trains?
(A) The structural design of the rail track has undergone a major change.
(B) Old trains are considered more efficient than those of today.
(C) It has been less than a century since the first train was made.
(D) Today’s trains are more sophisticated than old ones.
2. According to the passage, which is the correct order in the building of a railroad track?
① Laying wooden ties over the track.
② Spreading ballast over the bare foundation.
③ Welding the ends of long steel beams together.
④ Raising the earth to form a foundation for the track.
(A) ② → ④ → ③ → ①
(B) ② → ③ → ① → ④
(C) ④ → ② → ① → ③
(D) ④ → ① → ② → ③
3. Which of the following advantages of freight train traffic is NOT mentioned in the passage?
(A) Train traffic is better than highway traffic for the environment.
(B) Freight trains cost less to manufacture than highway trucks.
(C) The cost of freight is cheaper for trains than for trucks.
(D) Fewer workers need to be employed.
Ans: 1. D 2. C 3. B