The manufacture of steel rails, carried on first at Terni and afterwards at Savona, began in Italy in 1886.
Sleepers, called ties or cross-ties in America, are the blocks or slabs on which the rails are carried.
There are two main ways of attaching the rails to the sleepers, corresponding to two main types of rails - the bull-headed rail A B FIG.
Some extent in France and India, the rails have rounded bases and are supported by being wedged, with wooden keys, in castiron chairs which are bolted to the sleepers.
The keys which hold the rail in the chairs are usually of oak and are placed outside the rails; the inside position has also been employed, but has the disadvantage of detracting from the elasticity of the road since the weight of a passing train presses the rails up against a rigid mass of metal instead of against a slightly yielding block of wood.