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We get lots of question regarding the use of code 55 vs code 80 rail. Here are some thoughts:
Aside from its prototype appearance code 55 track has a thinner and shorter rail height than code 80. Much of the newer equipment including rolling stock and locomotives have low profile wheel sets conforming to the NMRA standards. This type of equipment will operate fine on code 55 track. Micro-Trains ships all their new freight cars with both standard flange and low profile wheel sets. Some of the lower end products like Bachmann standard and Life-Like standard may still ship with standard flange wheel sets that will bottom out on the ties of code 55 track.
Atlas is expanding their offering of code 55 rail to include turnouts and crossings. The code 55 turnouts offered today are manual requiring additional equipment to convert to remote. Code 80 turnouts come in a variety of offerings including manual and remote.
Code 55 track is a bit less forgiving when it comes to track work.
If you are running lots of older equipment then code 80 track may be your best bet. On the other hand if you are looking for a more realistic track appearance with newer or converted equipment than code 55 is the best choice.
Much of the older rolling stock wheel sets can be converted to the newer low profile wheel sets for code 55 use with the Micro-Trains Super Bulk Pack, black low profile wheel sets with enough axles to convert 25 freight cars 1008-100...
Converting older locomotives will be harder to impossible.