A normal Rail (also known as Minecart Tracks) is a non-solid block on which any type of Minecarts ride on. Mobs cannot walk across rails of any type, but a player can. Note that in versions before 1.5, all types of mobs could stand on rails.
Rails are non-solid blocks first seen in the first "Seecret Friday Update" to Infdev. The block has several sprites depending on their orientation when laid. They appear as a 2D image of straight track in a player's hand. Tracks do not appear anywhere on a natural map, except for in Abandoned Mine Shafts—both as blocks in the passageways and in the Chest Minecarts. If there is no block below it, it will break.
Two directly adjacent tracks will attach inline to each other automatically. If two perpendicular track pieces meet, the track connecting them will turn into a curve.
If a track leads up to a one-block high ledge, the piece placed up against the ledge will turn into a ramp if another track is placed on top of the ledge.
"T" intersections can be powered by redstone circuits and their direction can change with switches provided there is no confusion about the 2 directions to switch to. Separate tracks laid adjacent but at the next level lower or higher can sometimes cause issues. Since there are no formal rail junctions, switched T intersections are the only method by which a player can have a track system that leads in more directions than back and forth.
Different variations of the rail are the detector, activator, and powered rails. A powered rail can be powered by redstone torches and move minecarts. Detector rails act like pressure plates, and can also power powered rails. Activator rails will activate minecarts with TNT when the rail is activated while the minecart goes over it.
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- Players may only place rails on a block. However, it is possible to find floating rails in an abandoned mine shaft.
- There is a glitch that happens when a track sloping downwards with a curved intersection when approached from the side will teleport a player under the block which traps him/her until he/she destroys the track and the block.
- If one is traveling a distance of 50 blocks, it takes an average of 12 seconds to walk, 9.3 seconds to sprint (as much as possible) and 10.6 seconds by minecart. But if one is traveling the route over and over (e.g. mining) it is worthwhile to invest in a railway system for ease of use.
- There is a glitch that, when a rail is placed on a block that has an Iron Bar connected to it, it will cause the top texture of the iron bar to disappear.
- If one needs to travel very long distances in the Overworld, it is best to build a railway system in the Nether. Not only will one use fewer rails, but they will get to their destination much faster in the Nether than in the Overworld (up to 64 m/s or 230 km/h in a straight line, or up to 325 km/h diagonally). This will often result in Zombie Pigmen spawning on the tracks and stopping or "bouncing" the minecart, however:
- This is less effective in the PS3 edition, as the Nether has a more similar size to that of the overworld.
- In an intersection of rails, the middle rail will always connect to the South-East coordinate (check by clicking F3 in the PC version).
- A dropped item on a rail will stop a minecart.
- An iron pickaxe can be seen in the curved rail.