The Purpose of Switches in a Rail Yard

A rail yard serves many purposes. For example, a high-density rail yard may also be an asset in relocating the main track. Regardless of its function, a rail yard has a complex network of switches and other equipment to facilitate the breakdown, sorting, and recombining of freight. Read more about the different types of rail yards and how they function. In addition, we’ll talk about why rail yards are essential.

They are composed of an Up yard and a Down Yard.

In railway operations, the main line yard consists of an Up yard and a Down one. Main line yards are often located at strategic points along the main line and are usually composed of two separate yards: the Up yard and the Down yard. Each railroad yard is linked to a particular railroad direction. A yard may contain a tower for control purposes or be divided into separate areas, depending on the type and construction method.

Trains must enter the yard without delay. The yardmaster determines which track to use. Sometimes he is forced to accept a train on any track. In other cases, he may have to use two tracks to accommodate a specific train. The longer routes are used for inbound and outbound trains, while the remaining tracks are reserved for classification.

They are located at Strategic Points on the Main Line.

Many railways have railroad yards at strategically important points along their main lines. Most mainline yards are divided into an up and a down yard, with each part linked to a specific railroad direction. The construction of each part of the yard differs. Gravity yards, for example, use a natural slope to sort carloads into trains, whereas flat yards do not have a hump.

A rail yard must have adequate space for track space, as trains must exit the mainline to switch cars. Yards usually have two or more leads, with switches controlled by Railroad Yard Air at each end. They must also have through-running sidings and a hump facility to sort and turn locomotives. Some yards have more than one track and are divided into up and down yards according to local travel directions. To ensure that the track capacity is sufficient, the yard must have enough space to accommodate all trains.

They are Designed for Efficient Breakdown, Sorting, and Recombining of Freight.

To reduce the need for idling, railroads are designing their yards to minimize the time trucks spend waiting to unload or load. For example, these yards may be equipped with small pneumatic, hydraulic, or spring-driven braking retarders that slow down trains before yard switch points. Alternatively, truckers can use a video portal to read their truck ID numbers. Additionally, some railroad yards have Automated Gate Systems and biometric scanners that recognize truck drivers’ thumbprints and provide digital paperwork or receipts.

Modern rail yards are predominantly rectangular. The capacity of these facilities is determined by the number of track spurs available and is often difficult to modify once the facility is constructed. While individual rail terminals are smaller than airports, the total area of rail sites may be greater than other modes of transportation. For example, the combined area of rail freight yards in Chicago exceeds the total area of all airports in the city.

They have a Complex Network of Yard Switches

Switches in a rail yard control the speed of trains and reduce the total space required. The switches vary and are commonly used in large or small yards. The most common type is an M switch, while the L and P types are used in smaller yards. The number of switches also varies depending on the yard’s configuration. 

Classification yards are also used. Flat yards consist of a single main track with multiple switches on one or both ends. In this configuration, a signal pushes cars into the right track. Large and medium-sized flat yards are found in the USA, including Settegast Yard on UP and Decatur Yard on BNSF. 

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