Components of Marshalling Yards

  • Reception Yard – Incoming trains are received and wait in reception in Yard lines while waiting to be dealt with. Incoming trains may require change of crew/Guard/Loco or may require sorting and Marshalling. Separate grids may be provided for reception yard maybe one for through loads and another for terminating trains. Separate Reception Yard may also be provided for trains coming from different directions. Grid for through trains bypass hump.
  • Sorting Yard – Trains are broken up on different sorting lines for various directions or specified destinations as per Marshalling order so as to form them into trains. 
  • Marshalling Lines – The lines in which sorted wagons are separated first, if necessary, according to commodity, type of vehicle, Marshalling order, direction reformed into train in a special order to meet specific requirement of a section or special transportation requirement. 
  • Departure Yard – In which loads are kept ready for departing. Separate Departure yards for different directions are provided in large Marshalling Yards. 
  • Shunting Neck – It is a line in yard leading to sorting lines in which actual shunting of trains are done clear of any running lines. 
  • Gathering Lines – On which turnouts to other lines are arranged. Transfer Lines – These lines are meant for transferring wagons, generally from Up Yard to Down Yard or vice versa, in case two separate marshalling or hump yards exists.
  • Bypass or avoiding Lines – It is a line which skirts the hump to avoid engine going over the hump. It joins the shunting neck at one end and main hump line short of the King Point at the other end. It is also used for vehicles which can’t pass over hump due to any other reason. 
  • Engine Run round line – It is the line reserved for incoming and outgoing train engine to and from yard or loco shed or for independent movement of shunting engines.
  • Engine Escape Line - The line is meant for engine movements to and from loco shed to yard so that engine returning to loco shed does not interfere with engine going out of loco shed or with any other movement in the yard.
  • King Points – The first pair of points a wagon meets with after passing over the hump. They divide the sorting yard into two portions.
  • Queen Points – The second pair of points a wagon meets with after passing over the hump on its way downwards which further divide the sorting yard into four portions.
  • Jack Points – The third pair of points a wagon meets with after passing over the hump. These serves to divert the rolling wagons into different grids of sorting yard.
  • Ten Points -Points beyond Jack Points are called ten points.
  • In a hump yard there is usually one pair of King Points, two pairs of Queen Points and four pairs of Jack points.
  • Retarders – Retarders are used to reduce and keep the speed of humped vehicles under control. It can be automatic or manually operated. Speed of wagons depends on push given by the engine, height of hump, weight of wagons, Roller Bearing or Conventional bearing etc. weather prevailing.
  • Skids – Where mechanical retarders are not provided skids are placed on sorting lines to control speed of humped wagons.
  • Breakvan siding – BVs of incoming trains detached are kept for attaching to outgoing trains.
  • Special stock siding – For keeping special type of stock like cattle wagon, explosive stock which can’t be humped.
  • Stabling lines – In Large Yards ballast, material train, POH special, empty military special are sometimes required to be stabled. Moreover heavy accumulation of certain type of stocks can happen due to various reasons. Stabling facilities should be ample to keep mobility of yard even in case of accumulation.
  • Sick Lines – Normally sick wagons are sorted out in Sorting yard, then sent in sick line. As the time taken in placing wagons and withdrawing from sick lines takes much time repairs can be done in Sorting Yard itself by providing Sick Line in Sorting Yard.


Major rail users have railway sidings in factory premises so as to have door to door services and to avoid double handling from factory to Railway goods shed and vice-versa. More than 75% of freight traffic is handled in sidings.

Classified as :

(i) Public sidings : Owned and operated by Railways and are available to rail users just like goods shed lines.

(ii) Assisted sidings : For the exclusive use of owners of the sidings . The cost is borne jointly by Railways and owners of the siding. This has been discontinued.

(iii) Private sidings : For the use of owners of the sidings. The cost is borne by owner of the siding.

(iv) Departmental (Railway) siding – For departmental use.

(v) Military siding

  • Private sidings save expenditure on provision, maintenance and operation of Goods shed. It is therefore desirable for Railways to encourage Private sidings especially for those users whose traffic is amenable to be handled in full train loads such as collieries, thermal power houses, steel, cement and fertilizer plants , iron ore mines, refineries, FCI godowns, POL depts. Etc.
  • A siding may be served through an exchange yard or train engine may place/remove the inward/outward rake directly into/from siding.
  • Concept of exchange yard is getting outdated and for better utilization of Rolling stock it is preferable to place and remove rakes into and out of siding by train engine itself.