Marshalling Yards

  • Marshalling Yard is a place where goods trains are received, sorted, reformed and dispatched.
  • A yard is a classifying and distributing machine with facilities for receiving, sorting and despatching wagons to their various destinations after the prescribed attention.
  • A yard has a network of tracks, divided into several grids for receiving, sorting, forming and despatching of trains.
  • Even though yards perform important functions, the work done in a Marshalling yard is only indirectly productive. The ingenuity of operating man consists in putting in minimum number of wagons into minimum possible number of marshalling yards by forming trains for farthest common points subject to rules and regulations. Working of the marshalling yard has to be closely monitored and planned.
  • The need and importance of Marshalling yards has considerably reduced with the discontinuance of piecemeal traffic in favour of point to point train loads.
  • However such works as placement and removal of wagons from siding, sorting sick and other wagons detached at intermediate stations and brought to yard, running of pilots, ad dealing through trains continue to be done at marshalling yards and as such Marshalling yards continue to play an important role in goods operation.
  • Work in a marshalling yard not only affects the traffic it deals with, but also the entire train running on the section in particular and working of Railway system in general.

Classification of Yards
1. Terminal yard

  • Terminal yard means yard attached to terminal goods shed where large number of wagons are loaded, unloaded. This term is also used for every goods yard, where a goods train terminate.

2. Marshalling yard

  • Yards are nominated as Marshalling yards on the basis of number of wagons dealt with. The concept of Marshalling yard are becoming anachronistic and world over it is giving way to freight terminals.

3. Transit yard

  • Trains are received and despatched without any shunting on them. In such yard generally change of crew, engine, C&W examination, etc. are carried out.

Types of Marshalling Yards
1. Flat Yards

  • Sorting by push and pull method of shunting.
  • Maximum number of wagons that could be sorted out in a flat yard with one shunting neck and one shunting engine will be around 500 or so in aday.
  • If the total quantum of traffic is more than this it is advisable to have a hump yard or separate Up and Down Yards.
  • Flat yards are economical in space, but slow in working and wasteful in shunting engine hours.

2. Hump yards

  • A hump of suitable height is provided and wagons are rolled from the crest of hump to desire sorting lines with gravitational force.
  • With proper mechanisation it is possible to sort upto 5000 wagons per day in a single hump.
  • One train load of 60 wagons can be sorted in 20-25 minutes in no-mechanised hump yard.
  • With retarders it can be done in 12-15 minutes.
  • In fully mechanised yards it can be done in 7-8 minutes.
  • Hump yard are economical in Shunting Engine Hours compare to Flat yards.

3. Gravity Yards

  • Natural slope of the site is taken to locate reception and sorting lines in such a fashion that wagons can be rolled from reception to sorting lines without the help of a shunting engine.
  • Wagons on reception lines are held in position by track brakes.
  • Main advantage is the reduction in operating costs due to saving in shunting engine hours.
  • Economical than Flat yard, but layout is dependent on the availability of plenty of land with the required topography.


Bailey Yard – Largest Marshalling yard in the world
Bailey Yard in North Platte in North America is world’s largest Marshalling Yard. It is operated by Union Pacific Railroad.
Features of Bailey Yard includes :

  • Covers a huge expanse of 11.5 square km.
  • 13 km in length and more than 3 km wide.
  • 200 separate tracks including 17 receiving and 16 departure lines.
  • 2600 employees
  • An average of 14,000 wagons pass through the Yard every day.
  • Yard has two humps – one with a 10 m tall mound and another with 6.1 m high tall mound sorting four cars a minute into one of the 114 sorting lines.
  • Yard sorts approximately 3,000 coaches daily using its two humps.
  • Yard’s loco fueling and servicing center handles more than 8,500 locos per month and wagon repairing center attends to more than 1500 wagons per month.

Mughalsarai yard – Largest Marshalling Yard in India and Longest in Asia

  • Length of about 12.5 km.
  • Sub Yards - Down Central Yard, Down Receiving Yard, Marshalling Yard with Hump provided with Pneumatic Retarders, Down Departure yard, Up Central Yard, Up Inter Yard & Up Departure yard .
  • Yard has also a Electric Locomotive Shed (holding 147 locomotives), Diesel Locomotive (holding 53 locomotives), Wagon ROH shed .
  • On an average more than 210 freight trains pass through Mughalsarai yard every day.
  • Handles 1500 wagons daily.
  • With the discontinuance of piecemeal loading the traffic in the yard has substantially reduced.During its peak the yard handled 5,000 wagons daily.