Siding (rail)

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Railway sidings (left) beside the main running-lines (right) at Kingswear in Devon, England Railway sidings, Kingswear - - 1507928.jpg
Railway sidings (left) beside the main running-lines (right) at Kingswear in Devon, England
Old rail siding Old Rail Siding (8248419565).jpg
Old rail siding
Derelict industrial rail siding showing old platform and warehouse at the disused Galong railway station, Australia (circa 2016) Loading platform.jpg
Derelict industrial rail siding showing old platform and warehouse at the disused Galong railway station, Australia (circa 2016)

A siding, in rail terminology, is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line or through route such as a main line or branch line or spur. It may connect to through track or to other sidings at either end. Sidings often have lighter rails, meant for lower speed or less heavy traffic, and few, if any, signals. Sidings connected at both ends to a running line are commonly known as loops; [1] [2] those not so connected may be referred to as single-ended or dead-end sidings, [3] or (if short) stubs. [4]

The main line, or mainline in American English, of a railway is a track that is used for through trains or is the principal artery of the system from which branch lines, yards, sidings and spurs are connected. It generally refers to a route between towns, as opposed to a route providing suburban or metro services. For capacity reasons, main lines in many countries have at least a double track and often contain multiple parallel tracks. Main line tracks are typically operated at higher speeds than branch lines and are generally built and maintained to a higher standard than yards and branch lines. Main lines may also be operated under shared access by a number of railway companies, with sidings and branches operated by private companies or single railway companies.

Branch line Minor railway line

A branch line is a secondary railway line which branches off a more important through route, usually a main line. A very short branch line may be called a spur line. David Blyth Hanna, the first president of the Canadian National Railway, said that although most branch lines cannot pay for themselves, they are essential to make main lines pay.



Sidings may be used for marshalling (classifying), stabling, storing, loading, and unloading vehicles. [5]

Common sidings store stationary rolling stock, especially for loading and unloading. Industrial sidings (also known as spurs ) go to factories, mines, quarries, wharves, warehouses, some of them are essentially links to industrial railways. Such sidings can sometimes be found at stations for public use[ clarification needed ]; in American usage these are referred to as team tracks (after the use of teams of horses to pull wagons to and from them). Sidings may also hold maintenance of way equipment or other equipment, allowing trains to pass, or store helper engines between runs.

Rolling stock railway vehicles, both powered and unpowered

The term rolling stock in rail transport industry refers to any vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches, and wagons. In the US, the definition has been expanded to include the wheeled vehicles used by businesses on roadways.

An industrial spur is a type of secondary track used by railroads to allow customers at a location to load and unload railcars without interfering with other railroad operations.

Factory facility where goods are made, or processed

A factory,manufacturing plant or a production plant is an industrial site, usually consisting of buildings and machinery, or more commonly a complex having several buildings, where workers manufacture goods or operate machines processing one product into another.

Some sidings have very occasional use, having been built, for example, to service an industry, a railway yard or a stub of a disused railway that has since closed. It is not uncommon for an infrequently-used siding to fall into disrepair. Even if officially abandoned such sidings may be left derelict rather than lifted and removed.

Passing siding

A particular form of siding is the passing siding (U.S. and international) or passing loop (U.K.). This is a section of track parallel to a through line and connected to it at both ends by switches (U.S.) (points in international usage). Passing sidings allow trains travelling in opposite directions to pass, and for fast, high priority trains to pass slower or lower priority trains going the same direction. They are important for efficiency on single track lines, and add to the capacity of other lines.

International Union of Railways international rail transport industry body

The UIC or International Union of Railways is an international rail transport industry body.

Passing loop short section of track that allows trains to pass on a single track route

A passing loop or passing siding is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at or near a station, where trains or trams travelling in opposite directions can pass each other. Trains/trams going in the same direction can also overtake, provided that the signalling arrangement allows it. A passing loop is double-ended and connected to the main track at both ends, though a dead end siding known as a refuge siding, which is much less convenient, can be used. A similar arrangement is used on the gauntlet track of cable railways and funiculars, and in passing places on single-track roads.

Railroad switch railroad turnout

A railroad switch (AE), turnout, or [set of] points (BE) is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another, such as at a railway junction or where a spur or siding branches off.

Refuge siding

Single-ended (or dead-end) siding with similar purpose to passing loop.

Team track

Example of multiple team tracks Amstetten-Bf-10.jpg
Example of multiple team tracks

A team track is a small siding or spur track intended for the use of area merchants, manufacturers, farmers and other small businesses to personally load and unload products and merchandise, usually in smaller quantities. [6] The term "team" refers to the teams of horses or oxen delivering wagon-loads of freight transferred to or from railway cars. [7] Team tracks may be owned by the railroad company [8] or by customers served by the railroad, or by industrial parks or freight terminals that encompass many customers. [9] In some jurisdictions, the operation and construction of team tracks is regulated by legal authorities. [10] [11]

Merchant businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others

A merchant is a person who trades in commodities produced by other people. Historically, a merchant is anyone who is involved in business or trade. Merchants have operated for as long as industry, commerce, and trade have existed. In 16th-century Europe, two different terms for merchants emerged: meerseniers referred to local traders and koopman (Dutch: koopman referred to merchants who operated on a global stage, importing and exporting goods over vast distances and offering added-value services such as credit and finance.

Manufacturing industrial activity producing goods for sale using labor and machines

Manufacturing is the production of products for use or sale using labour and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial design, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale. Such finished goods may be sold to other manufacturers for the production of other, more complex products, such as aircraft, household appliances, furniture, sports equipment or automobiles, or sold to wholesalers, who in turn sell them to retailers, who then sell them to end users and consumers.

Agriculture Cultivation of plants and animals to provide useful products

Agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture into the twenty-first.


Earliest rail service to an area often provided a team track on railroad-owned property adjacent to the railroad agent's train station. [12] As rail traffic became more established, large-volume shippers extended privately owned spur tracks into mines, factories, and warehouses. Small-volume shippers and shippers with facilities distant from the rail line continued using team tracks into the early part of the 20th century.

Train station Railway facility where trains regularly stop to load or unload passengers and/or freight

A train station, railway station, railroad station, or depot is a railway facility or area where trains regularly stop to load or unload passengers or freight. It generally consists of at least one track-side platform and a station building (depot) providing such ancillary services as ticket sales and waiting rooms. If a station is on a single-track line, it often has a passing loop to facilitate traffic movements. The smallest stations are most often referred to as "stops" or, in some parts of the world, as "halts".

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Warehouse building for storing goods

A warehouse is a building for storing goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, towns or villages.

Throughout the mid to latter portion of the 20th century, improved highway systems and abandonment of low-volume rail lines made full-distance truck shipments more practical in North America and avoided delays and damage associated with freight handling during transfer operations. [13] However, as a result of higher fuel costs, greater traffic jams on Interstate Highways, and the growing movement towards sustainable development, there has been recent upward trend towards moving long-distance freight traffic off highways and onto rail lines. This has resulted in local communities and rail lines seeking construction of new team track and intermodal facilities. [14] [15]


Some railroads publish detailed specifications for the design and construction of many elements of team tracks. For example, the Union Pacific Railroad has standards and guidelines for many aspects of spur track construction including track layout, clearance standards and turnout and switch stand designs. [16]

Generally, team tracks do not have road or pedestrian crossings across them. [11]

See also

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New York and Atlantic Railway

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Rail yard location for storing and sorting railroad cars

A rail yard, railway yard or railroad yard is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading and unloading, railroad cars and locomotives. Railroad yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock stored off the mainline, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic. Railroad cars are moved around by specially designed yard switchers, a type of locomotive. Cars in a railroad yard may be sorted by numerous categories, including railroad company, loaded or unloaded, destination, car type, or whether they need repairs. Railroad yards are normally built where there is a need to store cars while they are not being loaded or unloaded, or are waiting to be assembled into trains. Large yards may have a tower to control operations.

Bridgton and Saco River Railroad transport company

The Bridgton and Saco River Railroad (B&SR) was a 2 ft narrow gauge railroad that operated in the vicinity of Bridgton and Harrison, Maine. It connected with the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad from Portland, Maine, to St. Johnsbury, Vermont, near the town of Hiram on the Saco River.

Gauntlet track

Gauntlet track or interlaced track is an arrangement in which railway tracks run parallel on a single track bed and are interlaced such that only one pair of rails may be used at a time. Since this requires only slightly more width than a single track, all rails can be carried on the same crossties/sleepers. Trains run on the discrete pair of rails appropriate to their direction, track gauge or loading gauge.

The Raritan River Rail Road was a twelve-mile (19 km) short-line railroad in Middlesex County, New Jersey U.S., Founded in 1888, it was based in South Amboy, from which it ran west as far as New Brunswick. It served both passengers and freight in its heyday and operated profitably throughout much of its existence. The Raritan River was absorbed into Conrail in 1980, becoming a branch line of Conrail's system.

Railway companies can interact with and control others in many ways. These relationships can be complicated by bankruptcies.

Rail freight transport type of train that hauls cargo

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The Evansville Western Railway is a Class III common carrier shortline railroad operating in the Southern Illinois and Indiana region. It is one of three regional railroad subsidiaries owned and operated by P&L Transportation.

Tinsley Marshalling Yard

Tinsley Marshalling Yard was a railway marshalling yard, used to separate railway wagons, located near Tinsley in Sheffield, England. It was opened in 1965 as a part of a major plan to rationalise all aspects of the rail services in the Sheffield area, and closed in stages from 1985 with the run-down of rail freight in Britain. It was also the site of Tinsley Traction Maintenance Depot (TMD), which was closed in 1998. At its peak, 200 locomotives were allocated to this depot.

Sacramento Northern Railway

The Sacramento Northern Railway was an 183-mile (295 km) electric interurban railway that connected Chico in northern California with Oakland via the California capital, Sacramento. In its operation it ran directly on the streets of Oakland, Sacramento, Yuba City, Chico, and Woodland and ran passenger service until 1941 and freight service into the 1960s.

Sydney Freight Network railway line in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Sydney Freight Network is a network of dedicated railway lines for freight in Sydney, Australia linking the state's rural and interstate rail network with the city's main yard at Enfield and Port Botany. Its primary components are the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) and a line from Sefton to Enfield and Port Botany. The Network has been managed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) since 2012. Prior to the completion of the SSFL, it was managed by RailCorp as the Metropolitan Freight Network.

Kelowna Pacific Railway was a short-line railroad, formerly a Canadian National Railway line, leased by Knighthawk Rail. The KPR’s line ran from Kelowna to Kamloops through the Okanagan Valley. Operations started on 30 January 2000, and ended on 5 July 2013, when the company entered receivership.

Freight railways in Melbourne

The rail network of Melbourne, Australia, has an significant number of railway lines and yards serving freight traffic. Rail transport in Victoria is heavily focused on Melbourne, and, as a consequence, much of the state's rail freight passes through the metropolitan network.

Goods station form of railway station

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The Cambridge Branch, officially named the Hautapu Branch since 2011, is a rural railway line in the Waikato, New Zealand. It was previously known as the Cambridge Industrial Siding from 1996 to 2011, and as the Cambridge Branch Railway from 1977 to 1996. It was also named the Hautapu Industrial Siding. The Cambridge Branch Line stretched from Ruakura Junction for 19.27 km to the town of Cambridge. It had five stations along its length, at Newstead, Matangi (Tamahere), Bruntwood (Fencourt), Hautapu and the terminus at Cambridge.

Rail freight transportation in New York City and Long Island

From the start of railroading in America through the first half of the 19th century, New York City and Long Island were major areas for rail freight transportation. However, their relative isolation from the mainland United States has always posed problems for rail traffic. Numerous factors over the late 20th century have caused further declines in freight rail traffic. Efforts to reverse this trend are ongoing, but have met with limited success.

North Hawthorne station

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Track 61 (Boston) Rail spur to Boston Harbor

Track 61 is an industrial rail terminal track in South Boston, Massachusetts, also known as the Boston Terminal Running Track. Track 61 is the last remnant of the vast rail yards that once covered much of the South Boston waterfront. Track 61 legally begins at Summer Street, while the line from Bay Junction to Summer Street is the Boston Terminal Running Track and Terminal Yard. However, the names are frequently used interchangeably.


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