Junction (rail)

Junction (rail)

A junction, in the context of rail transport, is a place at which two or more rail routes converge or diverge.This implies a physical connection between the tracks of the two routes (assuming they are of the same gauge), provided by'points' (US: switches) and signalling. In a simple case where two routes withone or two tracks each meet at a junction, a fairly simple layout of tracks suffices to allow trains to transfer from one routeto the other. More complicated junctions are needed to permit trains to travel in either direction after joining the new route,for example by providing a triangular track layout. In this latter case, the three points of the triangle may be given different names, for example using points of the compass as well as the name of the overall place.

Rail transport operations refer to stations that lie on or near a railway junction as a "junction station". Frequently, trains are built up and taken apart (separated) at such stations so that the same train can split up and go to multiple destinations. For goods trains (US: freight trains), marshalling yards (US: Classification yards) serve a similar purpose.

The world's first railway junction was Newton Junction (now Earlestown station) near Newton-le-Willows, England, where in 1831 two railroads merged.

Measures to improve junction capacity

The capacity of the junctions limits the capacity of a railway network more than the capacity of individual railway lines. This applies more as the network density increases. Measures to improve junctions are often more useful than building new railway lines. The capacity of a railway junction can be increased with improved signalling measures, by building points suitable for higher speeds, or by turning level junctions into flying junctions. With more complicated junctions such construction can rapidly become very expensive, especially if space is restricted by tunnels, bridges or inner-city tracks.

ee also

*Rail terminology
*Railway town

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