A rail yard, or railroad yard, is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading/unloading, railroad cars and/or 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.:46
Many railway yards are located at strategic points on a main line. Main line yards are often composed of an Up yard and a Down yard, linked to the associated railroad direction. There are different types of yards, and different parts within a yard, depending on how they are built.
Freight yards 
For freight cars, the overall yard layout is typically designed around a principal switching (US term) or shunting (UK) technique:
- A hump yard has a constructed hill, over which freight cars are shoved by yard locomotives, and then gravity is used to propel the cars to various sorting tracks;
- A gravity yard is built on a natural slope and relies less on locomotives;
- A flat yard has no hump, and relies on locomotives for all car movements.
Hump yard and gravity yard tracks are equipped with mechanical retarders which control the speed of the cars as they roll downhill to their destination tracks.
A large freight yard complex may include the following components:
- Receiving yard, also called an arrival yard, where locomotives are detached from freight cars, cars are inspected for mechanical problems, and sent to a classification yard;
- Classification yard (US and by Canadian National Railway in Canada) or Marshalling yard (UK and Canadian Pacific Railway in Canada) where cars are sorted for various destinations and assembled into blocks (this is also known as sorting yard colloquially);
- Departure yard where car blocks are assembled into trains;
- Car repair yard for freight cars;
- Engine house (in some yards, a roundhouse) to fuel and service locomotives.:58
Unit trains, which carry a block of cars all of the same origin and destination, do not get sorted in a classification yard, but may stop in a freight yard for inspection, engine servicing, and/or crew changes.:52
Freight yards may have multiple industries adjacent to them where railroad cars are loaded or unloaded and then stored before they move on to their new destination.
Major freight yards in the U.S. include the Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska, operated by Union Pacific Railroad, and the Corwith Yards (Corwith Intermodal Facility) in Chicago, operated by BNSF Railway.
Coach yards 
Coach yards are used for sorting, storing and repairing passenger cars. These yards are located in metropolitan areas near large stations or terminals. An example of a major U.S. coach yard is Sunnyside Yard in New York City, operated by Amtrak. Those that are principally used for storage, such as the West Side Yard, are called "layup yards". or "stabling yards".
See also 
- Classification yard
- List of rail yards
- List of railway roundhouses
- Rail transport operations
- Siding (rail)
Further reading