A transfer table, also called a traverser (especially in the UK), is a piece of railway equipment. It is similar in function to a turntable, though it can't be used to turn equipment around. It consists of a single length of track that can be moved from side to side, in a direction perpendicular to the track. There are often multiple tracks on one side of the table and a single or multiple track(s) on the other.
They are often found in yards with locomotive maintenance facilities. The table allows a shed with multiple stalls for locomotives or carriages to be served by a single track, without the need for points that could take up a much larger area. Traversers were used at metropolitan termini where space is at a premium, such as Kew and St Kilda in suburban Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, which worked only two tracks.
In Europe there were traversers at the terminal platforms at Birmingham Moor Street Station and at the former Gare de la Bastille terminus in Paris. These were installed to release locomotives from arriving passenger trains to the adjoining track. They had three parallel tracks on the table so that whichever positions the traverser was in an incoming passenger train would not be faced with a void.
Smaller traverses are frequently used on roller coasters to switch out trains.
Monorails and maglevs
Combined turntable and traverser
In rare instances, the turning features of a turntable have been combined with the lateral motion of a transfer table. Examples of such installations are in Asia.
An example of both pieces of equipment was in use up until the 1970s at the Collinwood Yards in Cleveland, Ohio. It allowed a single turntable to serve a linear train shed.
Traversers are common on ridable miniature railways to access the shed and maintenance facilities. There may be a desire to reduce the number of points required, or — in the case of raised track with overhanging carriages — to allow switching with the same restrictions found on a saddle-beam monorail.
Sydney Monorail depot with its traverser at the front
The two row transfer table in Pilatus Railway, one edge also serving as a passenger platform