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Heavy-duty diesel shunting locomotive of the DB series V 60 when shunting with InterCity cars in Berlin-Lichtenberg station . The special processes involved in the transition from a shunting run to a train journey and vice versa take place at the start and end stations of train journeys.

The term shunting is derived from the French word "ranger" = to put in order, organize, set up, line up, tidy up - also known as "move" (officially in Austria ), out of date in Germany ; in Austria as a noun: "Verschub" (e.g. Verschublok ). It describes certain driving movements with road vehicles in road traffic , e.g. B. maneuvering a truck trailer at loading or unloading points or parking a car with repeated attempts in tight parking spaces, and in rail traffic moving individual rail vehicles or groups of vehicles , unless it is a train journey (including restricted travel ).

Shunting in rail traffic


  • The official definition of the term shunting for the German railways is: Shunting is the movement of vehicles in rail operations, with the exception of the running of trains.
  • In Austria, the term shunting is used and is defined as: Intended vehicle movements that are not part of the train or side journeys.
  • In Switzerland, shunting movements refer to all vehicle movements in the train station, in workshops, depot facilities, sidings and on the route as well as in the driver's cab signaling that cannot be carried out as train journeys.
  • A single locomotive or a rail vehicle group that performs shunting trips is referred to as a shunting unit, while the term train is only used when trips go to the open route .

Shunting movements

According to the definition of the term, in Germany, for example, maneuvering includes moving railway vehicles

  • Dissolving and assembling (= forming) trains ,
  • Moving a group of wagons or individual vehicles to another station track,
  • Driving around a train turning at the terminus with the locomotive ,
  • Movements of individual locomotives within the station to and from the trains,
  • Provision and collection of railway wagons at loading facilities , such as loading lanes and loading ramps ,
  • Delivery and collection of wagons in sidings , e.g. B. within an industrial plant ,
  • Transfer of locomotives, wagons and groups of wagons to and from workshops and parking areas,
  • Moving individual wagons or groups of wagons using stationary conveyor systems , e.g. B. a capstan system , motor vehicles or human power, etc.

When shunting, a distinction is made between the following types of movement and shunting procedures on German railways:

  • Maneuvering is the name given to driving single working traction vehicles alone or moving a group of coupled vehicles together with at least one working traction vehicle
  • Walking means moving rail vehicles by gravity while driving over a drainage hill over which the vehicles are pushed off or, mostly in older train stations, walking down a generally inclined pull-out siding
  • Pushing is called the acceleration of vehicles that are not coupled to a traction vehicle and continue to roll on their own after the traction vehicle has stopped
  • Pushing is the movement of separated vehicles in order to put them together "ready for coupling " for coupling
  • Pressing means the pressing together of stationary vehicles in order to tighten the buffer springs a little and thus facilitate the uncoupling or coupling of vehicles that are ready for coupling
  • Shifting is the movement of vehicles by human power or by another drive that does not come from a traction vehicle.

Maneuvering systems and maneuvering aids

Many stations have to maneuver more or less extensive track and other facilities or they serve as marshalling yards , formerly marshalling yards called exclusively for this purpose. Special shunting systems are tracks or track groups, e.g. B. the direction group of a marshalling yard, transfer tracks , pull-out tracks , piles of drainage , track brakes , conveyor systems for moving the car without a traction vehicle, signals , shunting interlockings and much more.

Maneuvering aids and complex systems are required to slow down pushed-off or moving wagons. The "classic" tool is the by an employee, Hemmschuhleger called onto the track down drag , a braking effect occurs, runs onto the carriage with a wheel. In marshalling yards , hand-controlled or automatically operating track brakes are also used, which are installed in several tracks directly below the run-off hill and ensure that the cars that run off do not arrive at the target track, a track belonging to the direction group, at too high a speed. There they are either stopped with a drag shoe or taken over by a conveyor system that brings them to the wagons that are already on the track ready for coupling.

The shunting route is located next to the track and in switch areas. For example, shunters walk on it to set manually operated points or to couple and uncouple wagons.

Move vehicles when maneuvering

Main tracks may only be used for shunting with prior knowledge of the dispatcher ; they must be cleared in good time for a train journey. On sidings decides turnout guards on the maneuvering. To prevent flanking journeys, locally defined shunting bans apply in tracks that lead to main tracks without adequate flank protection .

Carry out shunting trips

Engine shunter with radio remote control

The driver and switch attendant , if necessary a shunting attendant and one or more shunters, are involved in the execution of a shunting run . When using a radio-controlled shunting locomotive , the driver is also responsible for the tasks of the shunting attendant.

Before a shunting movement of the agreed train drivers to switch guards on target, purpose and peculiarities of driving. This task can also be assigned to the maneuvering attendant. The switch keeper may not be informed in certain cases if B. is regularly recurring journeys with the locomotive of a train. The switch attendant adjusts the route and gives his consent to travel with the signal Sh 1 or Ra 12 , verbally or, if none of these signals can be given, by holding up his arm or a white glowing hand lamp.

In contrast to train journeys, the routes for shunting journeys in the setting range of a mechanical or electromechanical interlocking are usually not particularly secured; the signals that the point attendant uses when maneuvering from the signal box can be operated freely. In more modern track diagram signal boxes, on the other hand , the switches and other devices in the track are set as shunting routes and are then protected against accidental switching under the moving vehicles depending on the signal . In addition, the track vacancy detection system prevents a vehicle-occupied device in the route from being moved.

If all conditions are met for the shunting which are shunter the motion task. The driver has to observe the route during the journey, because, in contrast to a train journey, shunting is basically " on sight " at a maximum speed of 25 km / h, on a construction track at a maximum of 20 km / h. Under certain local conditions, the switch attendant can announce the free route to the driver; in this case, you can drive at up to 40 km / h. The driver can delegate the observation of the route to the maneuvering attendant, who must position himself on the vehicles or in the track so that he can overlook the route, especially when the vehicle is pushed. He must maintain constant radio contact or visual contact with the driver.

For the rejection (see below) and draining Special rules apply with repulsive and operational bans and other precautions to ensure, for example, wagons with hazardous or particularly sensitive charge that vehicles and cargo not too hard running onto stationary vehicles or track closures damaged become. Likewise, the parking of vehicles and the stipulation against unintentional rolling requires special regulations. Every now and then, inadequate securing of parked vehicles leads to crossings and collisions with trains.

Maneuver in the marshalling yard

The rolling ( pushing ) of wagons over a mountain of drainage is mainly practiced in large shunting yards . This shunting process makes it easier and faster, in a kind of assembly line process, to dismantle freight trains and create (= assemble) new freight trains compared to other shunting processes.

In the marshalling yard, the arriving freight trains usually drive into the approach group . Here they must first be prepared for disassembly. Above all, there is the recording of the train sequence and the assignment of the individual vehicles to their destinations. Even if the wagon sequence and a lot of other information is already known before the train arrives via the storage and pre-notification in IT systems, some of the information required for the process procedure still has to be recorded on the spot. This involves determining the direction tracks into which the vehicles are to be sorted and also about certain properties of vehicles and cargo that require special precautionary measures when moving. There are e.g. B. Vehicles that require pushing off and draining either

  • is prohibited or
  • is only allowed if they can be stopped with the handbrake or
  • is only allowed if they can be stopped with two drag shoes or a handbrake.

The "classic" method of recording is the "shunting slip", which is prepared on site by a "slip writer". The shunting ticket forms the basis for the distribution of tasks and information for all those involved in the process - train drivers , shunting and signal box personnel . Today, the manually produced shunting slip is largely replaced by portable input devices that transmit the data by radio to a control center, usually housed in the signal box , where it can then be further processed.

After the acquisition, preparation for expiration begins. The compressed air brakes must be "vented" (= released) and the individual vehicles and vehicle groups "made long" and possibly immediately uncoupled. “Slowing down” is the loosening of the screw couplings so that the vehicles, when this method is used, can be uncoupled from the side by a “decoupler” with the aid of a coupling rod while slowly driving past towards the drainage mountain. In parallel to these preparations in the Einfahrgruppe prepares the course attendants in flow interlocking ago to expiration. If he sets the points manually in older signal boxes, the shunting slip serves as a basis. From it he takes the order of the vehicles or vehicle groups and the target track assigned to them in the direction group of the station. Correspondingly equipped interlockings automatically set the switches during operation after the switch attendant has entered the information on the shunting slip into the system and saved it.

The maneuvering attendant on the drainage hill is responsible for walking over the drainage hill, also called pulling the trigger; in technical jargon he is referred to as a mountain master or back master . He is assigned tasks that are otherwise the responsibility of the driver. If a radio-controlled shunting locomotive is used as a push-off locomotive and the shunting attendant controls it directly from his place at the apex of the run-off mountain, he performs the duties of the driver and the shunting attendant. In the conventional process mode, he gives the driver the driving orders with the help of the trigger signals (see below).

In automatic sequence operation, rail contacts control the setting of the points. The switch attendant then only has to observe the processes while they are running in order to be able to intervene immediately in the event of irregularities. Disturbances, such as incorrect runs in a track that was not planned, are rare here. If it does happen, it is usually because the pressure was too fast and the system was no longer able to react between two processes. Manual operation, on the other hand, requires a high level of concentration and a lot of experience from the point attendant. Operating errors lead to incorrect runs that have to be corrected later with considerable maneuvering effort. In the worst case, incorrect or untimely switch operation leads to the derailment of a vehicle.

The slope of the discharge hill is calculated in such a way that even poorly moving vehicles can cross the switch zone and reach the destination track without stopping first. Therefore, the excess energy has to be slowed down during the run so that the vehicles do not arrive at the destination track at too high a speed. To do this, the track brakes built into the tracks are used, which previously consisted of an ejection device for drag shoes . The brake shoe placed on the rail by a brake shoe layer for pre-braking is ejected again in this ejection device after it has braked the vehicle, so that it can continue rolling unhindered. Modern systems use bar track brakes for pre-braking, the braking force of which is electronically regulated after the wind force, vehicle weight and speed are automatically measured.

In the direction of tracks arrived vehicles to conventional procedure of Hemmschuhlegern with skids collected before the already stationed there vehicles and braked to a standstill. In modernly equipped marshalling yards, the tracks of the directional group are equipped with conveying devices that automatically catch the vehicles rolling down the drainage hill and bring them to the vehicles already on the track at low speed so that they are ready for coupling (pushing both sides).

Vehicles in filled directional tracks usually have to be pushed open for coupling with the help of a shunting locomotive . If they have to be put together in groups in the train to be newly formed, they are rearranged in a second step. Only then can the newly formed train in the pull-out group of the marshalling yard be hauled by the locomotive and prepared for travel. When the train supervisor has determined that it is ready to depart and all other requirements for the journey are met, the train leaves the marshalling yard for its new destination.

Signals for maneuvering

In Germany, the protection signals (Sh) set up on the track , the audible and visible shunting signals (Ra) given as hand signals , the push-off signals and other signals in the track area are used to communicate with each other .

Protection signals and track blocking signals

The fixed protection and track blocking signals are operated by the point keeper .

  • Sh 0 ( Stop! No driving ) - a horizontal black stripe on a round white disk
  • Hp 0 ( stop! ) - one or two red lights horizontally next to each other
  • Sh 1 ( driving ban lifted ) - a black stripe rising to the right on a round white disk or two white lights rising to the right.

The signals are aimed at the driver and the maneuvering attendant alike.

Shunting signals

Shunting signals

The shunting signals are given by the shunting attendant or turnout attendant as hand signals and as acoustic signals, during the day with the help of a signal flag or a waving disc, in the dark with a white hand lamp and a signal whistle or a horn. The maneuvering signals must be given visibly and audibly at the same time , but already apply if they are only visibly recorded. The following signals are used in Germany:

  • Signal Ra 1 drive away

A long tone and at the same time - if necessary repeated - vertical movement of the arm from top to bottom mean that the maneuvering drive should move away in the direction of the signal transmitter.

  • Signal Ra 2 Origin

Two moderately long tones and at the same time a slow horizontal movement of the arm back and forth - possibly repeated - mean that the maneuvering drive should be in the direction of the signal transmitter.

  • Signal Ra 3 press

Two short tones in quick succession, at the same time lifting both arms forward at shoulder height and the flat outstretched hands repeatedly approaching each other mean that the motor vehicle should push the vehicles open for coupling or uncoupling.

  • Signal Ra 4 repel

Two long tones, one short tone and at the same time twice a horizontal movement of the arm from the body outwards and a quick vertical movement downwards mean that the motor vehicle should repel vehicles.

  • Signal Ra 5 shunting stop

Three short tones in quick succession and at the same time a circular movement of the arm mean that the maneuvering drive should stop.

Trigger signals

Trigger signals

The push-off signals regulate the downhill run on the mountain:

  • Ra 6 - a horizontal white bar with a black border or a horizontal white strip of light - meaning “Stop! Print prohibited "or" Print prohibited "
  • Ra 7 - a white bar with a black border diagonally upwards to the right or a white strip of light diagonally upwards to the right - meaning "take the trigger slowly"
  • Ra 8 - a vertical white bar with a black border or a vertical white strip of light - meaning "pull the trigger moderately quickly"
  • Ra 9 - a vertical light strip and a horizontal light strip branching off to the right from the upper end - with the meaning "drive away from the drainage mountain in the opposite direction to the flow direction"

Other signals for the shunting service

The signals described in the railway signal order under Other signals for the shunting service are fixed in place in the track area:

  • Ra 10 - a semicircular white board (shunting stop board) with a black border with or without the inscription “Halt for shunting trips” - means that maneuvering beyond the board is not allowed. Shunting may only take place with the permission of the dispatcher in the form of command 14.1 . The marshalling panel is normally to the left of the track (in exceptional cases it can also be set up to the right of the track, e.g. if there are structural restrictions).
  • Ra 11 (DS 301) / Ra 11a (DV 301) - a yellow "W" with a black border (called a waiting signal or shunting signal) - means that you have to stop before the signal and that you can only continue after the switchman has given his consent . This gives his approval in the area of ​​the former DB by the signal Sh 1, verbally or by raising a hand, in the area of ​​the former DR by shunting signal Ra 12.
  • Ra 11b (DV 301) - a white "W" with a black border (called a waiting sign or shunting stop signal) - means that you must stop before the signal and only continue driving after you have given your consent. Approval is given by holding up an arm or a white glowing lantern.
  • Ra 12 (DS 301) / So 12 (DV 301) - a red and white sign ( boundary sign ) - indicates the point up to which a track may be occupied when the tracks converge.
  • Sh 1 (DS 301) / Ra 12 (DV 301) - shunting signals are two white lights rising from left to right

Maneuvering beyond the signal Ra 10

If, as an exception, maneuvering beyond the Ra 10 signal, the dispatcher of the train registration office from which the route is coming must agree. The dispatcher of the station in which shunting is taking place notifies the shunting journey by means of a written order that shunting may be carried out beyond the Ra 10 signal.

In command 14 (when handed out), command 14.1 (free text) is entered: "You may maneuver in the station (x-city) on the entry track from the direction (y-city) via signal Ra 10 / entry point until xx.xx o'clock". Orders are given by the dispatcher or dictated to the driver or shunting attendant to take notes. All entries are repeated, the Tf or Rb signs the command form on behalf of the Fdl. (No countersigning of the command from the Tf when handing over, only handover)

The reason for this procedure is that trains could come from the free route at any time, which - if shunting on the main track - would have to stop at the entry signal. The Ra 10 signal is at the danger point of the entry signal, the distance between the signal and the danger point - the so-called danger point distance - must remain free for the sake of safety, in the event that the train does not come to an exceptional stop at the entry signal. For this reason, shunting may only be done beyond Ra 10 if the route is free and the previous (or next) train detection point cannot release trains. In most cases, this is technically secured by submitting the permit.

Importance of maneuvering

The most extensive shunting operation takes place in rail freight transport . At Deutsche Bahn AG, this task is performed by the DB Cargo transport and logistics division , which also operates the large marshalling yards. In most of the neighboring countries, shunting operations are still assigned to the respective railway administration, as was the case with the former Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn until 1994. In Austria, with the structural reform u. a. founded Infrastruktur.Betrieb AG ÖBB, which as a division of the shunting has officially represent all Austrian shunting locations.

The maneuvering is very costly due to the high personnel costs , expensive equipment and vehicles. That is why the more and more frequently privatized and therefore profit-oriented railways try to reduce or even avoid shunting operations through ongoing rationalization . This happens in travel z. B. with the use of train units that have little or no change in their composition and therefore hardly need to be shunted, as well as the use of multiple units and multiple units instead of locomotive-hauled trains. In the freight transport sector, many railway companies have given up single wagon transport in order not to have to shunt any more. Where this has been retained, costs are reduced with the latest technology in the shunting yards and by using radio-controlled shunting locomotives, with the help of which significantly fewer personnel are required. In addition, the number of marshalling yards has been drastically reduced and train formation tasks have been concentrated on a few particularly efficient systems; currently there are B. in Germany only 14 marshalling yards. Nevertheless, the transport of the vast majority of goods is still left to the, in many cases, faster and more economical road transport , even though rail transport offers greater safety and is in some cases more environmentally friendly .


  • Signal book (SB) of the Deutsche Bahn AG.
  • Trains run and maneuver - internal regulations of Deutsche Bahn AG.
  • Rudolf Grimberg, Ferdinand Hein: maneuvering - a joint task. In: DB-Fachbuch , Volume 4/20, Eisenbahn-Fachverlag, Heidelberg / Mainz 1989.
  • Dietmar Homeyer u. a .: Shunting in rail operations , In: DB-Fachbuch , Eisenbahn-Fachverlag, Heidelberg 2000, ISBN 3-9801093-5-6 .
  • Rolf Schünemann et al .: Shunting Service A – Z. 2nd Edition. In: transpress Taschen-Lexikon . transpress VEB publishing house for transport, Berlin (GDR) 1980 (first edition 1978).

Web links

Commons : Shunting vehicles  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Swiss Driving Regulations (FDV) A2016 Federal Office of Transport (FOT), July 1, 2016 (PDF; 3 MB). R 300.1, Section  3.2 Explanation of the terms  
  2. VBG specialist information BGI 770, Section 4.4