Shunting, in railway operations, is the process of sorting items of rolling stock into complete trains, or the reverse. In the United States this activity is known as switching.
Rail Shunting can be classified into three broad categories:
- Hand shunting - Hand shunting is used when coaches or wagons are pushed by human power to facilitate movement.
- Hump shunting - More commonly used than hand shunting, hump shunting is used when one end of the yard is at an incline and the vehicles in question roll down the incline or 'hump' into pre-set yard routes. This is also referred to as 'loose shunting'.
- Loco shunting - The most popular method of shunting among the three, loco shunting is used when a locomotive pushes or pulls the coaches/wagons and places them in predefined tracks, according to the shunting plan.
Rail shunting equipment ranges from rechargeable electric shunters to specially licensed road shunters, with upto 5000t shunting capacities.