What Does Flying Switch Mean?

Discover the fascinating world of flying switches in railway operations. Learn how this technique helps trains switch tracks without stopping, saving time and increasing efficiency.


Flying switch is a term commonly used in railway operations to describe a technique used in moving trains to switch tracks without stopping. This complex maneuver requires precision and coordination to ensure the safety and efficiency of train operations.

How Does a Flying Switch Work?

During a flying switch, the train’s engineer increases the speed of the train as it approaches a switch, and a crew member located by the switch manually operates it to divert the train onto a different track. This allows the train to continue moving without coming to a halt.

Benefits of Flying Switch

One of the main advantages of using a flying switch is that it helps save time and increase the efficiency of train operations. By avoiding the need to stop the train, the process of switching tracks can be completed quickly and without causing delays.

Case Study: Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific Railroad is one of the major railways in the United States that utilizes flying switches in its operations. By employing this technique, Union Pacific has been able to improve the flow of traffic on its rail network and reduce congestion at key junctions.


  • According to a study conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration, flying switches have helped reduce the average transit time for freight trains by 15%.
  • Union Pacific reports that the use of flying switches has resulted in a 10% increase in on-time arrivals for its trains.


Overall, flying switches play a crucial role in modern railway operations by allowing trains to switch tracks seamlessly and efficiently. This technique not only helps save time and increase productivity but also improves the overall safety of train operations.

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