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Facing and trailing

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Turnouts facing and trailing. Note that this diagram is for left-hand traffic. For right-hand traffic, invert "F" and "T".
Turnouts facing and trailing. Note that this diagram is for left-hand traffic. For right-hand traffic, invert "F" and "T".

Facing or trailing are railway turnouts (or 'points' in the UK) in respect to whether they are divergent or convergent. When a train traverses a turnout in a facing direction, it may diverge onto either of the two routes. When travelled in a trailing direction, the two routes converge onto each other.[1][2][3]


In the early history of railways in Britain, when signalling and interlocking were primitive, and staff were inexperienced, facing turnouts were a hazard, because a train travelling at high speed could be accidentally switched into a slow speed divergence or dead end. Facing turnouts were therefore banned, except when absolutely necessary. However, facing turnouts cannot be avoided where there are crossing loops on single lines.

With the widespread availability of electrically interlocked signalling in modern times, the rule against facing turnouts has been relaxed.

Diamond crossings

Fixed diamond crossings (with no moving parts) count as trailing points in both directions, although in very exceptional circumstances such as propelling a train in reverse over fine angle diamond crossings they can derail wagons as they bunch up.

Switched diamonds, which contain two stub turnouts in disguise, count as facing turnouts in both directions and are also known as moveable angles (UK).

Moveable crossings

Fixed V-crossings are trailable in both directions. Moveable crossings are effectively facing in both directions and must be correctly aligned.

Stub switches

Stub switches are effectively facing in both directions and must be correctly aligned.

Double junctions

Double junctions are now configurable in a number of different ways, whereby the number of facing and trailing turnouts vary.

Goods siding

The goods siding on a double line (in the above diagram) uses two trailing points and a diamond. It can be shunted by trains in either direction.

This was widely done in New South Wales, though later on the diamond crossing was replaced with a pair of ladder crossovers; such as:

Discover more about Goods siding related topics

New South Wales

New South Wales

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Coral and Tasman Seas to the east. The Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory are enclaves within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2021, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.3 million, live in the Greater Sydney area.

Breadalbane, New South Wales

Breadalbane, New South Wales

Breadalbane is a small village located in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia in Upper Lachlan Shire. It is located on the Lachlan River headwaters and not far from Goulburn. At the 2021 census, Breadalbane had a population of 107.

Jerrawa railway station

Jerrawa railway station

Jerrawa was a small railway station, at the locality also known as Jerrawa, on the Main South railway line in New South Wales, Australia.

Woy Woy railway station

Woy Woy railway station

Woy Woy railway station is located on the Main Northern line in New South Wales, Australia. It serves the southern Central Coast suburb of Woy Woy opening on 1 February 1889.

Newbridge, New South Wales

Newbridge, New South Wales

Newbridge is a village of about 100 residents in New South Wales, Australia in Blayney Shire. It is approximately 30 km from Bathurst and 15 km from Blayney in the Central Tablelands of NSW. At the 2006 census, Newbridge had a population of 90 people.

Source: "Facing and trailing", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2021, July 14th),

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  1. ^ "Figure 2.12. Facing- and Trailing-Point Movements". Integrated Publishing. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  2. ^ "facing-point switch". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  3. ^ Adams, Braman Blanchard; Hitt, Rodney (1908). The Railroad Signal Dictionary. The Railway Gazette for Railway Signal Association. p. 12 – via Internet Archive.

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