A rail yard, or railroad yard, is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading/unloading, railroad cars and/or locomotives. Railroad yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock stored off the mainline, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic. Railroad cars are moved around by specially designed yard switchers, a type of locomotive. Cars in a railroad yard may be sorted by numerous categories, including railroad company, loaded or unloaded, destination, car type, or whether they need repairs. Railroad yards are normally built where there is a need to store cars while they are not being loaded or unloaded, or are waiting to be assembled into trains. Large yards may have a tower to control operations.
There are different types of yards, and different parts of yard, depending on how they are built. Yards may have multiple industries adjacent to them where railroad cars are loaded or unloaded and then stored before they move on to their new destination.
Many railway yards are located at strategic points on a main line. Main line yards are often composed of an Up yard and a Down yard, linked to the associated railroad direction.