Classic Shunting Puzzles


A selection of classic shunting puzzles to amuze and entertain you.

Puzzle 1 Puzzle 2 Puzzle 3 Puzzle 4 Puzzle 5 Puzzle 6 Puzzle 7 Puzzle 8 Puzzle 9 Puzzle 10 Other Puzzles

Passing Trains

Two trains are travelling along the same stretch of single line track towards each other. Each train consists of an engine and two coaches. There is however a siding that can take one engine and one coach. How is it possible for the two trains to pass each other by using this siding?

Shunting Puzzle

This problem is presented as January 9th's Starter of The Day and you are invited to work on it using plastic cubes and these printable train tracks. The solution is also available from that Starter of the Day page.

Low Bridge

This shunting puzzle involves a circular track at the end of the main line. There are two trucks and an engine. The objective is the use the engive to change the position of the two trucks and for the engine then to return to the main line. The problem is that there is a low bridge which the engine can pass under but the two trucks can not.

Shunting Puzzle

Primary School Puzzle

I first came across this puzzle back in the 1960s when I was a pupil at D'Eyncourt County Primary school. It was presented to the class as an optional homework challenge and I remember the thrill going to school the following day knowing I had solved it.

Shunting Puzzle

The objective is to use the engine to swap the positions of the two trucks and return it to its starting position. I can't remember which of the versions above we worked on but I seem to remember that the section of track at the top of the first diagram is only long enough for one truck and the section of track to the left of the points in the second diagram is also too short for the engine.

Inglenook Sidings

Another classic shunting puzzle based on the real Kilham Sidings on the Alnwick-Cornhill branch of the North Eastern Railway (NER).

Shunting Puzzle

There are three short tracks connevted to the main line. The trach at the top of the diagram can hold five trucks while the other two sections can hold three each. A numner of trucks is selected from the eight available and the engine has to shunt the trucks in such a way that the selected trucks, in order, are coupled behind the engine for a journey on the main line.


Probably the most famous shunting puzzle is Timesaver was first published in the November 1972 issue of Model Railroader. The first diagram shows the sidings connected to the main line and indicated the maximum number of trucks that can be in any section of the sidings.

Shunting Puzzle

The diagram below is one of many possible challenges and, as the title suggests, the objective is to move the trucks in the least amount of time.

Shunting Puzzle

Transum Trams

You are now invited to try our tram shunting puzzles. They are interactive and you can earn a virtual Transum Trophy for each puzzle you complete.

Puzzle 1 Puzzle 2 Puzzle 3 Puzzle 4 Puzzle 5 Puzzle 6 Puzzle 7 Puzzle 8 Puzzle 9 Puzzle 10

And for the expert shunter here is a Bonus Level to finish your shunting day!.


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Matthew Scroggs, Twitter

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Matthew Scroggs, Twitter

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

ClimberT8, Personal

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

"For the Timesaver puzzle shown on the Shunting Puzzles page, what are the starting and ending positions of the engine?

[Transum: That's a very good question ClimberT8. I have always assumed that the engine came into the sidings from the main line. I have added images of the engine to show that. I hope that is what the creator of this puzzle (John Allen) intended.]"

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