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Flying junction: with a bridge, trains do not block each other

A flying junction or flyover is a railway junction at which one or more diverging or converging tracks in a multiple-track route cross other tracks on the route by bridge to avoid conflict with other train movements. A more technical term is "grade-separated junction". A burrowing junction or dive-under occurs where the diverging line passes below the main line.

The alternative to grade separation is a level junction or flat junction, where tracks cross at grade, and conflicting routes must be protected by interlocked signals.


Fretin triangle in France: Each side is over 3 km (2 mi) long. A grade-separated wye. TGV and Eurostar trains cross the junction at 300 km/h (186 mph).

Simple flying junctions may have a single track pass over or under other tracks to avoid conflict, while complex flying junctions may have an elaborate infrastructure to allow multiple routings without trains coming into conflict, in the manner of a highway stack interchange.

Flying junction without crossings

Where two lines each of two tracks merge with a flying junction, they can become a four-track railway together, the tracks paired by direction. This happens regularly in the Netherlands (see Examples below).

High-speed rail

Nearly all junctions with high-speed railways are grade-separated. On the French Lignes à Grande Vitesse (TGV) high-speed network, the principal junction on the LGV Sud-Est, at Pasilly where the line to Dijon diverges, and on the LGV Atlantique at Courtalain where the line to Le Mans diverges, are fully grade-separated with special high-speed switches (points in British terminology) that permit the normal line speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) on the main line, and a diverging speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).[note 1]

The LGV network has four grade-separated high-speed triangles: Fretin (near Lille), Coubert (southeast Paris), Claye-Souilly (northeast Paris) and Angles (Avignon). A fifth, Vémars (northeast Paris), is grade-separated except for a single-track link on the least-used side, linking Paris Gare du Nord and Paris CDG airport.


Flying junction just east of Columbia station in New Westminster


France (LGV Triangles)
Hong Kong
Flying junctions flank both ends of Weesp railway station

There are between 25 and about 40 flying junctions on Dutch railways, depending on how more complex examples are counted.

Flying junctions where the merged lines become a four track railway:

More complex flying junctions, with tracks from four directions joining:

United Kingdom
United States
The Uptown Hudson Tubes in Jersey City, New Jersey were built c. 1910.
Zoo Junction in Philadelphia in 1977
Flying junction on the Tremont Street subway approaching the Pleasant Street incline in Boston

See also


  1. ^ See "Courtalain" on the French language Wikipedia.


  1. ^ City of Chicago, Department of Subways and Traction, Second Annual Report of the Department of Subways and Traction, City of Chicago, for the Year Ending December 31, 1940 (Chicago: City of Chicago, December 31, 1940).
  2. ^ Chicago Department of Subways and Traction, Comprehensive Plan, 2-29, III-VII.
  3. ^ Chicago Transit Board, Plan for Expanding Rapid Transit Service in the Central Area of Chicago (Chicago: Chicago Transit Board, April 20, 1962).