Dividing train

A dividing train is a train that separates into two trains partway along its route, so as to serve two destinations.


On the initial leg of its journey, the train is driven as normal by a single crew. At a designated station before a junction, the train stops and some of the cars are detached, with passengers or goods still on board. The front part of the train then departs to run the remainder of its route. A second train is then formed from the detached cars, the points are changed at the junction, and a new crew drives the train on a different route to a second destination. Where the train is formed of multiple units – self-contained trainsets with their own propulsion and driving cabs – two or more units work in multiple on the first leg. After detachment, the second crew drives in the trailing unit's front cab.

On the return journey, the two trains may join at the same station where they divided. Special signalling is required at the station, both to recognise the division of the outbound train as intentional, and to allow the two inbound trains to enter the same block. The British rail network uses a draw ahead signal for the latter.[1]




  • IC trains between Genk and Knokke or Blankenberge (IC 1527-1542) are divided in Bruges, the front part will go to Knokke (IC 1627-1642) while the rest continues to Blankenberge and the same occurs on the return leg (IC 1505-1520). The consists are either made up with AM96 EMU's (enable passage from set coach to another) or M6 coaches hauled by Class 19 locomotives. In the latter case, cab cars and engines are fitted with automatic couplers to allow quick separation. On periods with high affluence or when facing problems, these IC trains could run entirely to one destination (usually Blankenberghe) and another trainset was be provided for the leg between Bruges and Knokke. This dual service ended with the new transport timetable introduced in December 2017. Now, separate trains are used for each destination.[2]
  • despite not being advertised as coupling trains, some IC trains between Lille Flandres and Tournai are then coupled with one or two AM96 trainsets going from Tournai or Kortrijk to Namur, therefore allowing to travel directly from Lille to Namur.[3]
  • The same happens with IC trains Between Lille Flandres and Mouscron. At Mouscron, they are coupled with AM96 multiple units which then run IC trains between Mouscron and Antwerp Centraal.[3]


  • There are several dividing regional and high-speed trains all over Germany. ICE trains from Munich often split at Hanover into sections for Bremen and for Hamburg. ICE from Berlin split at Hamm into sections for Cologne and for Dusseldorf.
  • Hanover Stadtbahn: In the evenings and on Sundays the lines 2 and 8 of Hanover's light rail system work with dividing trains. Trains start in Alte Heide as line 2 and divide in Peiner Straße stop. One part continues as line 8 to Messe Nord, the other as line 2 to Rethen. In the other direction, trains reconnect at Bothmerstraße station and run as line 2 to Alte Heide.
  • Hamburg S-Bahn: The trains on the line S1 of Hamburg's S-Bahn system usually split at Ohlsdorf into sections for Hamburg Airport and for Poppenbüttel.
  • Since 2014, the Regional-Express services RE 1 MannheimSaarbrückenTrierKoblenz and RE 11 Luxembourg City–Trier–Koblenz operate jointly with trains dividing in Trier main station. The RE 1 part is operated by the German DB Regio South-West with a Stadler FLIRT single-deck EMU as part of the Süwex network, while the RE 11 part is operated by the Luxembourgish Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois with a double-deck Stadler KISS EMU. This is probably the only situation where a single-deck and a double-deck train of two countries' national railways divide
  • Since 2018, the Regional-Express service RE 7 HamburgElmshornNeumünsterKiel/Flensburg is split in Neumünster with the front train continuing to Kiel, the rear to Flensburg.

United Kingdom

United States of America


Dividing trains are sometimes seen as a pitfall for the unwary traveller.[7]

See also


  1. Richard Stokes (executive producer); David Dore (writer, narrator) (1989). British Rail signalling: part 1 (video). British Railways Board. Event occurs at 20:37. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  2. "Plan de transport de décembre 2017 : Flandre occidentale". www.belgianrail.be (in French). Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  3. http://beluxtrains.net/indexfr.php?page=searchstation
  4. "Caledonian Sleeper timetables & tickets" (PDF). First ScotRail. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "London King's Cross (KGX) and Cambridge (CBG) to Ely (ELY) and King's Lynn (KLN): Mondays to Fridays" (PDF). First Capital Connect. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. "Mainline train times 3: Kent Mainline via Chatham". Southeastern. 19 May 2013. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. Christian, Maxwell (May 2012). "The Colonel's Extracts: The Pain of the Dividing Train". Retrieved 26 August 2013.
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