Tinsley Marshalling Yard opened in 1965 as a part of a major plan to rationalise all aspects of the rail services in the Sheffield area, and closed in stages from 1985 with the run-down of rail freight in Britain. It was also the site of Tinsley Traction Maintenance Depot (TMD), which was closed and demolished in the mid 1990s. At its peak 250 locomotives were allocated to this depot.
The yard was designed along the lines of large US rail freight yards. It featured gravity-assisted shunting and a computerised system of wagon control. Incoming trains were split in the 11 arrival sidings, propelled over the hump in the yard, from where the individual wagons rolled down a slope and were automatically sorted into new trains on the Yard's 80 main sorting sidings.
In 1965 British Rail even built a purpose built shunting loco ‘Class 13’ to shunt the wagons around the yard as other conventional loco’s were not powerful enough.
Only three were ever built and had 70,000 pounds per foot force, they were retired and scrapped between 1983 & 1986.
The Manchester-Sheffield-Wath electrification was extended into the yard to allow electrically hauled trains to the Manchester area to be handled. Unlike similar electrified marshalling yards, to save on costs the main body of the sorting sidings was not electrified: a half of the arrival sidings was electrified for incoming electric trains; departing electric trains either had to use the southern third of the main sorting sidings (the western part of which were wired for electric trains) or had to be drawn out of the main
sorting sidings by diesel locomotives into electrified departure roads where the electric locomotives were attached.
In 1981 the electrification was removed with the closure of the Manchester-Sheffield-Wath system.
By 1995 the decline in British heavy industry meant that this type of traffic had also declined massively. This resulted in the closure of the locomotive depot. The eastern connection to the Midland 'Old Road' fell into disuse at this time, the western connection to the Midland Main Line and goods depot at Grimesthorpe was lifted, and the rest of the yard progressively fell into disuse over the next ten years.
A few years later only the main sorting sidings remained: a part of these were to be used to stable steel trains destined for the Sheffield area, the rest of the remaining sidings were used to store surplus-to-requirements rolling stock in a poor state of repair. However in 2007 the remaining sidings have been lifted and a new, much smaller yard has been laid, the remaining area has been taken the under-construction Sheffield International Rail Freight Terminal, a brand new rail-linked distribution and goods transshipment centre.
The main Tinsley Yard signalbox was closed in July 2010, and only a very small area at Shepcote Lane end is used today.