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It’s a *much* faster way of shunting traffic – you don’t have to keep driving around and reversing all the time! There is actually a lot of control in the system – each wagon is weighed as it passes the hump and sets of retarders (brakes) all the way down which automatically control the speed of the wagon depending on its weight and route (and they’re able to detect over/underspeed wagons).
What is scary is seeing old footage, before the electronic systems came in (can’t find any links at the moment, sadly) – you would either have a man riding down on the wagon manually handling the brakes, or someone with a long pole running across the tracks to do them as each car went past – woe betide what would happen if he didn’t see a car!