What is the difference between switcher locomotives and regular locomotives?

Question by tom: What is the difference between switcher locomotives and regular locomotives?
I am new to model railroading and I would like to know what the difference is between a switcher locomotive and a regular, full-size locomotive.

Best answer:

Answer by mike1942f
In the real world, switcher engines are shorter and lighter in weight and are used for moving cars in freight yards and for delivering them to industrial sidings. Less weight for moving a few cars, better economy, less wear and tear on lightly built rail sidings. They work alone
Regular engines are long heavy machines designed for pulling heavy long trains which are designed to be linked to other engines and operated by one engineer in the first one. They are mostly used on main line tracks.
In the model world, miniature switch engines which are a metal shell wrapped around a heavy motor have long been a sales pitch item “Worlds smallest most powerful HO engine” When the modeler wants to do primarily yard working (as opposed to beautiful scale landscapes or scheduled running) the undersized switcher actually looks better in the scaled down yard as it runs around moving cars, especially if the cars are models of smaller prototype car rather than modern monster tankers, hoppers, auto cars, and trailer trains.

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