Railroad Terminology, Slang, and Definitions

"A" End Of Car The end opposite that on this the hand brake is mounted.
"A" Unit A diesel unit equipped with a cab and operating controls.
AB Brake The current standard freight car air brake system. Also see Automatic Air Brake.
AB Control Valve The operating valve of the AB freight car brake. It controls the charging, application and release of the brakes.
Absolute Block A block which a train is not permitted to enter while it is occupied by another train.
Absolute Signal A block or interlocking signal without a number plate.
Advance Of A Signal The side of the signal opposite to that from which the indication is received.
Agent See Freight Agent.
Air Brake Hose The flexible connection between the brake pipes of cars or locomotives.
Air Compressor A power driven air pump which supplies compressed air for the operation of air brakes and other air actuated equipment.
Air Gauge (Air Brake) An instrument which indicates the amount of air pressure in the reservoirs or brake pipe.
Air Monkey Air brake repairman
Air Pipe (Air Brake) See Brake Pipe.
Alertor A device which detects the frequency of the engineman's movements and initiates an air brake application when the required frequency of such movement is not maintained. See Deadman Control.
Alley A clear track for movement through a yard.
Angle Bar Metal bar that is bolted to the ends of two railroad rail to fasten them together.
Angle Cock A two position valve located at both ends of the brake pipe on locomotives, passenger and freight cars. When open, it allows the passage of air.
Approach Signal A fixed signal preceding an interlocking signal, governing the approach to the interlocking.
Arrival Notice A notice, furnished to consignee, of the arrival of freight.
Aspect The appearance of a fixed signal conveying an indication.
Assigned Car Car which has been assigned to a particular industry or for use with a specific commodity.
Automatic Air Brake A braking system which draws air from the atmosphere and stores it under pressure. A reduction in brake pipe pressure, regardless of how it is made (bleeding of air by use of a valve, or by a break in the train line) automatically applies the brakes. An increase of brake pipe pressure causes brake to release.
Automatic Block Signaling 1. A system in which signals are operated automatically by a train, a broken rail, an open switch, a car standing on a turnout fouling the main track, etc.
2. Railroad crossing flashers and gates operated automatically by the approach of a train.
Automatic Block Signal System (ABS) A block signal system wherein the use of each block is governed by an automatic signal.
Automobile Car A car specially designed for transporting automobiles. It may be a type of box car or a type of flat car usually called an automobile rack car.
Automobile Parts Car. A box car specially fitted for transportation of automobile parts in racks without packing.
Automobile Rack Car Flat car with steel racks for transporting fully assembled automobiles. Rack have either two or three levels, are equipped with tie-down devices, and are cushioned for vertical and horizontal shocks.
Auxiliary Reservoir A reservoir for storage of compressed air to operate the brakes of each individual car, and supplied from the main reservoir on the locomotive through the brake pipe.
Average Agreement An agreement made between an industry and the railroad whereby the industry is debited for the time cars are held for loading or unloading beyond a certain period, and credited for the time cars are released within that certain period. Demurrage charges are assessed at the end of the month for any outstanding debits.
B & B Bridge and Building department
"B" End of Car The end on which the hand brake is located.
"B" Unit A diesel unit without a cab and without complete operating controls. Usually equipped with hostler controls for independent operating at terminals.
Back Haul To haul a shipment back over part of the route which it has traveled.
Back-Up Air Signal A warning whistle which can be operated at the rear of the train when backing up. Air for its operation is taken from the train line.
Bad Order 1. Car in need of repair.
2. When a defective car is found by a car inspector, he tacks a small card labeled "bad order" in bold lettering on or near the door of the car. That car may not be moved from the terminal where the inspection occurred until the necessary repairs are made.
Ballast Selected material (gravel, slag or other heavy material) placed on the roadbed to hold track in line.  Ballast preferably consists of hard particles easily handled in tamping, which distribute the load, drain well, and resist plant growth.
Ballast Car A car for carrying ballast for repair and construction work, usually a gondola or hopper.
Ballast Tamper A machine for compacting ballast under the ties.
Beanery A railroad eating house.
Belt Line A railroad with trackage within and/or around a city, operating as a pickup, delivery and transfer facility for truck lines and industrial plants.
Big Hole Emergency position of the air brake valve.
Billed Weight The weight shown on a waybill and freight bill.
Billet Car A low side gondola car built of steel throughout for transportation of hot steel billets.
Billing Point Location where the waybill is prepared.
Billing Repair Card The card furnished to the car owner when repair work is done on a foreign car.
Bill Of Lading A contract for the transportation services authorized by a tariff.
Bleed Valve See Release Valve.
Bleeder See Release Valve.
Block 1. A length of track of defined limits.
2. A group of cars classified for movement to the same yard or terminal.
Block Signal A signal at the entrance of a block to govern trains and engines entering and using that block.
Block Signal System A method of governing the movement of trains into or within one or more blocks by the use of signals.
Blocking or Bracing Wood or metal supports to keep shipments in place in or on cars.
Blue Goose A high-rail car used by management to get out of the office and look important.
Board A fixed signal regulating railroad traffic and usually referred to as a Slow Board, Order Board, Clear Board or Red Board.
Boarding Car A term commonly applied to a car used as a place of lodging for workmen. In the case of wreck trains, they are more often called dining and sleeping cars.
Body Center Plate The center plate attached to the underside of the body bolster. See Center Plate.
Bogie 1. The running gear of a highway semi-trailer which may be removed.
2. The term used generally to mean swivel railway truck.
Book of Rules See Rule Book.
Boomer A railroader given to drifting from road to road.
Bowl The tracks in the Classification Yard where all of the cars are switched to after being humped.
Box Car An enclosed car used for general service and especially for lading which must be protected from the weather.
Brake Club Three foot hickory stick used by freight trainmen to tighten hand brakes.
Brake Cylinder (Air Brake) A cylinder containing a piston which is forced outwardly by compressed air to apply the brakes. When the air pressure is released it is returned to its normal position by a release spring coiled about the piston rod inside the cylinder.
Brakeman Train service employee who assists with train and yard operations.
Brake Pawl (Hand Brake) A small, specially shaped, steel piece, pivoted to engage the teeth of a brake ratchet wheel to prevent turning backward, and thus releasing the brakes.
Brake Pipe The air brake piping of a car or locomotive which acts as a supply pipe for the reservoirs. When all brake pipes on the cars are joined, the entire pipe line comprises what is commonly called the "train line".
Brake Ratchet (Hand Brake) A wheel attached to the brake shaft, having teeth which the pawl engages, thus preventing the wheel and shaft from turning backward.
Brake Shaft A shaft on which a chain is wound and by which the power of a hand brake is applied to the wheels.
Brake Shoe Friction material shaped to fit the tread of the wheel when the brakes are applied
Brake Step A small shelf or ledge on the end of a freight car on which the brakeman stands when applying the hand brake. Sometimes called a brake footboard.
Brake Valve (Air Brake) The valve by which the engineer operates the brakes. The proper name is engineer's brake valve.
Brake Wheel An iron wheel attached to the upper end of the brake shaft which is manually turned to apply the brakes.
Branch Line A line serving one or more stations beyond the point of junction with the main or another branch line.
Brass Pounder Telegraph operator, whose sending instruments are made of brass.
Broad Gage (Track) When the distance between the heads of the rails is greater than 4 feet 9 inches. See Narrow Gage, Standard Gage and Gage Of Track.
Brownie A demerit for violation of rules.
Bulk Freight Freight not in packages or containers.
Bulkhead A partition which divides the car into sections or compartments. See Compartmentizer Car.
Bulkhead Flat A flat car with adjustable bulkheads at each end of the car, used for plywood, wallboard, etc.
Bull A special agent, patrolman or railroad policeman. Railroad policemen who check on the activities of all other railroad employees as well as those of trespassers.
Bump To displace a junior employee by the exercise of seniority rights.
Bumping Post A braced post or block placed at the end of a stub track to prevent rolling cars from going off the ends of the rails. See Car Stop.
Bunching The accumulation and tender of cars for loading or unloading in excess of orders or contrary to customary schedules.
Business Car See Office Car
Cab The space in a locomotive "A" unit containing the operating controls and providing shelter and seats for the engine crew.
Cab Signal A device located in the cab of a locomotive which indicates the condition of the track ahead, whether clear or occupied, by a display of signals.
Cabin Car See Caboose
Caboose A car attached to the rear end of a freight train for use by the train crew.
Caboose Hop An early term for a train composed of only engine and caboose.
Caboose Valve A valve located in the caboose so emergency brake applications may be made from the rear end of the train.
Caller An employee who notifies train and engine crews and other employees to report for duty.
Canned Discharged or dismissed from service.
Capacity (Freight Car) The normal load in pounds, cubic feet or gallons which the car is designed to carry. These figures are stenciled on the car.
Captain Freight or passenger conductor. A title dating from earliest railroading times when this was his official designation.
Car Distributor An individual who is assigned the responsibility of distributing empty freight cars.
Car Dumper A device for quick unloading of bulk materials such as coal or grain. After being clamped to the rail, the car is tilted or rolled over to discharge the lading.
Car Float A large flat-bottomed boat equipped with tracks on which railroad cars are moved in inland waterways.
Car Knocker A car inspector.
Car Lining Material placed on the walls of a car for the protection of goods
Car Mile The movement of a car the distance of one mile. A term used in statistical data.
Car Seal See Seals.
Car Stop A device for stopping motion of a car by engaging the wheels, as distinguished from a bumping post which arrests motion upon contact with the coupler of a car. See Bumping Post.
Card Board A small board, secured to the outside of a freight car, on which are tacked cards giving shipping directions or warning of dangerous lading, etc.
Card Rack A small receptacle on the outside of a freight car to receive cards giving shipping directions.
Carload The quantity of freight required for the application of a carload rate.
Carload Rate A rate applicable to a carload quantity of freight.
Catenary A system of wires suspended between poles and bridges supporting overhead contact wires normally energized at 11,000 volts.
Center Dump Car A car which will discharge its entire load between the rails.
Center Pin or King Bolt A large bolt which passes through the center plates on the body bolster and truck bolster. The truck turns about the bolt, but the stress is taken by the center plates. It is, therefore, a mere pin and not a bolt in the usual sense.
Center Plate One of a pair of plates which fit one into the other and which support the car body on the trucks, allowing them to turn freely under the car. The center pin or king bolt passes through both, but does not really serve as a pivot. The male or body center plate is attached to the underside of the body bolster. The female or truck center plate is attached to the topside of the truck bolster.
Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) A block system that uses blocks signal indications to authorize train movements.
Center Sill The central longitudinal member of the underframe of a car which forms, as it were, the backbone of the underframe and transmits most of the buffing shocks, from one end of the car to the other. Freight cars with cushioned underframes use a special type of floating center sill construction. See Cushion Underframe.
Chain Gang When a number of extra trains (not regularly scheduled freight runs) are put into service, regular crews may be assigned to take such trains in turn. When this occurs, train crews are said to be operating in chain gang service.
Circuitous Route An extremely indirect route.
Circus Loading A means of loading highway trailers by moving them over the ends of the cars.
Classification (Freight Cars) A destination and routing code used on switch lists for ease of switching cars.
Classification Tracks A system of tracks designed to facilitate classification switching by providing for the arrangement of freight cars according to their kinds, contents and destinations.
Classification Yard A yard where cars are grouped according to their destinations and made ready for proper train movement.
Class Rate A rate based on an assigned class rating (a percentage of first class) published in the Uniform Freight Classification
Cleaning In Transit The stopping of articles, such as peanuts, etc., at a point located between the points of origin and destination to be cleaned.
Clear Board A signal indication displayed to advise that no train orders are being held (also see Board).
Clearance or Clearance Limit The limiting dimensions of height and width for cars in order that they may safely clear all bridges, tunnels, station platforms and other structures as well as equipment on adjacent tracks.
Cleat A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength, to prevent warping, or to hold in position.
Coal Car A car for carrying coal, usually a hopper car.
COFC Container On Flat Car. See Piggyback.
Coke Rack A slatted frame or box applied above the sides and ends of gondola or hopper cars to increase the cubic capacity for the purpose of carrying coke or other freight in which the bulk is large relative to the weight.
Color Light Signal A fixed signal that conveys an indication by the color of a light, or lights only.
Color Position Light Signal A fixed signal that conveys an indication by the color and position of two or more lights. It consists of a cluster of lights normally displayed in pairs. For some indications, marker lights are displayed above, below, or to the side of the main cluster to qualify its meaning.
Combination Rate A rate made by combining two or more rates published in different tariffs.
Commodity Rate A rate applicable to a specific commodity between certain specified points.
Compartmentizer Car A box car equipped with movable bulkheads which can be used to divide the car into separate compartments.
Compartment Tank Car A tank car with the tank body divided into several sections for the purpose of carrying different commodities in each compartment or smaller shipments.
Comp Bar or
Compromise Bar
A set of rail joint bars that connects rail of two different sizes.
Concealed Damage Damage to the contents of a package which is in good order externally.
Conductor Train service employee in charge of train or yard crew. Also called Yard Foreman.
Conflicting Routes Two or more routes over which movements cannot be made simultaneously without possibility of collision.
Connecting Carrier A railroad which has a direct physical connection with another or forming a connecting link between two or more railroads.
Consignee Persons or firm to whom shipment is destined.
Consignee Marks A symbol placed on packages for export generally consisting of a square, triangle, diamond, circle, cross, etc., with designed letters and/or numbers for the purpose of identification.
Consignor Person or firm from whom shipment originates. Also called Shipper.
Consist The make-up of a freight train by types of cars and their contents.
Constructive Placement When, due to some disability on the part of the consignor or consignee, a car cannot be placed for loading or unloading, it is considered as being under Constructive Placement and is subject to demurrage rules and charges, the same as if it was actually placed.
Container Car A flat or open top car, such as a gondola, on which containers of freight are loaded.
Continuous Seals A term denoting that the seals on a car remained intact during the movement of the car from point of origin to destination; or, if broken transit, that it was done by proper authority and without opportunity for loss to occur before new seals were applied. Also see Seals.
Control Operator Employee in charge of a control point or a segment of controlled track.
Controlled Point A location where signals and/or switches of a traffic control system are operated and/or controlled from a distant location by a train dispatcher.
Controlled Siding A siding, the use of which is governed by signals under the control of a train dispatcher or operator.
Controlled Track A track upon which all movements must be authorized by a train dispatcher or operator.
Cornered A term used when a car has been struck by another car because it was not in the clear. See In The Clear.
Cornfield Meet Head-on collision between two trains using the same main track.
Coupler An appliance for connecting cars or locomotives together. Government regulations require that these must couple automatically by impact and must be uncoupled without going between the cars.
Coupler Centering Device An arrangement for maintaining the coupler normally in the center line of draft but allowing it to move to either side when a car is rounding a curve while coupled to another car.
Coupler Knuckle Locks The block which drops into position when the knuckle closes and holds it in place, preventing uncoupling.
Coupler Lock Lifter The part of the mechanism inside the coupler head which is moved by the uncoupling rod and, in moving, lifts the knuckle lock so that the knuckle can open.
Covered Gondolas Gondolas which have been equipped with some form of removable cover which can be placed over the lading to protect it from weather exposure in transit. Used primarily for loading sheet steel in coils without the necessity of packing.
Covered Hopper Car A hopper car with a permanent roof, roof hatches and bottom openings for unloading. Used for carrying cement and other bulk commodities.
CP See Constructive Placement or Controlled Point.
Crew General term used to describe the individuals working together as a unit, such as train crew.
Crib That portion of ballast between two adjacent ties.
Cripple See Bad Order.
Cross Tie The transverse member of the track structure to which the rails are spiked or fastened to provide proper gage and to cushion, distribute, and transmit the stresses of traffic through the ballast to the roadbed.
Crossing (Track) A structure used where one track crosses another at grade, and consisting of four connected frogs.
Crossover Two turnouts with track between, connecting two nearby and usually parallel tracks.
Crows Nest The cupola or box-like structure raised above the roof of a caboose from which a trainman may see along the train while it is in motion.
Crummy See Caboose.
Cubical Capacity The carrying capacity of a car according to measurement in cubic feet.
Cupola A small cabin built on the roof of a caboose to afford a means of lookout for the train crews.
Current Of Traffic The movement of trains on a track in a designated direction specified in the timetable.
Cushion Underframe A term commonly used to designate the framework of a railway car which is designed to prevent the shocks and impact stresses from damaging the car structure or its lading. The principle involved is the application of a center sill member which is detached and permitted to travel longitudinally in either direction through the bolsters, hydraulically resisted and controlled by high capacity cushion gears located within the center sills.
Cut 1. To uncouple a car.
2. A group of cars coupled together.
3. That part of the right-of-way which is excavated out of a hill or mountain instead of running up over it or being tunneled through it.
Cutout Cock (Air Brake) A valve which, when closed, will bypass or cut out the brake system for that car. The closing of this valve does not interfere with the operation of the brakes on the other cars in the train.
Cut The Board To reduce the number of men on the extra board. See Extra Board.
Damage Free Car Car equipped with special bracing devices to decrease the possibility of damage to lading. Usually called a DF car.
Dead Heading Traveling from one point to another by an employee who has received orders for such travel from his supervisor. The employee performs no service in such travel status, and he/she is paid for his/her time while in travel at an hourly "dead head" rate.
Dead Rail A second set of tracks over a scale used when cars are not being weighed.
Deadhead 1. Fireman's term for brakeman.
2. Employee riding on company pass or on company business.
3. Train and/or engine crew moved without performing service, from one terminal to another at railroad convenience and for which they are paid.
Deadman A buried timber, log or beam designed as an anchorage to which a guy wire or cable is fastened to support a structure, as a wood or steel column, derrick or mast.
Deadman Control A foot pedal or brake valve which must be kept in a depressed position while the locomotive is operating. A release from this depressed position initiates an air brake application after a short time delay.
Deck Floor of locomotive cab or cars.
Defect Card Receptacle A small metal container, placed underneath the car for protection from the weather, in which defect cards are placed.
Delivering Carrier The railroad which delivers a shipment to the consignee.
Demurrage A penalty charge assessed by railroads for detention of cars by shippers or receivers beyond a specified free time.
Depressed Center Flat Car A flat car with the section of floor between the trucks depressed to permit loading of high shipments within overhead clearance limits. Also called a well flat.
Derail A track safety device designed to guide a car off the rails at a selected spot as a means of protection against collisions or another accidents; commonly used on spurs or sidings to prevent cars from fouling the main line.
Destination The place to which a shipment is consigned.
Detainer Train dispatcher.
DF Car See Damage Free Car.
Diamond See Crossing.
Diesel Internal combustion engine or locomotive.
Diesel Electric Locomotive A locomotive in which one or more diesel engines drive electric generators which in turn supply electric motors (usually series D.C.) which are geared to the driving axles.
Dinky A small engine used around roundhouse or backshops for switching.
Distant Signal A fixed signal outside a block system that governs the approach to a block signal, interlocking tower, or switch point indicator. A distant signal does not indicate conditions that affect track use between the distant signal and block or interlocking signals. A distant signal may be identified by a "D".
District A portion of the railroad designated by timetable.
Division 1. A geographical unit of operation in charge of a superintendent under whose direction the three essential functions coming under "operations" are carried out. These functions are the maintenance of way and structures, maintenance of equipment, and transportation of freight and passengers.
2. The apportionment, by carriers, of revenue received from joint traffic.
Dog Chase A relief crew that went out to bring in a train which cannot be legally moved by its own crew.
Doll A blue signal displayed to the side of another signal indicating there is one track between the signal and the track governed by the signal.
Double 1. Two consecutive tours of duty.
2. Putting train together when part of train is on one track and balance on another.
3. Taking train over steep grade in two sections.
Double Deck (Stock Car) A car with a second floor (often made removable) half way between the ordinary floor and the roof, to increase the carrying capacity of the car for small livestock, such as pigs and sheep.
Double Track Two main tracks, one of which the trains run in one direction and the other in the opposite direction.
Dozer Bulldozer operator.
Draft Gear The unit which forms the connection between the coupler rigging and the center sill. The purpose of this unit is to receive shocks incidental to train movements and coupling of cars, and so cushion the force of impact.
Drag 1. A heavy train, usually coal, ore or stone.
2. Group of cars for movement from one point to another within a terminal.
3. Train of empties.
Drawbar A term used synonymously with coupler. See Coupler.
Drawhead The head of an automatic coupler, exclusive of the knuckle, knuckle pin and lock.
Drill Track A track connecting with the ladder track, over which engines and cars move back and forth in switching.
Drilling (Car) The handling or switching of cars in freight yards.
Drop Switching movement in which cars are cut off from an engine and allowed to roll free into a track.
Drop Bottom Car A gondola car with a level floor equipped with a number of drop doors for discharging the load.
Drop Brake Shaft A brake shaft for flat cars which normally extends above the floor, but can be dropped down should conditions of the lading require.
Drop End Gondola Car A gondola car with end doors which can be dropped down when the car is used for shipping long material which extends over more than one car.
Dual Control Switch A power operated switch or derail that can also be operated by hand.
Dump Car A car from which the load is discharged either through doors or by tipping the car body.
Dunnage The material used to protect or support freight in or on cars, such as bracings, false floor, meat racks, etc.
Dwarf Signal A low interlocking or block signal.
Dynamic Braking A means of braking a locomotive or car having electric motors by using the motors as generators and dissipating this power through resistors. It may be used to control train speed and to brake a train to a low speed after which air brakes bring it to a full stop.
Easy Sign A hand signal indicating the train is to move slowly.
Electrically Locked Switch A hand operated switch equipped with an electrically controlled device which restricts the movement of the switch.
Electric Locomotive A locomotive which receives electric power from an overhead contact wire or third rail and uses the power to drive electric motors connected by gears to the driving axles.
Electric Switch Lock An electrically controlled lock that restricts the use of a hand operated switch or derail.
Embargo An order prohibiting the acceptance and/or handling of freight at certain points or via certain routes due to emergencies, congestion, strikes, etc.
Emergency Application A quick heavy reduction of brake pipe pressure made when a train must be stopped in the minimum distance possible. An emergency application may also occur when a brake pipe is broken, or when air hoses between cars are disconnected with angle cocks open.
Emergency Brake Valve A valve for applying the train brakes in emergency. It is connected to the brake pipe by a branch pipe and operated by releasing brake pipe air to the atmosphere.
Emergency Rate (Freight) A rate established to meet some immediate and pressing need, and without due regard to the usual rate factors.
Emergency Reservoir A part of the AB air brake system to provide quick recharge, graduate release and high emergency cylinder pressure. It supplements the supply from the auxiliary reservoir.
Empty Car Bill Waybill used to move ordinary empty cars from one station to another.
End Door A door in the end of a car. In some box cars this door is used for loading and unloading long material which cannot be handled through the side door. Sometimes called lumber door.
Engine A unit propelled by any form of energy or a combination of such units operated from a single control, used in train or yard service.
Engineman The driver or operator of a locomotive. Also called engineer.
Engineer's Brake Valve (Air Brake) A brake valve in the locomotive used for operating the brakes of the train.
En Route On the way.
Exceptions To Classification A publication containing classification ratings (a percentage of first class) and rules different (usually lower) from the classification ratings and rules shown in the uniform freight classification. See Uniform Freight Classification.
Exchange Bill Of Lading A bill of lading issued in exchange for another bill of lading.
Expense Bill See Freight Bill.
Expiration Notice A notice in a tariff that all or some part of it will expire at a stated time.
Export To send goods to a foreign country.
Export Rate A rate published on traffic moving from an interior point to a port for trans-shipment to a foreign country.
Extra Board A list of employees who may be assigned to train crews (1) when extra trains are run, (2) when regular crews have not had sufficient rest time before they can legally be required to return to duty, or (3) when relief men are required on regular crews.
Extra Gang The crew of track laborers assigned to maintenance work at various points on a railroad right-of-way. These employees may live in camp (bunk) cars where they are provided lodging and meals at a nominal cost.
Extra Train A train not included in a timetable schedule.
Fabrication In Transit The stopping of steel products at a point located between the points of origin and destination for further process of manufacture. For example, steel beams to be fabricated as bridge girders.
Facing Movement The movement of a train over the points of a switch which face in a direction opposite to that in which the train is moving.
Feeding In Transit The stopping of shipments of live stock, etc., at a point located between the points of origin and destination to be fed and watered.
Fifth Wheel The supporting plate and pivot at the forward end of a truck trailer.
Fire knocker Fireman on steam locomotive.
Fireman An individual employed to tend the fire for running a steam engine.
Fish Plate See Angle Bar.
Fixed Signal A signal of fixed location indication a condition affecting the movement of a train or engine.
Flag 1. Brakeman sent out to protect the ends of a train making an unscheduled stop.
2. A non-lighted signaling device.
3. An assumed name.
Flag Station A station at which trains only stop when signaled.
Flagman Usually, the brakeman assigned to duties at the rear end of the train.
Flammable Commodity which can be easily ignited.
Flange (Car Wheel) A projecting edge or rim on the circumference of the wheel to keep it on the rail.
Flare See Fusee.
Flat Car An open car without sides, ends or top, used principally for hauling lumber, stone, heavy machinery, etc.
Flat Wheel A car wheel that has flat spots on the tread.
Floatage 1. The floating or transfer of railroad cars across water.
2. Also the charge for such service.
Float Bridge A bridge connecting car floats with rail landings.
Floating Load A load in which the lading is prepared as a unit with space between unit and ends of car and end blocking omitted. The lengthwise movement of the lading over the floor of the car permits dissipating the impact of shocks.
Flying Switch or Drop Switching technique in which cars are cut off from behind a moving locomotive and the switch opened after the engine has passed.
Foreign Car A car belonging to a railroad other than that on which it is being run.
Foul To obstruct or interfere with the movement of railroad cars or engines.
Free Time The time allowed by the carriers for the loading or unloading of freight after which demurrage or detention charges will accrue.
Freight Agent Railroad's representative with the public who prices services performed based on approved tariffs.
Freight Bill Statement given customer of charges for transportation. Information is taken from waybill.
Freight Classification See Classification and also Uniform Freight Classification.
Freight Charge The charge assessed for transporting freight.
Freight Claim A demand upon a carrier for the payment of overcharge, loss or damage sustained by shipper or consignee.
Freight Forwarder A person engaged in the business of shipping and distributing less than carload freight.
Freight House The station facility of a transportation line for receiving and delivering freight.
Frog 1. A track structure used at the intersection of two running rails to provide support for wheels and passageways for their flanges, thus permitting wheels on either rail to cross to the other..
2. An implement for rerailing car wheels.
Full Service Application An application of the brakes resulting from a reduction in brake pipe pressure at a service rate until maximum brake cylinder pressure is developed.
Fusee Combustible torches which burn (usually red) for ten to fifteen minutes as warning signals to other trains when touched off and placed or thrown on the ground by train service employees.
Gage Of Track The distance between the heads of the rails, measured at a point 5/8 inch below the top of the rails. Standard ghage is 4 feet, 8 inches. See Broad Gage and Narrow Gage.
Gandy Dancer A track laborer.
Gate Switch
Gateway A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between railroads.
Gauntlet A third set of rails placed in between two other sets of rails to carry wide loads through tunnels.
General Service Car Box, gondola, or flat car not designed for a specific commodity or shipper, without special equipment.
Go High To climb on the top of freight cars for purposes of signaling or setting brakes.
Goat A yard switch engine.
Gondola Car A freight car with sides and ends, but without a top covering. Gondola cars are sometimes distinguished as high side, low side, drop end, drop bottom and general service.
Grab Iron Steel bar attached to cars and engines as a hand hold.
Gradient (Brake Pipe) The difference in brake pipe pressure between the front and the rear of the train. It is the direct result of leakage or train line obstruction.
Grain Door A partition placed across the door of a box car to prevent loss of grain by leaking.
Grease Monkey An employee who is responsible for greasing frogs, switches and interlocking track equipment. Also a car oiler.
Griever A representative of the union who consults with railroad officials in connection with complaints made by employees.
Gross Ton 2,240 pounds.
Gross Ton-Mile The movement of a ton of transportation equipment and contents a distance of one mile.
Gross Weight 1. The weight of an article together with the weight of its container and the material used for packing.
2. As applied to a carload, the weight of a car together with the weight of its contents.
Gumshoe A railroad detective.
Gun 1. A torpedo placed on a rail which will act as a signal warning when it is detonated by a train crossing over it.
2. The injector of a locomotive.
Hack See Caboose
Ham A student telegrapher.
Hand Brake The brake apparatus used to manually apply the brakes on a car or locomotive.
Harmonic Rock A condition that may occur on jointed rail between 13 and 19 miles per hour in which the cars begin swaying sideways and may cause derailments.
Head End Beginning or forward portion of any train.
Head Man The brakeman who rides in the locomotive cab and is responsible for work done in connection with the forward section of the train..
Head Pin See Head Man.
Header Beginning or identifying portion of any list or consist.
Heat Kink See Sun Kink.
Heater (Switch) A device for melting snow at switches by means of steam, an electric current, gas jets or oil.
Heater Car An insulated box car equipped with heating apparatus for the protection of perishables.
Helper One or more engines added to a train to assist in moving the train over steep grades.
Hi-Cube Car Originally a box car of approximately 85 ft. length and 10,000 cu. ft. capacity designed for hauling automobile body stampings and other low density freight. The term has become frequently used to describe any box car of excess height.
Highball 1. Signal given to proceed to at maximum authorized speed.
2. Fixed signal consisting of two round balls, one red, the other white. A highball is when the white ball is raised to the top indicating the train may proceed.
High Iron Main line or high speed track of a system of main line tracks.
High Rail 1. A vehicle that can be driven on the highway or railroad. Also known as Hi-rail and Hy-rail.
2. The outer or elevated rail of a curved track.
High Side Gondola Car A gondola car with sides and ends over 36 inches high.
Hog Locomotive.
Hogger, Hog Head Locomotive engineer.
Hog Law The federal stature which provides that all train and engine crews must be relieved of duty after 12 hours of continuous service.
Hold Track A track on which cars are held awaiting disposition.
Hole Side track on a single track line which permits another train to pass.
Home A location where the car is on the tracks of its owner.
Home Car A car on the tracks of its owner.
Home Junction A junction with the home road.
Home Road The owning road of a railroad car.
Home Route The return route of a foreign empty car to the owning road.
Home Signal A fixed signal at the entrance to an interlocking block to govern trains or engines entering and using that block. See Absolute Signal.
Hook A crane used in wreck train service. Also called Big Hook or Wrecker.
Hopper An open top car with hinged trap doors and inclined floors which permits quick unloading of bulk commodities.
Horsepower A term used as a measure of power. One horsepower is equivalent to a force that will raise 33,000 pounds one foot in a minute.
Hostler A fireman who operates light engines in designated enginehouse territory and works under  the direction of the enginehouse foreman.
Hostler's Control A simplified throttle provided to move the B unit of a diesel locomotive not equipped with a regular engineer's control.
Hot Box Overheated wheel journal or wheel bearing caused by excess friction between bearing and journal, lack of lubricant, or foreign matter which usually causes journal packing to burn and smoke.
Hot Box Detector A wayside infrared sensing instrument for determining journal temperatures.
Hump The inclined track  in a hump yard. See Hump Yard.
Hump Yard A switching yard on an incline where, after movements by the engine, the cars are shunted by gravitational pull to their destination in a yard.
Ice Bunker (Refrigerated Car) The compartment in which the ice is placed
Icing Charge A charge made for icing perishable freight.
Idler Car An unloaded flat car used to protecting overhanging loads on an adjacent car.
Impact Register An appliance placed in a car with a shipment which is both a time clock and a measuring device to record the amount of shock the car received enroute.
Import To receive goods from a foreign country.
In Bond Shipment An import or export shipment which has not been cleared by Federal customs officials.
In The Clear When a train has passed over a switch and frog so far that another can pass it without damage, it is in the clear.
In The Hole In a siding.
Inbound Train A train arriving at a yard or terminal.
Independent Brake Valve (Air Brake) A brake valve for operating the locomotive brakes independently of the train brakes.
Indication The information conveyed by the aspect of a signal.
Industrial Carrier A short railroad line owned or controlled by one or more of the principal industries served by it. Also called Industrial Line or Industrial Road.
Inflammable Liquids Liquids that give off vapors which become combustible at a certain temperature.
Initial Carrier The railroad on which a shipment originates.
Initial Point The location at which a shipment originates.
Inland Carrier A transportation line which hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.
Insulated Rail Joint A rail joint which arrests the flow of electric current form rail to rail as at the end of a track circuit, by means of nonconductors separating rail ends and other metal parts.
Inter Between
Interchange The exchange of cars between railroads at specified junction points.
Interchange Point The location where cars are transferred from on road to another.
Interchange Track A track on which various cars are delivered or received from one railroad to another.
Interline Between one or more railroads.
Interline Freight Freight moving from point of origin to destination over the lines of two or more railroads.
Interline Waybill A waybill covering the movement of freight over two or more railroads.
Interlocker See Interlocking.
Interlocking An arrangement of signals and switches 'interlocked' in such a way that their movements must succeed each other in a predetermined order so that a clear indication cannot be given simultaneously on conflicting routes. They are found at a crossing of two railroads, a drawbridge, junction, or entering or leaving a terminal or yard.
Interlocking Limits The tracks between the extreme opposing home signals of an interlocking.
Interlocking Signals The fixed signals of an interlocking that govern trains using the interlocking limits.
Intermediate Carrier A railroad over which a shipment moves but on which neither the point of origin nor destination is located.
Intermediate Clause A clause or basis contained in a tariff to provide for rates to a point not named therein but which is intermediate to points that are named.
Intermediate Point A location between two other points specifically names.
Interstate Commerce Act An act of Congress regulating the practices, rates and rules of transportation lines engaged in the handling interstate traffic.
Interstate Traffic Traffic moving from a point in one State to a point in another State or between points in the same State, but passing within or through another State enroute.
Intra Within
Intra-Plant Switching The moving of cars from one track to another within a plant
Ivory Tower The main control room where the Train Movement Director or Yard Master is based.
Jack Locomotive
Jam Buster Assistant yardmaster.
Janney To couple.
Join The Birds To jump from a moving train when collision is imminent.
Joint 1. The connection where two rails are joined together.
2. To "ride to a joint" is to bring cars together so that they are coupled.
3. A railroad rail, usually 39 feet in length.
Joint Authority A method of authorizing men or machines to occupy or perform maintenance on a main track or siding within specified limits.
Juggler Brakeman who must load and unload less than carload lots at way stations.
Katy The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad.
Keeley A small tank containing water which is hung on the side of a car and attached by a hose to the journal box when there is a hotbox.
Kettle Locomotive. Taken from "Watt's teakettle."
Kick To uncouple a car or cars while in motion, allowing them to roll to a stop.
Kicker Triple valve in defective order which throws airbrakes into emergency when service application is intended.
King Yardmaster or freight conductor.
King Pin Another name for a conductor.
Kitchen Car Caboose. Sometimes it is equipped for light housekeeping and used by the crew on the foreign end of their run.
Knee Brace A stiffening piece used to reinforce two members of a structure that meet at right angles.
Knuckle The pivoting hook like casting that fits into the head of a coupler and rotates about a vertical pin to either the open position (to engage a mating coupler) or to the closed position (when fully engaged).
Knuckle Pin (Coupler) The pin holding the knuckle in the jaws of the coupler. Sometimes called pivot pin.
Knuckle Thrower A device which throws the knuckle of a car coupler open when the uncoupling lever is operated.
Ladder The main track of a yard from which individual tracks lead off. This track is also called a lead track.
Lading Freight or cargo making up a shipment.
Latch (Switch Stand) A device for catching and holding the lever of a switch stand in position. Also called a switch keeper.
Lateral Motion The motion, crosswise of the track, of all car parts except the wheels and axles. This lateral motion, or end play, results from the flexibility which must be provided in truck structure in order to permit easy and safe negotiation of track curves
Lawful Rate A rate published in conformity with the provisions of regulatory law and which does not violate any other provisions of such law.
L.C.L. See Less Than Carload Lot.
Lead Track An extended track connecting either end of a yard with main track.
Less Than Carload Lot The quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a carload rate.
Less Than Carload Rate A rate applicable to a less than carload shipment.
Light Engine An engine moving without caboose or cars attached.
Lighter A flat bottomed boat usually used in inland waterways.
Lighterage Limits The limits of the area within which freight is handled by lighters or barges under certain lightering charges, rules and regulations.
Lightering The hauling of freight on lighters or barges.
Light Weight The weight of any empty freight car.
Limited Speed Not exceeding 45 or 60 miles per hour as designated by the operating railroad.
Line Haul The movement of freight over the tracks of a railroad from one town or city to another town or city (not a switching service).
Lining Bar Metal bar approximately five feet long with a wedge point on one end used in track work.
Livestock Car A special freight car for handling or livestock.
Load Limit The maximum load in pounds which the car is designed to carry.
Local Rate A rate applying between stations located on the same railroad.
Local Waybill A waybill covering the movement of freight over a single railroad.
Locomotive See Engine
Long and Short Clause The fourth section of the Interstate Commerce Act prohibits railroads from charging more for a shorter than a longer haul over the same route, except by special permission of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Long Ton 2,240 pounds. Also called gross ton.
Lookout (Caboose) See Cupola
Lorry A small four-wheel push car used in railroad construction and maintenance work for moving rails, ties, etc.
Low Rail The inner rail of a curve which is maintained at grade while the opposite or outer rail is elevated.
Low Side Gondola A gondola car with sides and ends 36 inches high or less.
Main Iron Slang for main track.
Main Line That part of a railroad exclusive of switch tracks, branches, yards and terminals.
Main Reservoir (Air Brake) A tank on an engine for storing the main air supply. So called in distinction from the auxiliary reservoirs under each car.
Main Track A designated track upon which trains are operated by timetable, train order, or both, or the use of which is governed by block signals.
Make A Joint To couple cars.
Manifest 1. Fast freight usually made up of merchandise, perishables or livestock.
2. A description of the contents of a shipment.
Manual Block Signal System A block signal system wherein the use of each block is governed by block signals controlled manually.
Manual Interlocking An interlocking operated manually.
Marked Capacity The carrying capacity of a car as marked or stenciled on the car.
Marker Front and rear signals of a train (flags or lamps).
Marking Off 1. Reporting as not available for work.
2. The act of filling out the employee's time slip with the time released from duty.
Marking Up Reporting as available for duty.
Maximum Rate The highest rate that may be charged.
ME Maintenance of Equipment Department
Meat Rack (Refrigerator Car) The supports near the ceiling from which meat is suspended. Also called Beef Rail.
Mechanical Refrigerator Car A car equipped with a diesel powered refrigerating unit under thermostatic control.
Medium Speed Not exceeding either 30 or 40 miles per hour, as defined by the particular railroad being operated on.
Memorandum Bill Of Lading The duplicate copy of a bill of lading.
Memo Waybill Memorandum waybill. A waybill used then the agent does not have sufficient information to determine the freight charges. It contains adequate information to enable yards to properly handle the car.
Men Railroad employees, either male or female.
Merchandise Car A car containing several less than carload shipments.
Mileage Allowance An allowance based on distance made by railroads to owners of privately owned freight cars.
Mileage Rate Rates applicable according to distance.
Milling In Transit The stopping of grain, lumber, etc., at a point located between the points of origin and destination for the purpose of milling.
Minimum Charge The least charge for which a shipment will be handled.
Minimum Rate The lowest rate that may be charged.
Minimum Weight The least weight at which a shipment is handled at a carload rate.
Mixed Carload A carload of different articles in a single consignment.
Mixed Carload Rate A rate applicable to a carload of different articles in a single consignment.
Motor Car A motor-driven railway inspection or work car which rides on the rails and is operated by maintenance of way employees to minimize time spent traveling while on duty.
MOW Maintenance of Way.
Mud Hop A yard clerk; a car checker who maintains a listing of freight cars on arriving and departing trains.
Mud Hen A surveyor.
Multiple Main Tracks Two or more main tracks that are used according to the timetable.
MW Maintenance of Way Department
MP Motive Power Department
Narrow Gage (Track) When the distance between the heads of the rails is less than 4 feet 8 inches. See Broad Gage, Standard Gage and Gage of Track.
Nested Packed one within another.
Net Ton 2,000 pounds.
Net Ton-Mile The movement of a ton of freight one mile.
Net Weight 1. The weight of an article clear of packing and container.
2. As applied to a carload, the weight of the entire contents of the car.
No Bill 1. A worker who refuses to join the union, particularly train or enginemen.
2. A worker who is thought of as not being productive while working.
Non-Agency Station A station which does not have an agent. Also called a closed station.
Normal Speed The maximum authorized speed shown in the timetable.
Office Car Car used by railway officials while traveling.
On The Ground On the ties, not on the rails, as a derailed train.
Opposing Signals Signals which govern movements in opposite directions on the same track.
Orders Train orders transmitted to an operator from a dispatcher, delivered to the conductor for himself and crew.
Package Car A car containing several less than carload shipments
Package Freight Merchandise shipped in less than carload quantities.
Pallet A small portable platform for holding material for storage or transportation.
Pantograph A device located on top of electric equipment which collects power from an overhead contact wire by means of a sliding contact shoe.
Paper Rate A published rate under which no traffic moves.
Participating Carrier (Tariff) A railroad which is a party, under concurrence, to a tariff issued by another railroad or by a tariff publishing agent.
Pawl (Brake Wheel) A pivoted bar adapted to fall into the notches or teeth of a wheel as it rotates in one direction, and to restrain it from backward motion. See Ratchet and Brake Ratchet.
P.D. Car Permanent Dunnage Car. A boxcar equipped with dunnage.
Peddler Local way freight.
Per Diem A charge made by one transportation line against another for the use of its cars. The charge is based on a fixed rate per day.
Per Diem Reclaim A method of recouping Per Diem payments.
Perishable Commodities easily spoiled or damaged because of weather or delay in transit. Usually describing food stuffs.
Piggy Back The transportation of truck trailer and containers on railroad flat cars.
Pilot An employee assigned to a train when the engineman or driver of a track car is not qualified on the physical characteristics or rules of the railroad.
Pin Puller A trainman who uncouples cars while switching by lifting the coupler pin with the uncoupling leaver located on each end of a car.
Piston Travel (Air Brake) The amount of piston movement when forced outward as the brakes are applied.
Pivot Pin (Coupler) Another name for the Knuckle Pin. It is so called from the fact that the knuckle, when opening, swings about the pin as a pivot. See Coupler.
Placard Paper forms of various designs used to identify cars requiring special attention; e.g., dangerous and explosives.
Plug Door A door on refrigerator or boxcars which is flush with side of car when closed. to open, it is swung out and rolled to one side. Also call sliding flush door.
Point of Origin The station at which a shipment is received by the railroad from the shipper.
Pool Car Specially equipped cars of different ownerships assigned to a specific company or location.
Port Of Entry A port at which foreign goods are admitted into the receiving country.
Power Switch A remotely controlled switch.
Prepaid A term denoting that transportation charges have been or are to be paid at the point of shipment.
Prepay Pay before or in advance.
Prepay Station A station to which the transportation charges on shipments must be prepaid - generally a non-agency station.
Private Car A car having other than railroad ownership.
Private Siding A side track owned or leased by an individual or firm.
Pro Number Pro. is the abbreviation of the word progressive. A pro number is usually applied by the Agent on freight bills, waybills, etc. for control purposes as part of the accounting procedure.
Proportional Rate A rate specifically published to be used only as a factor in making a combination through rate. A rate published from New York to Chicago to apply only on traffic destined to points beyond Chicago would be a proportional rate.
Public Service Commission A name usually given to a State body having control or, or regulating public utilities.
Publishing Agent A person authorized by transportation lines to publish tariffs of rates, rules and regulations for their account.
Pull The Pin 1. Uncouple a car by pulling up the coupling pin.
2. An expression meaning to resign or leave a job.
Pulpwood Car See Wood Rack Car.
Push Car A small maintenance of way car without a motor that is pulled by a motorcar or pushed by hand.
Pusher 1. Team leader responsible for seeing that work gets done on schedule
2. A locomotive used to help trains up steep grades by pushing from behind.
Put it on the ground Derail
Radio Controlled Engine An unmanned engine situated within the train consist, separated by cars from the lead unit, but controlled from it by radio signals.
Rail A length of track, usually 39 feet long. Also see Track.
Rail Bond An electrical conductor for bridging joints between rails for the purpose of carrying electrical current as part of a track circuit.
Rail Joint A fastening designed to unite abutting ends of rails.
Rail Stop See Car Stop.
Rail Tong Clamp used to lift or move sections of railroad rail. Depending on the design, it may be used either manually by two or more men or by a crane.
Railway Labor Act A Federal Act providing for adjustment of disputes between railroads and employees.
Ran a Red Block Enter a circuit without clearance from the control tower or dispatcher.
Ratchet A serrated edge like that of a saw, sometimes straight and sometimes on a wheel, into which a pawl engages, for producing or (more commonly) restraining motion. See Brake Ratchet and Pawl.
Rate Scale A table of rates graduated according to distance or zones.
Rear Of A Signal The side of the signal from which the indication is received.
Receiving Track A track used for arriving trains.
Reclaim See Per Diem Reclaim.
Reconsignment A service extended by the railroad to the owner of the freight (shipper, consignee) permitting a change to the waybill in the name of the shipper, consignee, destination, route or other instructions to effect delivery of the car providing no back haul is involved.
Red Ball A fast freight train.
Red Board A fixed signal to stop. Also see Board.
Reduced Speed A speed that will permit stopping short of a train or obstruction.
Reefer A refrigerator car, sometimes known as a freezer.
Refining In Transit The stopping of shipments of sugar, oil, etc., at a point located between the points of origin and destination to be refined.
Refrigerator Charge A fixed charge for refrigeration from shipping point to destination or for a portion of the trip.
Refrigerator Car A car with insulated walls, floor and roof, for carrying commodities that need cooling in transit. There are two major types: those which depend upon ice or ice and salt for cooling and those which are cooled by mechanical refrigerating equipment. See Mechanical Refrigeration.
Register Station A station at which a train register is located.
Regular Train A train authorized by a timetable schedule.
Release Cock See Release Valve
Release Rod A small iron rod generally located at the side of a car for the purpose of operating the air brake release valve.
Release Valve (Air Brake) A valve attached to the auxiliary reservoir for reducing the air pressure when the locomotive is detached so as to release the brakes.
Remote Unit See Radio Controlled Engine.
Repair Track A track used for car repairs.
Rerailer A device that straddles a railroad rail to assist it putting derailed cars back on the track. The derailed wheel is rolled onto the rerailer which guides the wheel back onto the track. Also called a Rerail Frog.
Reservoir (Air Brake) A cylindrical container for the storage of air under pressure. Main reservoirs of large capacity are located in locomotives and under all motor cars having air compressors; auxiliary and emergency reservoirs are located under the cars.
Restricted Speed A speed that will permit stopping with one-half the range of vision, looking out for train, obstruction, switch not properly lined or broken rail, but not exceeding either 15 or 20 miles per hour as defined by the operating railroad.
Retaining Valve A small manually positioned valve located near the brake wheel for retaining part of the brake cylinder pressure, to aid in retarding the acceleration of a train in descending long grades.
Retarder A metal grip adjacent to the rails, usually operated by compressed air or electric motors, for regulating speed of a car by pressure on the wheels while rolling down a hump incline.
Retarder Yard A switching yard in which the movement of cars, after they are released from a locomotive, are controlled by an employee in a control tower.
Revenue Waybill A waybill showing the amount of charges due on a shipment.
Reverse Lever The lever which controls the direction of motion of the locomotive by reversing the traction motor field connections.
Reverse Movement A movement opposite the authorized direction.
Ribbon Rail See Welded Rail.
Right-Of-Way The property owned by a railroad over which tracks have been laid.
Rip Repair In Progress. Car in need of repair.
Rip Track A Repair Track used for minor repairs of cars.
Road Bed The foundation on which the rails and ties of a railroad are placed.
Road Haul See Line Haul.
Roadway See Right-Of-Way.
Roadway Worker Any employee of a railroad or of a contractor to a railroad, whose duties include and who is engaged in the inspection, construction, maintenance, or repair of railroad track, bridges, roadway, signal and communication systems, roadway facilities, or roadway machinery on or near the track or with the potential of fouling a track.
Roll By Making a check of cars as they pass.
Roller Bearing The general term applied to a group of journal bearings which depend upon the action of a set of rollers, in order to reduce rotational friction.
Roundhouse A building, usually circular in design,  in which locomotives and other railroad equipment are inspected, cleaned, repaired and serviced.
Route 1. The course or direction that a shipment moves.
2. To designate the course or direction a shipment shall move.
Rule Book Set of rules which govern the standard procedure by which employees are required to perform their assigned duties.
Rule G Railroad work rule against the use of intoxicants or narcotics while on duty.
Rump Rail A side slat on a single deck stock car made heavier than the usual slats. It is placed about four feet above the floor to resist movement of cattle against the car sides.
Run-Around 1. If an employee is not called for work in turn, he/she may claim pay for the run which he/she missed. In such cases, it is said he has been given a "run-around."
2. To move the engine(s) from one end of a train to the other.
Running Gear A general term applied to and including the wheels, axles, springs, axle boxes, frames and other carrying parts of a truck or locomotive.
Running Track 1. A track designated in the timetable upon which movements may be made subject to prescribed signals and rules, or special instructions.
2. A track reserved for movement through a yard.
Sanders Devices operated by air for applying sand to the rail in front of or behind the driving wheels of the engine.
Scale House Structure erected to house weight recording mechanism used in weighing freight cars.
Scale Test Car A compact car equipped with weights for testing of track scales.
Scale Track A storage track for cars needing to be weighed.
Schedule That part of a timetable which prescribes class, direction, number, and movement for a regular train.
Seals Metal strips, designed for one-time use, applied to the hasp of closed freight car doors. To remove, they must be broken. They are used to indicate whether or not the contents have been tampered with while in transit. They are stamped with a name, initial and/or number for identification.
Secondary Track A designated track upon which trains or engines by be operated without timetable authority, train orders or block signals.
Section One of two or more trains running on the same schedule displaying signals or for which signals are displayed.
Self Aligning Coupler A coupler which has a taper shank rather than a straight shank to prevent jackknifing of cars.
Seniority 1. The rights of passenger trains over freight   and of express trains over locals.
2. The right of way in one direction on a single track line.
3. The common meaning of length of service of an employee.
Service Application A reduction of air pressure in the brake pipe at a rate that will produce an application of the locomotive and train brakes and a gradual speed reduction.
Set-Up A term denoting that an article is put together in its complete state, not knocked down.
Shanty 1. Small building erected along right of way to provide shelter.
2. See Caboose.
Shells See Rerailer.
Shifting See Switching.
Shipment In Bond See In Bond Shipment.
Shipper Person or firm from which shipment originates. Also called consignor.
Shipper's Export Declaration A form required by the Treasury Department and filled out by a shipper showing the value, weight, consignee, destination, etc., of shipments to be exported.
Shipper's Load And Count A term denoting that the contents of a car were loaded and counted by the shipper and not checked or verified by the railroad.
Shipping Order Shipping instructions to the railroad for forwarding all goods; usually the second copy of the bill of lading.
Shop Term applied to structure where building and repairing railroad equipment is performed, e.g., cars, locomotives, etc.
Short Of Destination Before reaching final destination.
Short Ton 2,000 pounds.
Side Bay Caboose A caboose car having side bay windows instead of a cupola This permits the train crew to look along the side of a train, especially when rounding curves, for detection of hot boxes or other trouble.
Side Track A track adjacent to the main track for purposes other than for meeting and passing trains.
Siding An auxiliary track along the main line which is used to permit other trains to pass. (See Hole.)
Signal Aspect See Aspect.
Signal Indication The action required by a signal aspect.
Signboard Information stenciled on side of car pertaining to empty car movement instructions.
Sill (Car) The main longitudinal members of a car underframe.
Single Track A main track upon which trains are operated in both directions.
Skate A metal skid placed on rail to stop cars from rolling.
Skew Bridge A bridge which crosses a passageway at other than a right angle.
Skipper Conductor.
Slave Unit See Radio Controlled Engine.
Slow Board A signal indication to proceed at slow speed. See Board.
Slow Speed A speed not exceeding 15 or 20 miles per hour, as defined by the operating railroad..
Snake A railroad switchman.
Snipe Track laborer (section laborer).
Solid Track Track full of cars.
Special Equipment Freight cars designed to carry specific commodities, some of which contain devices to protect and/or aid in handling shipments.
Sperry Car Railroad car used by Sperry Rail Service to detect weakened or cracked rails.
Spike See Track Spike.
Splice Bar See Joint Bar.
Spot To place a car in a designated position or specific location, usually for loading or unloading, such as at a warehouse door.
Spot For Air To position cars in the yard so as to utilize a central compressed air supply to charge the brake system.
Spot System A system in which cars and locomotives undergoing repairs are classified and then moved progressively from one spot to another. At each spot different items of work are done by a unit force.
Spotting (Cars) Switching freight cars to a specified location for loading and unloading.
Spring Switch A switch equipped with a spring mechanism arranged to restore the switch points to normal position after having been trailed through.
Spur Track A stub track extending out from a main or other track.
Standard Gage A distance of 4 feet 8 inches between the heads of the rails. See Broad Gage, Narrow Gage and Gage of Track.
Standard Rate A rate established via direct routes from one point to another.
Standard Route The line or lines which maintain standard rates.
Station A place designated in the timetable by name.
Stock Car A car for the transportation of live stock, equipped with slatted sides, single or double deck, and sometimes with feed and water troughs.
Stopping In Transit The holding of a shipment by the carrier on order of the owner after the transportation movement has started and before it is completed.
Storage In Transit The stopping of freight at a point located between the point of origin and destination, to be stored and forwarded at a later date.
Storage Track A track on which cars are placed when not in service.
String Two or more freight cars coupled together, as a string of cars.
Stub Track A track connected at one end only.
Subdivision A portion of the railroad designated by timetable.
Sun Kink A condition in which high temperatures cause the rail to over expand and push the tracks sideways. Such conditions could cause a derailment.
Superior Train A train having precedence over another train.
Superintendent A chief executive officer, who supervises and directs operations over an entire division. He is responsible for the supply and maintenance of rolling stock, equipment, the right of way, and for the prompt handling of traffic.
Supplement (Tariff) A publication containing additions to and/or changes in a tariff.
Swing A brakeman who has responsibility for breaking up the train by setting out cars or sections of cars in the center position of a freight train.
Switch 1. A connection between two lines of track to permit cars or trains to pass from one track to the other track.
2. To move cars from one place to another within a defined territory such as an industry, a yard, or a terminal.
Switch Back Track constructed in a series of zigzag curves in mountainous terrain to reduce rate of climb or descent.
Switch Engine A locomotive used for switching cars in yards and terminals. Sometimes termed switcher. Usually built to carry all its weight on the driving wheels.
Switch List A list of freight cars in track standing order showing cars by initial, number, type of car, and showing where cars are to be switched as required by local practice.
Switch Lock A fastener, usually a spring padlock, used to secure the switch or derail stand in place.
Switch Order A order to move a car from one place to another within switching limits.
Switch Stand A device by which a switch is thrown, locked, and its position indicated. It consists essentially of a base, spindle, lever and connecting rod, and is usually furnished with a lamp or banner signal.
Switch Target A visual day signal fixed on the spindle of a switch stand, or the circular flaring collar fitted around the switch lamp lens, and painted a distinctive color to indicate the position of the switch.
Switch Tender 1. Train service employee responsible for aligning tracks for engine and car movements by throwing switches.
2. Building housing controls for remotely throwing switches.
Switching To move cars from one place to another within a defined territory such as an industry, a yard, or a terminal.
Switchman A yard brakeman.
Tamper A power driven machine for compacting ballast under ties.
Tank Car A car used for carrying liquids, such as oil, molasses, vinegar, acid, etc.
Tank Dome A vertical cylinder attached to the top of a tank car. It permits the tank proper to be filled to full cubical capacity, which would be impossible if there were no allowance for expansion in the dome.
Tap Line A short railroad usually owned or controlled by the industries it serves and "tapping" (connecting with) a trunk line.
Tare Weight 1. The weight of a container and the material used for packing.
2. The weight of any empty freight car.
Tariff A published schedule showing rates, fares, charges, classification of freight, rules, and regulations applying to various kinds of transportation and incidental services.
Team Track A track on which cars are placed for the use of the public in loading or unloading freight.
Terminal Facilities provided by a railroad at a terminus or at any intermediate point on its line for the handling of passengers or freight, and for the breaking up, making up, forwarding and servicing trains, and interchanging with other carriers.
Terminal Carrier The railroad making delivery of a shipment at its destination.
Terminal Charge A charge made for services performed at terminals.
Test Weight Car See Scale Test Car.
Third Rail An electric conductor located alongside the running rail from which power is collected by means of a sliding contact shoe attached to the truck of electric equipment.
Third Rail Shoe An insulated metallic sliding contact, mounted on the truck of an electric locomotive for collecting current from an insulated third rail located alongside the running rails. Positive contact between shoe and rail is maintained by gravity, a spring or by pneumatic pressure.
Through Rate A rate applicable from point of origin to destination. A through rate may be either a joint rate or a combination of two or more rates.
Throw it in the hole Apply emergency brakes.
Tie 'Em Down Applying hand brake of car or cars to prevent them from rolling free.
Tie On Couple on.
Tie Plate A metal plate at least 6 inches wide and long enough to provide a safe bearing area on the tie, with a shoulder to restrain outward movement of the rail.
Tie Up Stop for a meal or for rest.
Timetable The authority for the movement of regular trains subject to the rules. If contains classified schedules with special instructions relating to the movement of trains and engines.
TOFC Trailer On Flat Car. See Piggyback.
Ton-Mile 1. A unit used in comparing freight earnings or expenses. The amount earned from, or the cost of, hauling a ton of freight one mile.
2. The movement of a ton of freight one mile.
Tool Train Wreck train used for clearing up derailments.
Tower Building of sufficient height erected along right of way to permit maximum viewing. May house yardmaster, switch lever operator, block operator or dispatcher.
Tracer 1. A request to trace a shipment for the purpose of expediting its movement or establishing delivery.
2. A request for an answer to a communication.
Track The space between the rails and space of not less than 4 feet outside of each rail.
Track Bolt One inch diameter bolts used to fasten angle bars and rails together. Each bolt is five to six inches long and with the nut weighs about two pounds.
Track Car A self propelled car including Burro cranes, highway rail cars, detector cars, weed burners, motorcars, tie tampers and other similar equipment. This type of  equipment may not operate signals or shunt track circuits.
Track Check An inventory of cars in track standing order. See Switch List.
Track Circuit An electrical circuit which includes the rails and wheels of the train. Used for controlling signal devices (Fixed signals as well as flashers and gates at crossings).
Track Spike Square shaped metal nail approximately 5/8 inches wide and 5 to 6 inches long used to fasten railroad rails to crossties.
Track Warrant Control (TWC) A method to authorize train movements or protect men or machines on a main track within a specified limits on a territory designated by the timetable.
Track Wrench Long handled wrench about three feet long used to manually tighten or loosen the bolts that fasten two rails together.
Trackage Right Right obtained by one railroad to operate its trains over the tracks of another railroad.
Traffic Control System (TCS) A block signal system under which train movements are authorized by block signals, whose indications supersede the superiority of trains for both opposing and following movements on the same track.
Trailing Movement The movement of a train over the points of a switch which face in the direction in which the train is moving.
Trailing Point Switch A switch, the points of which face away from approaching traffic.
Train One or more engines couple, with or without cars, displaying a marker, and authorized to operate on a main track.
Train Dispatcher An employee responsible for the movement of trains. Sometimes called Train Runner.
Train Line The complete line of air brake pipes in a train. These lines include the rigid piping secured under the cars and the flexible connections between cars and the locomotive. See Brake Pipe.
Train-Mile The movement of a train one mile.
Train Of Superior Direction A train given precedence in the direction specified by timetable as between opposing trains of the same class.
Train Of Superior Right A train given precedence by train order.
Train Register A book or form which may be used at designated stations for registering signals displayed, the time of arrival and departure of trains and such other information as may be prescribed.
Trainmaster An executive officer who supervises train service operations on one or more divisions or on part of a division. He also supervises the operation of trains at terminals and in yard service.
Trainmen Conductors, brakemen, engine foremen, and switchmen.
Trans-Ship To transfer goods from one transportation line to another, particularly from a rail to a water carrier, or vice versa.
Transit Privilege A service granted to a shipment enroute such as milling, compressing, refining, etc.
Transit Rate A rate restricted in its application to traffic which has been or will be milled, stored or otherwise specially treated in transit.
Trick A work shift or hours of duty.
Tri-level Car A three level freight car used for transporting automobiles.
Triple Load A shipment requiring the use of two carrying cars with an idler car between them.
Truck A general term for the complete wheeled freight car assembly which supports the car body at each end. It is attached to the body by a pair of center plates which function as a pivot. See Center Plate.
Turn-Around A train run from a terminal to an intermediate station and return to that terminal in one work shift.
Turntable A track table operating on a pivot for diverting locomotives or cars into a specific track. Turntables may be located inside or outside of a roundhouse or other shop facility.
Unassigned Car A car, usually with some interior loading devices, that is not assigned to a particular industry or commodity.
Unclaimed Freight Freight which was not been called for the the consignee or owner.
Uncoupling Lever A rod with a bent handle forming a lever, usually attached to the end sill, by which the lock of the automatic coupler is opened and the cars uncoupled without going between them. The lever proper is the part attached to the rod and operating the unlocking mechanism, but in the case of freight cars, the lever and rod are generally made in one piece.
Uniform Demurrage Rules Schedules providing rules and charges for demurrage which are, in general, used throughout the United States, having the approval of, but not prescribed by, the Interstate Commerce Commission. See Demurrage.
Uniform Freight Classification A listing of articles (commodities) showing their assigned class rating (a percentage of first class) to be used in determining freight rates, together with governing rules and regulations.
Ventilated Boxcar Similar to an ordinary boxcar, but arranged for ventilation and suitable for the transportation of produce or other foodstuffs not needing refrigeration.
Washout Violent stop signal made by waving both arms in a downward circle or by swinging a lamp in wide, low semicircle across the track by night.
Waybill A document for handling and accounting for a shipment of freight.
Way Car 1. A box car from which LCL shipments are loaded and unloaded at various towns.
2. See Caboose.
Wayside Signal A fixed signal located along the track right of way. See Fixed Signal.
Weather Interference Natural conditions which render loading or unloading a car impracticable.
Weedburner Flame thrower vehicle which rides on the tracks and is used to kill weeds along the track right-of way.
Weight Agreement An agreement between shipper and carrier, usually following a series of weighing tests, under which carrier agrees to accept shippers goods at certain agreed weights.
Welded Rail Sections of railroad rail welded, rather than bolted, into lengths normally at least mile long.
Well Car See Depressed Center Flat Car.
Wheel Flange The projecting edge or rim on the circumference of a car wheel for keeping it on the rail.
Whiskers Age or seniority.
White Shirt Any railroad official.
Wood Rack Car. A type of bulkhead flat car used for hauling pulpwood.
Work Train A train engaged in company service for which no revenue is received.
Wye A track in the form of a "Y" which leads from a main line and is used in lieu of a turntable for turning engines, cars and trains around.
Yard A system of tracks within defined area limits for the making up of trains, storing of cars, and for other purposes.
Yard Clerk Person engaged in clerical work in and around yards and terminals.
Yard Foreman See Conductor.
Yard Limits A portion of main track designated by yard limit signs and special instructions.
Yard Speed A speed that will permit stopping within one-half the range of vision.
Yarding In Transit Unloading, storing, sorting, etc., of forest products in transit.
Yardmaster Person responsible for control of train and engine operations within a yard.
Yard Switch Device used to alter direction from one track to another within a yard.