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No activities from the railroad, it is deserted. Railroad track, ties and ballast are sometimes removed.

Air Problems

Any issues associated with the train line or air brake system, including leaking gasket, frozen or blocked train line or stuck triple valve.


Angle Bars

Short pieces of steel used to join track sections to other sections or track structures. An angle bar is placed on each side of the sections being joined. Two holes are drilled into each end of the angle bar and also through both track sections. Four bolts with locking washers are fastened through the holes to join the sections. Angle bars also are used to make temporary repairs to a broken section of rail until it can be replaced.





Bad Order

A railcar with a mechanical defect.


Crushed rock or gravel used in railroad beds to give the railcars stability.

Behind "X" Trims

Trims are sorted tracks of cars in a hump yard pulled out of the sorting tracks and coupled to make up outbound trains. A yard "behind on trims" is behind on its outbound train building.


Branch Line

A secondary line or lines of a railroad.


Blue Rapids Railroad

B H & W

Boothill and Western Railroad Company, Inc.

Building Trains

Assembling sorted cars in proper sequence for outbound departure.


Train made up of a single "bulk" commodity (other than coal) and car type. Bulk commodities include grain, soda ash and ore.


Car Hire Allowance

A charge issued by the owner of a railcar.

Car Set Out

Bad order in a train that has a mechanical defect and must be "set out" on line for repair by mechanical road truck.


Central Kansas Railway


Cimarron Valley Railway

Crews are Tight

Sufficient crews are available, but rest issues may cause delays to calls.

Crews Short

Not enough crews are available to protect scheduled outbounds and any deadheads/dogcatch events.

Crossties or Ties

The Crossties rest in a bed of gravel ballast and support the railroad tracks placed on top. Crossties are made of wood or concrete.


Track that joins two main tracks. When a train moves from one main track to another it "crosses over."


A time period scheduled in advance when no trains operate, allowing maintenance employees to work in track or signals.


Date Nail

A date nail is a nail with the year stamped on the head of the nail and then put in the tie when replaced on the railroad line.


The movement for free of a crew from one point to another or to a train being hauled by vehicle transportation or by train.


A train that has run off of the rails because of debris or pull apart.


Track intersection where one track can be used at a time.


Stands for Distributed Power Unit, a locomotive set capable of remote-control operation in conjunction with locomotive unites at the train's head end. DPUs are placed in the middle or at the rear of heavy trains (such as coal, or grain) to help climb steep grades.


Moving railroad personnel from one location to another via a vehicle or another train.

Dragging Equipment Detector

Electron trackside detection system that identifies unusual conditions, such as brake rigging down, lading down or dragging along side car, and chains or straps on flat cars along the ground.


Switching movement.



A government order of restrictions prohibiting the entry or departure of commercial railroads at its ports.


Count of trains destined to a particular yard or terminal that need to be switched. "Strong enroute" indicates a forecast for a heavy switching workload for that day.

Extra Board

Unassigned engineers or trainmen used to protect vacancies or make up extra crews as needed to protect higher traffic levels.



The bolts, spikes, and splice bars to fasten the rail to the ties.



The horizontal portion of steel shaped metal, (like an "I" rail) attaching it to another object to strengthen it.


Heavy metal flangeways that connect track to switches, diamonds, crossovers and other track structures. Frogs is a device that guides wheels from one-track structure to another.



Red flare used for signaling purposes.


Gandy Dancers

Section men who work on the roadbed.



Gauge of the rail track with the standard gauge being 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches apart, and with 3 feet of hang over on each side of the train.

Green Eye

Clear signal.


H & N

Hutchinson and Northern Railroad


Heavy Axle Loads

Haulage Rights

The purchase for a fee, based on the number of railroad cars involved for the transportation rights of one railroad, to run on tracks owned by another railroad.

High Iron

Main-line track.


Signal to come ahead or pick up speed.

Hot Box

Overheating of the axle hub due to bearing failure. Metal-on-metal friction generates heat and eventually will melt a 6-inch-diameter steel axle.

Hot Shot

Train with very high priority compared to other trains. Other than passenger trains, UP hot shots are intermodal trains that maintain the most expeditious schedules.

Hot Wheels

Overheating of a railcar's wheels due to sticking brakes and brake shoes rubbing against the wheel tread. They can result in thermal cracking if severe.

Hump Back Crossing

A railroad crossing that is a small hill at the point that the railroad tracks are positioned.


Count of cars that are sorted in a hump yard.


Trains destined to a "hump" yard. Hump yards are where railcars are pushed up a hill (hump), uncoupled, and then rolled downhill into remotely controlled sorting tracks. Hump operations are the railroad's most efficient sorting operations.


In the Color

Train standing in the signal block waiting for a clear signal to proceed.

In the Hole

When two opposing trains meet, one train "Holds the Main," the other "Takes the Hole" on a siding.


Among transportation, the representation of the other forms of traveling are (Aviation, Bike and Pedestrian trails, Public Transit, and Railroads).



This is the location when two pieces of rail come together. These are the relatively weak spots in a track to reduce the weakness the rail has been lengthened.


K & O




Kansas City Terminal Railway



Kansas Southern Railway, L. L. C.


Kyle Railroad Company



The condition and checking of the track in which the elevation of the rails is transversely equal.


The lining of the track is shifting the track laterally to conform to the established alignment required.


Self-propelled vehicles, usually an electric, steam, or diesel-powered engine on wheels designed to push or to pull a train on railroad tracks.


M & NA

Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railway

Main Line

The principal line or lines of a railroad.


Train made up of mixed railcars (box cars, tank cars, piggyback cars, etc.)

Matching Dials

Comparing the time on watches.




Nebraska Kansas and Colorado Rail Net, Inc.


New Century AirCenter Railroad



Out Of Face

Track work that proceeds completely and continuously over a given piece of disconnected track point.


Operation Lifesaver Incorporated is a nonprofit information and safety education program dedicated to eliminating collisions, deaths, and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights-of-way. It is composed of a broad-based coalition of federal, state, and local government agencies, private safety groups and transportation industry representatives.



A flatcar carrying a semitrailer by rail to then be transported by road.

Pool Crew Base

Number of crews determined by volumes and agreements to protect traffic levels at specific terminals.

Power Short

Not enough power coming into the terminal to protect the schedules outbound departures.

Pull Apart

When two sections of rail separate (pull apart) at a point where they are joined at its weakest point usually at a joint.



A road composed of parallel heavy metal bars supported by ties, which are connected by metal plates and fasteners and provide a track for locomotive-drawn trains or wheeled vehicles to travel. Rail weights are from 60 to 155 pounds per a yard. The length of rail is from 30 feet to 78 feet, with 39 being the standard length.

Railroad or Railway

A road on which trains transport commodities or people from one location to another, drawn by a locomotive, traveling on a track formed by a pair of parallel steel rails. The structure forming the railroad includes the rail, ballast, crossties, tie plates, trestles, the land, embankments, and bridges.


Rails-to-Trails is dedicated to enriching America's communities and countryside by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.

Rail Banking

Negotiating a voluntary agreement to use a railroad right-of-way that would otherwise be abandoned for recreational trail or other public use. Preserving a railroad corridor is known as rail banking meaning that the right-of-way is preserved for potential future use as a railroad.


Crew used to bring a train into a terminal when the original crew has insufficient time to complete the trip and a second crew is necessary.

Red Board

A stop signal.

Red Flag Warnings

Weather alerts by contract weather service to advise of situations affecting operations and requiring actions.


To restore, and put back in good condition useable for railroad travel.

Relay Power

Changing out a train's locomotives to correct a situation, such as bad order engines or wrong type-class of units for service.


The land upon which the railroad is built, it is between 75 to 200 feet wide.


Train that generally is not scheduled to add (pick up) or reduce (set out) railcars enroute.



Temporary track used to avoid obstacle that blocks movement on the normal track section. Shooflies are often constructed to allow temporary passage around wrecks to be removed or flooded areas while being repaired.

Shop Count

Number of bad order railcar (loads/empties) at a repair facility-awaiting repair, or number of locomotives at a shop for repairs.

Side Track

To switch a train to a siding.


A short railroad track for unloading, etc., connected with the main track by a switch.

Siding Blocked

Auxiliary tracks normally used to meet and/or pass trains now used to hold trains/cuts of car(s) spacing/staging for terminals.


Spiral when used with the respect to the railroad track is a form of easement curve in which the change of degree of curve is uniform throughout its length.

SK & O


Short, usually dead-end section of track used to access a facility of loading/unloading ramp. It can also be used to temporarily store equipment.



The surface condition of the railroad track as to vertical evenness or smoothness over short distances.


The connection between two lines of track to permit cars or trains to pass from one track to the other.



Tangent is any straight portion of a railroad alignment.


A building at either end, or a main station, or a connective point of a transportation railroad line, for the adding or removal of cars and the boarding or departure of people.


Wood or concrete transverse beams on which rail is placed and anchored. Ties sit on a bed of gravel ballast.

Tie Plates

A thin plate of steel setting on the ties in which spikes are driven to hold the rails in place, and support the rail on the ties.


The authority for the movement of regular trains, and schedules of such movement of trains.

Tight on Power

Power is adequate to protect departures, but some delays may occur due to late arrival and servicing of locomotives.

Tonnage is Current

No trains holding, switching is current, no delays expected to traffic, resources are adequate to protect operations.

Trackage Rights

The purchase for a fee, based on the number of railroad cars involved for the right of one railroad to run on tracks owned by another railroad, along with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approval.


A series of connected railroad cars being pulled or pushed by one or more locomotive engine.

Trains Blocked on Line

Trains stopped between primary terminals and switched to further define the car blocks and to facilitate handling at the destination terminal.

Trains Drug Out

Trains moved from origin yard to a siding between terminals to make room in the yard to continue to build trains.

Trains Flagging

When a train crew has authority granted by a dispatcher to "flag" past a signal that is in stop indication due to a defect and or an event.

Trains Held Out

The number of trains held on line (out) due to lack of room in the destination yard. When a yard's receiving tracks are occupied, the terminal "hold trains out."

Trains Holding

A count of trains being held either for congestion or for maintenance of way curfew. This may occur because of trains that are not running on schedule due to a critical resource, such as power or track congestion.

Trains Laid Down

Trains with no arrival plan for a terminal. The crews have been removed and power has probably been removed.

Trains Processed

Number of trains operated through a defined area or terminal during a specified time period.

Trains Slotted

Number of trains a terminal can process in a given 24-hour period of time.

Trains Spacing

Time spacing in which a terminal or subdivision can handle trains in a given hour.

Trains Staging

Trains holding at a point on line for release to move into a terminal.

Trains Tied Down

Trains holding on line for relief crews, slots and spacing into a terminal. Power usually is still on the trains.

Trains Walking

When a track defect, such as a broken rail, has been determined by the engineer to be passable at "walking speed."

Trains Yarded

The number of trains at a terminal that are yarded in a 24-hour period.

Trim Lead

Track used to move cars from the bowl (sorting tracks) to the departure yard, where sorted cars are coupled into an outbound train.


Count of sorted cars built into outbound trains.


To enter or go beyond the limits of the property line without permission from the railroad (the right-of-way of the railway).


A braced framework of timbers, piles, or steel for carrying a railroad over a depression of land.




Undesired emergency, when air pressure contained within the air brake system is released, resulting in the application of train brakes.




When a flood or flash flood washes away ballast and roadway under the track.


Watco Companies Inc. a rail and transportation company based in Pittsburg, Kansas.


The toll or fee paid to the owner of the railroad track to pass over their tracks.


Same as curfew, but also can mean holding trains for things other than Maintenance of Way curfew, such as operating passenger trains.

Wiping the Gauge

Stopping suddenly.


Tracks running off the main line, forming a huge Y, used for turning cars or engines where no turntable is available.



The grounds next to the railroad building center where trains are made up and or loaded or switched.

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Source: Encarta 2000 Encyclopedia, The World Book Encyclopedia, UPRR-Railroad Terms, and Webster's New World Dictionary