Glossary of North American railroad terminology

Glossary of North American railroad terminology

This page contains a list of terms, jargon, and slang used to varying degrees by railroad enthusiasts / railfans and railroad employees in the United States and Canada. Although not exhaustive, many of the entries in this list appear from time to time in specialist, rail-related publications. Inclusion of a term in this list does not necessarily imply its universal adoption by all railfans and railroad employees, and there may be significant regional variation in usage.

This list does not include nicknames for railroad companies; those can be found at "Railroad nicknames".


* ALCOhaulic: Nickname for the DH643 diesel-hydraulic locomotive built by American Locomotive Company (ALCO). []

* Roster Shooter: Someone interested in photographing every locomotive road number they can. [cite web| url=| title=New Canon Body, Lenses| author=Hockley, Aaron| date=2006-08-24| work=Dogcaught: A Railroad Blog| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Screamer or Screaming thunderbox: EMD F40PH locomotive, in reference to it operating in a constant state of full throttle (in order to provide head-end power to passenger cars). Coined by MBTA railfans.

* Sergeant Stripes: a Canadian National locomotive in the 1970s-1980s paint scheme featuring light grey stripes on the locomotive's long hood. [cite journal| url=| format=PDF| title=New CN Locomotives| journal=Canadian Railway Observations| year=2007| month=December| author=Baird, William| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Slug: A locomotive, with or without an operator's cab, which lacks a diesel engine, and draws power for its traction motors from a normal locomotive, known as a "mate" or "mother."cite book| title=N Scale Primer| publisher=Kalmbach Publishing| author=Larson, Russ| year=1974| edition=fourth printing (1977)| isbn=0-89024-521-5| chapter=Learn the lingo| pages=pp 100-102| ]

* Speeder: a small, motorized track inspection vehicle. Also called motorcar, trackcar, putt-putt, or golf cart. [cite web| url=| title=FAQ's & Answers| publisher=NARCOA| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Stacks: Nickname for double-stack cars or trains.cite web| url=| title=Glossary Of Common Railroad Terms: S| publisher=Kalmbach Publishing| accessdate=2008-01-28| ]

* Stealth Unit: The early CSX grey & blue paint scheme. So named for their virtual invisibility in poor light. Also used to describe NS D9-40CWs in light gray primer paint, and a scheme used on some Metro-North locomotives.


* T-Hog: Nickname for a Reading Railroad T-1 4-8-4 steam locomotive. [cite web| url=| title=PA trip with pics.... Yea, it's off topic| year=2004|| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Taco Belle: Nickname for the new "Southern Belle"-inspired paint scheme on Kansas City Southern Railway locomotives. [cite web| url=,1569618| title=Taco Belle on the point of Q106| date=2008-01-03| publisher=Trainorders| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Toaster: Amtrak AEM-7/ALP-44 or GE P42DC locomotives. Also used to refer to any GE locomotive, due both to their tendency to shoot flames out of the exhaust stack during Turbo Lag and to General Electric's historic involvement in the manufacture of household appliances.

* Tunnel Motor: Southern Pacific EMD SD40T-2 / | accessdate=2008-01-25| ] cite web| url=| title=Glossary Of Common Railroad Terms: T| publisher=Kalmbach Publishing| accessdate=2008-01-28| ]

* Turbo Lag: Characteristic of Alco and GE diesel locomotives, where the turbocharger lags behind the throttle-up of the engine, shooting dense clouds of black smoke and/or flames from the exhaust stack when initially throttling up. [cite web| url=| title=Plover Plume| work=Green Bay & Western Lines| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]


* U-Boat: GE Universal Series locomotive. cite book| last = Schafer| first = Mike| title = Vintage Diesel Locomotives| publisher = Motor Book International| year = 1998| page = p. 93| isbn = 0-76030-507-2 ]


* Vomit Bonnet: BNSF's first attempt at a paint scheme. [cite web | url = | title = BNSF 9647 | accessdate = 2008-01-25]


* Warbonnet: Santa Fe's red and silver paint scheme (less common since the BNSF Railway merger in 1995).

* Warpumpkin: Name given to the BNSF orange and black update of the classic Sante Fe Warbonnet scheme.

* Washboards: name given to M.U. cars, subway cars, and other equipment made with corrugated side panels that resembled washboards. [cite web| url=| title=On Board the Washboards|| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Wet Noodle: Canadian National's stylized CN logo, in use since 1961.

* Whiteface: first version of Norfolk Southern's "Horsehead" paint scheme.cite web| url=| title=Class1 Railroads - Color Scheme Samples| month=April | year=2002| publisher=Railroad| accessdate=2008-01-25| ] High visibility paint scheme used on various Burlington Northern locomotives, primarily SD60Ms, SD40-2s, GP50s, GP39 rebuilds, and GP28 rebuilds. [cite web|url=| title=FOBNR White Face Engine List| work=Friends of the Burlington Northern Railroad| year=2002| accessdate=2008-02-20| ] [cite web| url=| title=BNSF Los Angeles Photos| work=Ron Lehmer's Railroad Photo Archive| year=2007| accessdate=2008-01-25| ]

* Winnebago: Nickname for Metra's fleet of EMD F40PHM-2 locomotives, in reference to that model's resemblance to the popular recreational vehicle.



* Yellowbonnet: one of two Santa Fe paint schemes. The standard freight scheme from 1972 until the BNSF merger was dark blue with yellow on the front, with the same color division as the warbonnet scheme. It is also known as Bluebonnet. Yellowbonnet can also mean a warbonnet unit with only the red painted over, resulting in a silver and yellow locomotive; this was used on passenger engines transferred to freight service after the formation of Amtrak.

* YN1: CSX's first yellow-nose paint scheme; gray overall with dark blue on the top half of the cab and yellow on the front of the nose; blue "CSX" lettering.

* YN2: CSX's second yellow-nose paint scheme; more yellow on the nose; the whole cab is dark blue, along with a stripe on the side; blue or yellow "CSX" lettering.

* YN3: CSX's third yellow-nose paint scheme; dark blue overall with a yellow nose; yellow "CSX" lettering.


* Zebra Stripes: A Santa Fe locomotive in the early black scheme with white warning stripes.cite book |last=Glischinski |first=Steve |title=Santa Fe Railway |year=1997 |publisher=MBI Publishing Company |id=ISBN 0760303800 |page=page 114]

ee also

* Glossary of New Zealand railway terminology
* Glossary of UK railway terminology
* Rail terminology
* Railroad nicknames


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