railway icon Railway Terminology

This page is a collection of terms used in railway construction and operation. Please e-mail me any additions or corrections.

Track Configuration

Yard Configuration



Trains can be: freight, passenger, mixed (both freight and passenger) or non-revenue.




Train Control



Personnel are train crew, routing crew, mechanical crew, maintenance crew or administration.

Train Crew

Train crews typically work on assigned territories or districts between two points. They can work on an assigned job (a crew which works on an assigned sequence of trains with definite starting times and off days) or in pool service (a crew catches the next available train; first in- first out). On the same territory or crew district there can be different groups or boards of train crews. There might be a switchman's board, local freight board, through freight board, passenger train board, and "extra" boards for each. Vacancies (vacation, sickness, personal days, etc) on a train crew or additional crews over the those run by the regular pools are covered by a group of people called the extra board, who work first in-first out. In addition there may be runs where a single crew operates over two or more crew districts. Such boards are called inter-divisional or ID runs. Assignments are on the basis of seniority in craft, when an opening occurs, the people in the craft bid or apply for the job with the most senior people being awarded the job.

All of these people come under the Federal Hours of Service Act which limit the number of hours train service employees can work in a row and their rest periods (16 hours prior to 1975 and 12 hours after that).

Routing Crew

Mechanical Crew

Maintenance Crew



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