Glossary of North American railway terms

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This page contains a list of terms, jargon, and slang used to varying degrees by 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.


A nickname for EMD's SD70ACe locomotive[1][2][3]
1. A nickname for the DH643 diesel-hydraulic locomotive built by American Locomotive Company (ALCO)[citation needed]
2. A nickname for railfans who are "addicted" to ALCO locomotives[citation needed]
ALCO RSD-15 locomotive, so named for its long, low nose[4][5][6]
An Amfleet passenger car—named because the car shape is a rounded stainless steel tube[7]
Armchair railfan
Someone who only railfans indoors, usually using a radio scanner[citation needed]
A small shelter that serves as a train station for Amtrak trains in a small town. Normally, there are no manned services offered at these small stations.[8]
Association of American Railroads (AAR)
An industry trade group representing primarily the major freight railroads of North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States)[9]
A nickname for Canadian Pacific's GP20C-ECOs since their long, narrow noses resemble that of an Aardvark[citation needed]


GE B23-7, B30-7 or B36-7 locomotive. By analogy with U-boat, since with the Dash 7 line, the "B" or "C" moved to the beginning of the designation.[10][unreliable source?][11]
B unit
A booster locomotive commonly with no cab[6][12][13]
A GE U18B locomotive, or Baby Boat
Baby Boat
GE U18B locomotive[6][10]
Baby Tunnel Motor
EMD GP15-1 or GP15T locomotive, so-called because its low air intakes resemble those of the much larger SD40T-2 and SD45T-2[6][14][unreliable source?]
A nickname for Milwaukee Road engines after the railroad was sold to the Soo Line Railroad. The Soo covered up the Milwaukee Road name and logo on the orange locomotives with black paint, causing them to resemble bandits.[15][unreliable source?][16] Also often applied to similarly patched, second-hand locomotives, especially if the patches are crudely applied.[17]
Empty flat, spine, or well cars[18][unreliable source?][19][unreliable source?][20]
Beans or Going to Beans
Taking a break from work to eat[21][22][23]
Big Blue
A nickname for Conrail due to the medium blue livery that their locomotives were painted[24][25]
A Guilford Rail System locomotive showing the Big G paint scheme
Big G
1. A nickname for Guilford Rail System, in reference to the large "G" emblem on their locomotives and boxcars[26]
2. Great Northern Railway[27][unreliable source?][28][29]
Big hole
When a train suffers a loss of all brake air and stops or when the air brakes on the train are placed in emergency. It refers to the air ports in the automatic brake valve, the emergency portion being the biggest port or hole. (e.g. over the radio: "We just big holed.")[30][31][32]
Big hook
A railroad crane[33][34]
Big Jack
A nickname given to EMD's DDA40X[citation needed]
Big Mac
A nickname given to EMD's SD70MAC, SD80MAC, and SD90MAC locomotive models[35][unreliable source?][36]
Big Red
A nickname given to GG1 #4877 because it was repainted into PRR Tuscan Red in 1981[citation needed]
Santa Fe locomotive in the pre-1972 blue and yellow scheme[6]
Black Widow
Southern Pacific locomotive (all black with some silver)[6][10]
Bloody Nose
Southern Pacific locomotive (post-1959 grey and red paint scheme where the nose of the diesel locomotive was painted in scarlet red),[6][10] or Amtrak Phase I paint scheme: reddish-orange nose and then the Amtrak Chevron logo on the side of the engine.
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 Yellowbonnet. Bluebonnet can also mean a warbonnet unit with only the red painted over, resulting in a silver and blue locomotive; this was used on passenger engines transferred to freight service after the formation of Amtrak.[6]
A nickname given to the GE U34CH's because they were delivered in dark blue and silver NJDOT paint
A nickname given to the Reading Railroad's heavyweight MU cars, in reference to the bright blue and white paint scheme they wore in later years before being sold to SEPTA
A transverse floating beam member of truck suspension system supporting the weight of vehicle body[37]
A cabless B unit or Slug. Although a Slug and a B unit differ in terms of an engine, both serve the purpose of adding more tractive effort.[38][39]
Bright Future
The middle CSX tricolor paint scheme (also known as Yellow Nose 2 or YN2)[40][unreliable source?]
Buda Car
A type of inspection car or speeder, typically streamlined, manufactured by the Buda Engine Co. Sometimes built out of an ordinary automobile body, with flanged wheels added. It was driven by small engines from 30 to 200 horsepower.[41]
A caboose on the Boston and Maine Railroad[42]
A railroad police officer[6][27]
Butthead or Butt Head
GM Electro-Motive Division model 'MP' or 'SW' endcab switching locomotives[43]


Former EMD F40PH locomotives with the diesel engine removed, and a roll-up baggage door installed in the center of the carbody; used as cab/baggage cars in Amtrak push-pull service. Portmanteau of 'cab' and 'baggage'.[44]
A nickname for EMD SD9 locomotives, in reference to their smooth ride quality reminiscent of a Cadillac automobile. This nickname is said to have originated on the Southern Pacific Railroad.[10]
An EMD TR1, one of several models of cow-calf locomotives
A cabless switcher. Not a slug; it has its own diesel engine.[39]
Can Opener
Conrail's herald[45][unreliable source?][46][47]
Car knocker
Railroad car repair-person or car inspector. The term is derived from a worker who taps or "knocks" on railroad equipment to check its soundness.[48]
Norfolk Southern locomotives with white stripes painted on the nose, which are said to look like catfish whiskers[10][49]
Union Pacific's EMD DDA40X locomotives. World's most powerful diesel locomotives, delivered in 1969, the year of Union Pacific's centennial.[50]
A nickname given to a 12-axled Baldwin diesel locomotive.[51] Also a tender (as on a steam engine) with seven axles (three wheel truck, with four fixed axles).[52][53]
Red colored signal aspects (lights) when mixed with other colors of a signal aspect (e.g. "Two cherries and a lemon" would denote a Red over Red over Yellow aspect colors)[citation needed]
Chessie System's kitten logo; the profile of the Chesapeake and Ohio's sleeping kitten mascot "Chessie" appears inside the corporate C logo[54][unreliable source?][55][56]
Cinder dick
Railroad police detective. The term is derived from the fact that railroad police have to walk on ballast, which is sometimes known as "cinders" (before dieselization, many railroads used spent steam locomotive cinders for ballast)[57][58]
Circus loading
Loading trailers on flatcars sequentially from the end; the standard method of loading in early piggyback service[59]
Coal drag
A train loaded with coal[60]
Coal jimmy
A small, low-capacity hopper car for carrying coal[61]
Coffin car
A nickname for a passenger car with an engineer's cab. Also known as a cab car or control car. So named due to the alleged additional danger posed to passengers in such cars (which are pushed by the heavier trailing locomotive) in frontal collisions.[62]
The group of rail vehicles making up a train, or more commonly a group of locomotives connected together for multiple-unit (MU) operation[63][64]
Cornfield meet
A term used when two trains have a head-on collision[65]
Covered wagon
An EMD E-series or F-series locomotive[10][34][66]
A switcher locomotive, when paired with a calf[39]
Color position light (CPL)
A type of signal used most prominently by the Baltimore & Ohio and the Norfolk & Western railroads[67][unreliable source?][68][69]
A small industrial locomotive[70][unreliable source?][71]
A caboose[72]


CSX SD40-2 in Dark Future paint
Dark Future
The current CSX paint scheme, also known as Yellow Nose 3 (YN3) or Gold Nose 1 (GN1)[49][unreliable source?][73]
Dark Territory
Rail lines without wayside (train control) signals[74]
Darth Vader signals
Darth Vader
The lens hood on a modern style of railroad signals, due to its vague resemblance to the helmet of Darth Vader from Star Wars[75][76]
A passenger train that is traveling along a line but is not carrying passengers[77]
The logo of Illinois Central Railroad, which has the letter "i" inside a circle—based on a vague resemblance to the Death Star battle station in Star Wars[10]
Level crossing of two railroad tracks, at any angle from 15° to 90°[77]
A nickname given to small locomotives, particularly one running in industrial service or on narrow gauge tracks[78] Also, a small old-fashioned trolley.[79]
Distributed power
Locomotives at the end or in the middle of a train. Can either be manned or automatically controlled. Manned units are preferred to be called "helpers" by railfans and some railroad personnel.[80]
Nickname for the Canadian-built GMD SD40-2F, SD50F, SD60F, GE C40-8M, and BBD HR-616. These locomotives feature a full-width carbody with improved rear visibility, designed by William L. Draper, an employee of Canadian National Railway.[81]
Dynamic braking or dynamics
A method of braking in which the motors on the locomotive wheels generate electric power from the momentum of the moving train, and this power is dissipated through resistor grids as heat[82][83]
Dynamite the train or dynamite
Causing an emergency brake application (whether intentional or not)[84][85]


Eight and Sand
Term used to wish train crews well wishes and quick uneventful journey. Comes from 'Notch 8' (highest power setting of modern locomotive throttles) and to apply sand to prevent wheel slipping.[86]
Three BN locomotives coupled elephant style
Elephant style
A consist of multiple locomotives with all units facing forward;[87] resembling the nose-to-tail train of elephants in a circus parade[88][89]
Clear aspects (green colored signal lights) indicating maximum allowable speed for that section of track or route. Emeralds are the opposite of "Rubies".[citation needed]
When a train has made a full brake application due to adverse event, or has lost its train air due to a defective valve (a "kicker"), or a broken air line or train separation. The train crew will normally declare that they are "in emergency" over the train radio, thus warning other trains and the dispatcher that there is a problem.[90][91]
A nickname given to the Southern Pacific railroad by railfans[92]
A former Conrail locomotive[93] or former Conrail employee


Fallen flag
A railroad company that no longer operates, has merged with, or been acquired by another railroad company[94]
Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
A U.S. federal law that protects and compensates railroaders injured on the job[95]
Converting a double stack container train to single stack by removing the top layer of containers, allowing the rest of the train to proceed along track that lacks double stack clearance. The removed containers can be trucked to local destinations. The opposite process is toupee.[96]
The EMD SD45, with its dynamic brake blisters and radiators that distinctively flare from the top of the unit. Also Flare 45. Both forms distinguish the SD45 from the SD45-2 and SD45T-2, which lack flared radiators.[97] The GP40X and SD70M models also bear similar flared radiators.[citation needed]
Wings/Flags/Flares (W/F/F)
Characteristics used to designate Union Pacific's paint scheme and engine type. Wings = "Wing" Decal on the engine nose, Flags = "American Flag" Decal on engine body, Flares = "Flared Radiators" of certain SD70Ms on the long hood. Some UP engines have one or more of these characteristics.[49]
Industry slang for trailer-on-flatcar service in the 1970s, especially in the trade journal Railway Age[98]
A railfan, particularly one whose enthusiasm appears excessive. They figuratively "foam at the mouth" while railfanning.[99]
A flashing rear-end device on a container train
Flashing rear-end device (FRED)
Located on the rear of trains, measures train air line pressure and train speed[100][101]
Foreign power
Motive power from one railroad that runs along another railroad[102]
Fucking rail nut (FRN)
A derogatory term used by some railroaders for railfans[103]


Gandy dancer
A nickname for a track maintenance worker[104]
A nickname for EMD's GP series of locomotives[10][105]
A MetroNorth or Amtrak GE P32AC-DM locomotive[106][unreliable source?]
From "generator set", a locomotive that uses multiple high-speed diesel engines and generators, rather than a single medium-speed diesel engine and a single generator. Sometimes confused with Green Goat locomotives; the only similarities between the two types are their outward appearance and that both are designed to reduce air pollution and fuel consumption.[107]
A nickname for GE Evolution Series locomotives, in reference to the GEVO-12 engine used in those units[108]
An unpainted (but usually numbered) locomotive that has not yet been painted with company's livery. A ghost locomotive can be either in transport from the locomotive builder to the paint shop, or an unpainted locomotive may have been placed in revenue service without livery due to power shortage or, in rare cases, pushed out of the factory preemptively due to an impending labor strike. May also refer to an EMD E8, #4261, belonging to the Boston commuter agency, MBTA. This locomotive was known for its unique, plain light-grey paint.[citation needed]
A locomotive used in yard switching service[27][60][105]
Gold Nose 1 (GN1) or YN3
The current CSX paint scheme[citation needed]
A demonstrator Green Goat locomotive
Green Goat
A type of "hybrid" switching locomotive utilizing a small diesel engine and a large bank of rechargeable batteries[109]


A caboose[110][111]
1. A GE locomotive with "winged" radiators, when running long hood forward[112][unreliable source?]
2. A nickname given to certain early ALCO roadswitchers with a high nose, as well as the GE BQ23-7[citation needed]
A locomotive or locomotives used to assist heavy tonnage trains over steep grades. Helpers do not travel the entire run from departure point to destination point of a train and are added just before and removed soon after the ascent and descent of a train over the grade.
High Ball
1. Another term for a clear signal, derived from the days of steam where a station operator would hoist a large wooden ball up a standard, signalling that the engineer was authorized to proceed[27][60][113][114]
2. A slang term used among railroad employees to convey to the crew of a train that they were clear to proceed[115][116]
Hog law
The federal hours-of-service law that forbids certain classes of railroad employees, including those operating trains, from working longer than a certain time after reporting for duty—currently 12 hours[117][118]
A locomotive engineer[27][60][114][119]
Honorary steam engine
Common term for Alco diesel locomotives, due to their tendency to blow clouds of black smoke when throttling up, due to turbo lag[120][121]
Horsehead or 'Mister Ed'
Norfolk Southern's current locomotive livery with a horse's head embedded in the NS Logo[122][unreliable source?][123][unreliable source?][124]
Horsepower hours
How long motive power from another railroad is used on a specific railroad[102]
Hospital train
A train composed of defective "bad order" equipment or locomotives that are en route to a repair shop[125]
Hot box
An overheated wheel bearing. This comes from the era before the widespread use of roller bearings where the ends of an axle rested in solid copper bearings housed in a journal box filled with oil soaked cotton waste. An overheated axle led to a hot journal box that often ignited the oiled waste. The term is used to refer to a railway wheel bearing that has over-heated due to internal friction caused by some fault in the bearing.[114][126][127]


Iron Triangle, The
An area near downtown Fostoria, Ohio where two main lines of CSX Transportation (the former Baltimore and Ohio line between Akron and Chicago and the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway line between Columbus and Toledo) and one main line of Norfolk Southern (the former Nickel Plate Road line between Bellevue and Fort Wayne) cross each other in close proximity[128]


A preserved refrigerator car that was used on the Juice Train
Juice Train
A unit train of Tropicana cars[129]
Used by brakemen when flat switching a yard. Talking on the radio, they will tell the engineer how many car lengths to back up in order to couple to another car (i.e. "five cars to a joint")[130]


Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad's red, yellow, and black paint scheme, which resembled the packaging of Kodachrome color transparency film. This was the scheme instituted when the merger between Southern Pacific and Santa Fe was assumed to be approved. Hundreds of locomotives were painted in Kodachrome colors before the merger was denied.[10]


Light engine
A locomotive unit traveling to a destination without a train attached. Can be a power pool transfer (relocation of a surplus of locomotives from one location to another), or can be a helper locomotive/locomotives being sent or returning from helping a heavy tonnage train over a grade.[131]
Lightning Slinger
A telegraph operator[60][132][unreliable source?]
Lineup or lined up
To have switches aligned correctly before a move (e.g. over the radio, "Would you call the dispatcher for a lineup so we can get out of here?")[133][134]


A westbound Southern Pacific Railroad manifest train
A freight train with a mixture of car types and cargoes. Also known as a Mixed Freight Train.[135][136]
Mating Worms
The intertwined P and C letters of the Penn Central logo[10][49]
Meatball or Swedish Meatball
Amtrak EMD AEM-7 or ABB ALP-44 electric locomotives; so named for their design being based on the Swedish Rc4.[137]
Four permanently coupled ore cars (jennies)[138]
The name given to the maroon and gold paint scheme applied to Boston & Maine Railroad diesel-electric locomotives from the 1940s to early 1950s, bearing the famous Revolutionary-inspired Minute Man statue[citation needed]
A locomotive that is paired with a slug[39]
Mud Missile
A derogatory nickname given to GE Genesis locomotives, in reference to one's involvement in the 1993 Big Bayou Canot train disaster[10]
Named for the Canadian Pacific paint scheme given from 1968 to 1996[139][140][141]


Nose To Ass (N2A)
A group of locomotives that are oriented elephant style[citation needed]


Office-car special (OCS)
A train composed of passenger cars that are privately owned by the railroad corporation and which travels along their rail lines, so that upper level management can review facilities, assess the addition or reconstruction of facilities that are needed for expansion or modernization; as well as streamlining of operations or removal of obsolete infrastructure. Also, these trains are used to escort visiting upper level management from other railroads for the purpose of a proposed purchase or sale of a rail line.[142][143][144]
Train crew members who have reached their daily 12 hour maximum of hours worked and must cease working due to regulations[145]
A train of exclusively locomotives, usually retired, that exceeds the ordinary maximum number of locomotives in one train[citation needed]
Owl-eyed Cars
An uncommon nickname for Pennsylvania Railroad's MP54s and related heavyweight MU cars, in reference to their distinctive porthole front windows that give the appearance of a pair of eyes when viewed from the front[146][147]


A nickname for Canadian Pacific Railway's 1968–1996 logo featuring a black triangle within a white half-circle, which resembles the main character of the video arcade game Pac-Man. It was CP's corporate logo for all business aspects - railway (CP Rail), shipping (CP Ships), telecommunications (CNCP), trucking (CP Express) and airline (CP Air). It was officially known as the Multimark.[148][unreliable source?][76]
Union Pacific 588—formerly owned by Southern Pacific—showing a patch paint job of the new owner's reporting marks
A locomotive or car wearing a new reporting mark or number on a "patch" over existing paint, usually of the former owner's[149]
Pennsy Style
A nickname for old Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals[150][unreliable source?][151][unreliable source?]
Pepsi Can
An Amtrak GE Dash 8-32BWH, in reference to the units' original paint scheme with large red and blue stripes.[10] Also referred to as "Cutters" for the striping's supposed similarity to striping on Coast Guard vessels.[citation needed]
Pig train
A train devoted exclusively to intermodal traffic, generally trailers on flatcars (TOFC) or containers on flatcars (COFC)[152][153]
A nickname for the General Electric P30CH locomotives. So termed by the similar appearance of the model name to the word pooch: P30CH / POOCH.[154]
Position light signal (Pennsylvania)
Signals made by the Pennsylvania Railroad that make use of a circular disc with up to 8 lights mounted in a circle, with one light in the center. The lights would line up in a straight line to give the indication.[155][156]
Private varnish (PV)
Privately owned passenger cars[157][158]
1. BNSF Railway's current bright orange paint scheme[10][49]
2. CSX's or Amtrak's maintenance-of-way paint scheme[159][unreliable source?][160][unreliable source?][161]
3. Formerly ICG's all-orange scheme[162][unreliable source?]


Shorthand nickname for the old Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad[163][164]


1. A nickname for a stretch of Metra Commuter Rail line and BNSF freight line between Chicago and Aurora where commuter trains and freight trains commonly attain high speeds.[165]
2. The parallel tracks of the O&W and DL&W north of Norwich.[166]
Norfolk Southern locomotives that have the entire area around the cab windows painted white, resembling the face of a raccoon[citation needed]
1. Multiple autoracks
2. The portion of an autorack which is attached to a flat car in order to protect the vehicles inside and may contain one, two, or three levels depending on the height of the vehicles being shipped[citation needed]
Rainbow consist, Skittles consist, or Skittles lineup
1. A group of locomotives of different colors or liveries leading a single train[167]
2. A passenger train made up of cars bearing different liveries[168]
Rare mileage
A passenger train traveling over track that does not have regular passenger service[169]
Red Barn
Canadian Pacific's GMD SD40-2F locomotives[10]
A refrigerator car[170][171]
Locomotive owned by a leasing company[172][unreliable source?]
Reporting mark
A code assigned by the Association of American Railroads to identify the owners of rolling stock in North America
Right Way
A "high nose" locomotive running with the long hood facing forward. Reminiscent of the Southern Railway and the Norfolk & Western Railway style of running locomotives.[citation needed]
Nickname for HHP-8 electric locomotives used by Amtrak for Northeast Regional service[citation needed]
Roster shooter
Someone interested in photographing every locomotive road number they can[173][174]
Rubies or cherries
Stop signal aspect (red colored signal lights), or a red aspect in conjunction with other colors[citation needed]
Run through
A train that originates on one railroad, with its destination on another road, that is simply "run through" to its destination instead of being exchanged for home road rolling stock at the crew-change point, in order to save expense[175][176]
Running boards or grating
Walkboards found on the tops and ends of rail cars[177]


Screamer or screaming thunderbox
A 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).[49][178] Coined by MBTA railfans.[citation needed]
Canadian National SD60F 5500 in the sergeant stripes paint scheme
Sergeant Stripes
A Canadian National locomotive in the 1970s and 1980s paint scheme featuring light grey stripes on the locomotive's long hood[179]
To push a cut of cars backward with a locomotive[180][181]
Adjacently numbered locomotives[citation needed]
A wheel chock[182][183]
Skittles Consist, Skittles Line Up, or Rainbow Consist
A group of locomotives of different colors or liveries leading a single train—so named for the appearance of various colored Skittles candies[citation needed]
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"[34][39]
A locomotive with a diesel engine, but does not have traction motors, often used for external power for a rotary snow plow[184]
Speeder, motorcar, trackcar, putt putt, or golf cart
A small, motorized track inspection vehicle[185]
A nickname for double-stacked cars or trains[186]
Stealth Unit
The early CSX grey & blue paint scheme. So named for their virtual invisibility in poor light. Also refers to NS D9-40CWs in light gray primer paint, and a scheme used on some Metro-North locomotives.[10]


A nickname for a Reading Railroad T-1 4-8-4 steam locomotive[citation needed]
Taco Belle
A nickname for the new Southern Belle-inspired paint scheme on Kansas City Southern Railway locomotives assigned to subsidiary KCS de Mexico[187][unreliable source?]
Thunder Pumpkin
A nickname for the orange paint scheme on the BNSF locomotives[citation needed]
Tie down
To apply hand brakes to the trainset[188][189][190]
An Amtrak AEM-7—sometimes called a toaster due to its boxy shape
Amtrak AEM-7, New Jersey Transit ABB ALP-44, or GE P42DC locomotives, due to its visual appearance and tendency to emit sparking and clicking sounds when idling. Also sometimes 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.[10][49]
When a single stack train coming from reduced clearance territory has additional containers placed on top for the rest of its trip; the opposite of filet[96]
Tropicana, Reefer, Boxcar. Shortened from Tropicana, referring to the orange or white refrigerated boxcars used to haul frozen concentrated orange juice to packaging facilities north of Florida. Term is specifically used by CSX crews in Cincinnati Terminal where a large such packaging facility is located.[citation needed]
Tunnel Motor
Southern Pacific EMD SD40T-2 or EMD SD45T-2. Named for the lower-located air intakes to prevent the locomotive from pulling diesel exhaust in with the clean air while traveling through a tunnel.[191][unreliable source?][192]
A local freight train that makes a round trip, returning to originating station[193][194]


A GE Universal Series locomotive[10][195]


Vomit Bonnet
A derogatory name for BNSF's first attempt at a paint scheme, which used olive and beige as its principal colors but in the configuration of the traditional AT&SF "Warbonnet" scheme[196][unreliable source?][197]


Santa Fe Dash 8 #881 at CN's Battle Creek fueling depot, displaying the modern interpretation of the classic red and silver warbonnet livery
The combined Super Chief/El Capitan passenger train at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in 1966 showing the red and silver warbonnet livery
Santa Fe's red and silver paint scheme.[198] The scheme first appeared in 1937 on the railroad's E1 passenger locomotives for the Super Chief train.[199] It is widely considered the most famous and the most recognizable of railroad color schemes.[200][201] The Santa Fe phased out its use from the early 1970s on, then revived it in 1989.[202] It has become less common since the BNSF Railway merger in 1995.[203]
The BNSF orange and black update of the classic Santa Fe Warbonnet scheme[10]
M.U. cars, subway cars, and other equipment made with corrugated side panels that resembled washboards[204][205]
Wet Noodle
Canadian National's stylized CN logo, in use since 1961[10]
The first version of Norfolk Southern's "Horsehead" paint scheme.[citation needed] High visibility paint scheme used on various Burlington Northern locomotives, primarily SD60Ms, SD40-2s, GP50s, GP39 rebuilds, and GP28 rebuilds.[206][207][unreliable source?]
A nickname for the DL&W electric multiple unit cars because of their wicker lined seats[208]
A nickname for Metra's fleet of EMD F40PHM-2 locomotives, in reference to that model's resemblance to the popular recreational vehicle[10]


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.[209]
A CSX unit wearing the YN2 paint scheme
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[210]
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[210]
CSX's third yellow-nose paint scheme; dark blue overall with a yellow nose; yellow "CSX" lettering[citation needed]


Zebra Stripes
A Santa Fe locomotive in the early black scheme with white warning stripes.[211] CN Rail has also used this scheme on earlier locomotives.[212][213]
An intermodal train (such as the ZBRLC or ZLTLC). Such trains are commonly operated by BNSF and Union Pacific. Usually the hottest (fastest), highest priority train.[214]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The EMD SD70 Series". American Rails. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Jeff (2009). The Model Railroader's Guide to Diesel Locomotives. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-89024-761-7. 
  3. ^ "Road Testing the ACe". Railfan & Railroad (Carstens Publications) 23: 20. 2004. 
  4. ^ "Atlas O's Trainman Alco RSD-7/15". Model Railroad News 13 (10). October 2007. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  5. ^ Burton, Sandy (July 1985). "Alligators in the North Woods". Railfan & Railroad: 48–55. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "US Railfan Jargon" (PDF). NTRACKAGE Writes (New Mexico Rail Runners) (199): page 5. October 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  7. ^ "Nicknames or colloquial terms for rail cars and locomotives". Corona Yard. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
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  212. ^ Milland, Russ (October 6, 2009). "CN F7 #9159 - A 58 Year Journey - Part 1 of Several". Toronto Railway Historical Association. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  213. ^ "Road Switchers". Canadian National Railways Historical Association. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Glossary – From Railway Technical Webpages