Railroad Slang

by Bill Prieger, NERR Engineer #269
and others

North America



North America

Rail Lingo Glossary:
Below you will find a list of commonly used rail slang. While some may not sound like slang, they are in the sense that the rail version of the word carries a different connotation from the everyday meaning. Also, this is by no means a complete glossary; just a compilation of slang that is still used to some extent today. So, if you're ready, here we go.

This document in no way, written or implied, reflects the management's view or endorsement, nor does it imply a policy change in NERR operations or work order development. This document is just information and intended for the fun of the NERR brethren. No copyright is enforced either. You can read it, copy it, bend it, fold it, mutilate it, blow your nose in it, or wipe your butt with it. But only if you have fun with it.

The slang term is given first, with a translation to the right of it. I've include notes where these terms can be used to help explain some of the things MSTS does that are beyond our control, or how to use the slang in an MSTS situation.

General Terms:

  • angle cock - Lever that is turned to open or close off air from one car to another.

  • augment - Temporary reassignment to another division that may be short on hoggers (see below for the meaning of that term) or conductors. (a low seniority move).

  • B/O car, bad order car - Railcar requiring repair.

  • bare table - An empty TOFC, COFC or double stack train.

  • Big "O", the brains, skipper, pin puller - Conductor.

  • bighole, bighole it, dump the air - Emergency brake application.

  • black snake - Loaded coal train.

  • blocked train - A train whose cars are assembled in a particular order.

  • Brethren - Fellow operating department workers.

  • bridge - A rail bridge where some supports are above rail grade.

  • business train - Passenger train hauling company officials.

  • car knocker, carman - Person who inspects and repair railcars.

  • carmen - Plural for the above. (Note: not associated in any way with the supermodel of the '90s.)

  • chipper - Wood chip car.

  • clerk, customer service rep - Converts a customer's needs to traffic. Kinda like our work order writers.

  • consist - Any train, no matter what the make up or configuration.

  • cow cage, pig palace - Livestock car.

  • crewhaul, carryall - Same as "deadhead" but with a cab or company crew vehicle.

  • crummy, hack, cab, head shed, brain shack - Caboose.

  • Crystal Palace - Company headquarters.

  • deadhead - To move from home terminal to away terminals or trains on the division. Usually done by riding a train going toward your desired on-duty point.

  • dragger - Railcar with something dragging on the ground; also refers to a dragging equipment detector.

  • drawbar - The bar portion of a coupler that houses the knuckle.

  • dual control switch - A switch that can be thrown from a remote location, or manually by moving a handle. (generally found in CTC territory)

  • dynamiter - A railcar with a malfunctioning triple valve. This defect causes a train to go into emergency any time an automatic brake reduction is made. Requires all train speed reductions to be made with the dynamic brakes.

  • dynamos - Dynamic brake mode of a diesel locomotive.

  • Extra Board - A group of stand-by engineers, conductors and brakeman that fill jobs when the "pool" is used up. (Low seniority)

  • eyeballs - Locomotive headlights, i.e.: dim your eyeballs when you're entering a yard.

  • F.R.E.D., tellies - F#^*$%@ Rear End Device, Federal Rear End Device. A flashing marker attached to the end of a train that is coupled into the train's brake pipe. Signals from the FRED (such as the brake pipe pressure on the rear of the train) are then transmitted to the leading locomotive via radio. Newer FREDs can also transmit telemetry data.

  • facing point move - To proceed through a switch from the point on in the connecting track.
    FB7, FB8 - 70 ft and 80 ft bulkhead flatcars. Note: Most Class 1 railroads enforce a 40 mph speed restriction on most FB's.

  • flatspot - A flat area created on a wheel face by dragging the wheel.

  • flatspot detector - A detector, usually located on long downhill grades, which warns of cars with severe flatspot. (MSTS: can be a way of adding work on long boring run thru's).

  • foamer, GERF (Glassy Eyed RailFan), rail paparazzi - A railfan (no disrespect implied).

  • FOO - (F*@# old Orville) - Screw what the RFE or Trainmaster says. A meaning of disrespect to a management decision regarding a train movement.

  • FRA, Federalies - Federal Railroad Administration, branch of government that enforces, implements and dictates safe train practices.

  • gas can - Tank car carrying petroleum.

  • get the air back - Resetting a penalty application or emergency brake application. Refers to an automatic brake release.

  • goat, switcher - Switch engine.

  • gon - Gondola.

  • greaser, flange oiler - Device that automatically adds lubricant to the flange portion of a wheel. Usually positioned at the entrance to sharp curves. (A real headache when trying to get a heavy train up a grade especially in rain).

  • heat kink, sun kink - A condition that happens in long welded rail sections. If there is not enough rail gap to allow for rail expansion the track will literally develop a large kink. Usually why speed restrictions are enforced on really hot days. One of these can derail a train.

  • helpers - Locomotives added to a train en route to assist in climbing or descending grades.

  • herder - High seniority switchman's job. His job is to line switches into a railyard all the way to the receiving track or line out departing trains. (MSTS: may be a way to explain how the switches are magically lined all the way to a receiving track even in large yards. Maybe NERR can adopt this position for its vast array of railyards.)

  • herder, hostler - Hogger who removes power from inbound trains and/or adds power to outbound trains from the roundhouse or service area.

  • hogger, hoghead - engineer.

  • hopper - An open or enclosed car that drops its contents through a door or set of doors on the bottom of the car. Generally, covered hoppers are used for grain or granular loads that must be protected from the elements. Open hoppers are used for aggregate (rock, sand, ore, etc.) or loads that can be exposed to the elements.

  • hotbox - Overheated or overheating wheel bearing journal. A "hotbox detector" will scan a train's journals for similar problem.

  • hump yard - A yard where railcars are rearranged by rolling down a hill into a series of tracks.

  • knuckle - Hinged coupling portion on a coupler.

  • ladder - A section of track with three or more tracks branching of in close succession.

  • lash up - Two or locomotives coupled together.

  • lay-off - To take time off from work.

  • mark-up - To return to work i.e.: extra board, freight pool, passenger pool.

  • Mary, Wilma - Head end (locomotive) telemetry receiver. Black box with air pressure gauge and various lights and buttons located on top of engine stand.

  • midtrain helpers - Helpers positioned in the middle portion of a train.

  • oil can - Tank car carrying oil.

  • pig, pigtrain, TOFC - Trailers on flatcar.

  • pocket - A small siding that holds only a few railcars.

  • pool - A group of engineers or conductors that usually work mainline higher priority trains. (High seniority)

  • pool agreement - An agreement made between two or more railroads to allow utilization of each others locomotives. Can also be an agreement between management and the union for the "pool" crews mentioned above.

  • power, hog, pig, battleship, unit - Locomotive.

  • rear end helper - Locomotive positioned on rear of train.

  • rip track - railcar repair track...Repair In Place.

  • Road Foreman of Engineers, RFE - Person in charge of engineers.

  • roundhouse - Building either circular in shape or square (modern version) where motive power equipment is repaired or altered.

  • scab-train - Train owned by a non-union affiliated railroad. (about the lowest priority train in union crews eyes to run)

  • scab - Non-union railroad employee.

  • sectioned train - A train that is transported in two or more parts due to excessive length or weight.

  • short time rating - The red zone on a diesel locomotives amp gauge (measures electric current in amperes). Running your train for too long in this zone can damage or shorten the life of a traction motor.

  • shotgunned train - A train whose railcars are in no particular order.

  • snake, reptile, railbender - Switchman.

  • spring switch - A switch, when trailed through, that returns automatically to its original position.

  • stacker, double stack, COFC - Containers on flatcars.

  • stinger, shack, roughneck, groundhog, pin puller, pin man, field man - Brakeman.

  • student - new engineer.

  • tallowpot, diamond hustler, fireboy, bake head, coal heaver, bell ringer - Fireman.

  • tower - Where the yardmaster is located. A building that allows full view of a rail yard.

  • TPAD, Tons per axle dynamic - Amount of total train tonnage divided by the amount of functioning locomotive axles in dynamic brake mode. Note: TPOB & TBAD are 2 figures that should be provided the engineer any time the train configuration is change or prior to any departure.

  • TPOB, tons per operative brake - A term relating to how many tons your train has per operating brakes on the railcars. (Formula: Amount of total train tonnage divided by amount of railcars in your train; does not include power) The higher the TPOB number is the harder it will be to stop the train.

  • traction motor - An electrical device (motor) that turns the wheels of a diesel or electric locomotive.

  • trailing point move - To proceed through a switch from the rear toward the point of the switch.

  • Trainmaster - A person in charge of conductors. Also may make decisions on train movements that require management's direction.

  • trestle - A rail bridge in which all of the supports a below track grade.

  • V-switch, variable switch - A switch that can be trailed through without lining first; will stay in position that was trailed through.

  • varnish - Passenger train.

  • wagon, buggy, car - Any railcar.

  • wye - A track that is connected to another in a triangle shape that is used to turn rail equipment or allows a track to be entered from either direction.

  • yard - Two or more tracks where trains are made up or rearranged.


Part 2: Slang related to Train Movements:

  • A-head, Back - These two commands are governed by the direction of the controlling locomotive. So if the cars are coupled to the front of the controlling locomotive, "A-Head" would mean to shove on the cars, and "Back" would mean to pull on the cars. If the cars are coupled to the rear of the controlling locomotive, "A-Head" would mean to pull on the cars, and "Back" would mean to shove on the cars. Dang, I think I just gave myself a headache.

  • ballface, ballface move - This is the term given for a long reverse or shove movement. Also refers to having to run the locomotive backwards or long hood forward or steam engine backwards (tender forward) for a prolonged distance or period of time. Now I really have a headache.

  • bend iron - To throw a switch into its other than normal position.

  • bend the rail, bending iron - Lining a switch for other than normal position.

  • bottle the air - To close the anglecocks on both ends of a charged cut of cars, thus not allowing them to not have an emergency brake application when separated.

  • buff force - The action of a train shoving on a locomotive(s), i.e. dynamic brake mode of controlling or reducing train speed.

  • bunch 'em up - To cause the railcars to run in.

  • comin' in - Close to coupling to a railcar.

  • cut 'em off - To separate from.

  • cut - A car or group of cars in any train.

  • cut behind # - Means to separate the train X number of cars behind the locomotive(s), i.e. "We're going to cut behind the head 2 cars and go into the siding."

  • down a notch - To move the throttle lever down one quadrant.

  • Dutch drop, drop - To pull a car up to speed, then pin off, pull power ahead into clear, then line switch allowing the car to roll into the clear on its own momentum. (MSTS: I have successfully completed this move, but it takes a lot of practice!)

  • Eastman, Westman, Northman, Southman - refers to a train travelling in a specified direction. i.e.: I'm putting you into the hole for one Eastman. Translation: "I'm putting you into the siding for one Eastbound train."

  • easy, ease 'er down - Slow down.

  • floating - Act of allowing a train to move along under its own momentum with no regard to stretching or bunching.

  • flying cut - To pin off rear helpers or rear cars with out stopping the train. (Common move in helper districts)

  • foul - Any equipment that is not clear of an adjacent track.

  • gather em' up - To couple together 2 or more cars at a slow rate of speed until all the cars are coupled, i.e. "OK, let's gather up all the rip cars and take 'em out."

  • hang, hang 1, hang2, etc. - Hold on to X number of cars and take them with the locomotive.,i.e. "We're going to hang the head three cars and go into the siding."

  • head - Front.

  • highball, yard on it, pull 'er back - Maximum allowable speed. Also, a "highball" is a signal given the conductor when the train is ready to depart.

  • hold the main - To occupy the main track at a train meet.

  • hole, the hole - Siding.

  • hook, joint, pin - To couple to a railcar.

  • jack, jack'n the throttle - To move the throttle excessively causing unwanted slack action. (MSTS: This action will usually get you a damage freight notation on your evaluation report, or worse yet a broken knuckle on your train.)

  • kick, kick 'em - To throttle up rapidly and the pin off the car, allowing it to proceed under its own momentum.

  • lace, lace 'em up, air, makin' air, air time, bendin' weenies, in between - To connect the main air hoses between 2 railcars.

  • make a hook - Engineer makes the hook with no direction from conductor; a light engine move; or the act of coupling cars together.

  • node, node point - The point in a train where the cars are neither bunched or stretched.

  • pick-up, P/U - To retrieve a car or number of cars from a general location, i.e. pick up all the cars at Burkes siding.

  • pin - To bunch the train enough to release the coupler locking feature. (MSTS: This movement is required on front coupler hooks and coupler releases.)

  • pin one off, pin two off, etc. - To release a car or cut of cars and allow them to continue on their own momentum.

  • pinch 'em off, poke 'em off - To shove a car off the outside of a curve from excessive buff forces.

  • plug it! - Put the train into emergency brake application quickly.

  • pull - To pick up a car or cut of cars from a specified location, i.e. "We're going to pull 2 cars from under the gantry crane at Bill's Lumber spur."

  • re-spot - To return a car or cut of cars to a specified location at the end of a switching move. (adding or removing cars at the location of the spot)

  • release - To remove the brakes, or undo a brake application.

  • rip spot - To spot a car or cars to the repair track. If more than one car, all cars are to be separated by at least 3 feet.

  • roll by - An inspection done on a moving train either from the ground (MOW, yard crew, or "other" railroad employee) or from a train traveling in the opposite direction.

  • set - To apply brakes to a car or train.

  • set out, S/O - To leave a car or cut of cars in a general location, i.e. "We'll S/O the head 10 cars at Burkes siding."

  • slack action - Excessive unwanted run in and run out in your train.

  • sliding meet - Where two trains pass each other with out either train having to come to a complete stop. This is cool when it happens, a sign of perfect timing.

  • spot - To position a car or cut of cars at a specified location, i.e. "We're going to spot these cars under the gantry crane at Bill's Lumber spur."

  • stretch, stretch 'em - To pull on the train to remove all slack.

  • stringline - To pull a car or cut of cars off the track on a curve.

  • tail - Rear.

  • take the scenic route - To run through the siding in a meet or when the main track is out of service or occupied.

  • that'll do - Stop.

  • tie-down, tie your train down, tie 'er down - To secure your train or locomotives for a prolonged period of time. This move consists of applying the locomotive brakes, minimum train brake application of 20 psi, center and remove the reverser, open the generator field switch, dim or extinguish the headlights, lock the controlling locomotive's doors, and apply a sufficient number of handbrakes to prevent unwanted movement of the train.

  • tie-up point - The place where you are going to secure your locomotive at the end of your work day.

  • tie handbrakes - Apply the handbrakes on any car or engine.

  • tie up - To secure your locomotive at the end of your work day.

  • up a notch - To move the throttle lever up one quadrant.

  • weld 'em - To make a hook at an excessive speed usually considered above 4 mph on railcars, 2 mph on motive power, passenger equipment and hazardous cars or cars carrying delicate inventory.

  • wing 'er, grab some air, pinch it down - Set brakes on a moving train.


Part 3: General slang:

  • anglebar, joint bar - 2 pieces of steel used to hold rail joint together.

  • bleedin' air, train's a leaker - Excessive air leak.

  • bleed rod - The lever that, when pulled or pushed, allows all the air in a cars air tanks to vent off, thus releasing all brakes except handbrakes.

  • bleed the air - To remove all the air from a car's brake system by pulling the bleed rod.

  • boomer - Employee on a division for a short time, an employee who moves around a lot either within a specific railroad or from railroad to railroad (MSTS: NERR has a lot of Boomers.)

  • bull, dick - Special agent, patrolman or police officer.

  • charged - Railcar or cut of cars whose air reservoirs have not been bled off.

  • crow's nest - Cupola on a caboose.

  • drag 'em - Pull hard on while your train brakes are applied.

  • dry - A car or cut of cars whose air reservoirs have not been charged, i.e. contain no air.

  • elephant style - All motive power units facing the same direction.

  • fired - Suspended.

  • full head of steam - Even in the modern age of diesels, this term still means to pull with everything the locomotives got, i.e. your locomotive's making good power and pulling well.

  • fully charged - Means all the cars in your train have all reservoirs charged to the full pressure of the automatic brake valve. (Usually, freight = 90 psi, Amtrak/passenger = 110 psi)

  • fusee - Flare. A device used to flag protect trains at night.

  • gag my hopper - I leave this one up to you. I have no idea what it means. My guess is a statement of surprise.

  • go pound salt - Go to hell. Get outta here.

  • go to beans - Eat lunch.

  • high iron - Mainline or high speed track.

  • hook, big hook - A crane used for re-railing derailed equipment.

  • hotshot - High speed priority train.

  • lay down some grit - Apply sand to rail.

  • on the ground, grounded - Derailed.

  • on the rail - Car wheels are positioned properly on railhead.

  • pullin' the pin - To retire.

  • Queen Mary - Light engine move.

  • railhead - Top of rail.

  • sticks - (MOW Term) Rails or ties depending upon how it is used.

  • split switch - To trail through an improperly lined switch and then reverse through it causing the train to go down 2 separate tracks (translated: Derailment)

  • tie 'er up - To secure the locomotive at the end of your work day.

  • torpedo - A device, placed on top of the rail, that explodes when run over, providing an audible noise, used prior to unforeseen speed restrictions.

  • Track 7 - To get screwed as in "The agreement between the union and management has got us stuck out on Track 7".

  • work it - Pull hard on your train.

Steam Jargon:

Due to the extensive list of steam lingo, I have included below the website for this area. The list is several pages long, and you can print the glossary from the website. Since the NERR does have steam power, I encourage everyone to check out the website.



  • Jeremy Levish (aka Taz) - Thanks for the lists, they helped a lot. Didn't realize how much I forgot in 3 years.

  • Brian Element (aka elementb) - Thank you for allowing me to share this with the rest of the brethren, and for putting it where they can find it. Also for your patience concerning the multiple emails containing updated versions.

  • All the people associated with the NERR for giving me a hell of place to play. You can't hide. I know who you are.



Amex To cancel a train, e.g. "the train was Amexed". From the telegraph code AMEX, meaning train cancelled.
Banjo Fireman's shovel on a steam locomotive. Also "bat".
Bat Phone (Victoria) Train to base radio.
Beer test Determining the quality of the track and ride by watching a plastic cup of beer. Rough riding or excessive cant deficiency will cause the beer to spill. May be performed at your seat (if it has a fold down table or a suitable window sill) or in a dining/buffet/club car. Can also be performed with a cup of coffee or, as an absolute last resort, with a glass of water.
Beetle (1) Victorian AEC railmotor.
(2) NSW
46 class
electric locomotive.
Big wheel Express passenger train driver. Also "Big wheel roster".
Blinky Bill See Bog Lights.
Blister "Please Explain" message from head office.
Blocko (Victoria) Safe working inspector.
Bluebird South Australian Railways 250 class railcar, so called because of their original livery, and all were named after birds
Bobo (Queensland) Batteries on, batteries off. Generic term for resetting faults on diesel-electric locomotives.
BOG Battery-Operated Guard. One of the alternative names for an End-of-Train Marker (ETM), a portable transponder fitted to the rear of a freight train.
Bog Lights Flashing light(s) on a BOG.
Bona Train consisting of just an engine and a guard's van. From the telegraph code BONA.
Bone (Victoria) N class diesel locomotive, so called because of their shape.
Booze Cruise Special train on which large amounts of alcohol are consumed.
Bottle opener Lock pin from a steel brake shoe. Can be used for removing screw plugs from axle boxes - and for opening beer bottles.
Brick NSW 81 class diesel locomotive, so called because of its shape (also the Victorian G class and ANR BL class which were identical). Also "flying brick".
Bug See Bumblebee, Millennium Bug.
Butter box (Victoria) E class (2nd series) electric locomotive, so called because of their shape.
Bumblebee CityRail Millennium train or "M set". See also Millennium Bug.
Bun Ticket Meal allowance. An extra payment for your shift, if you can stretch it out.
Bung See "blister".
Bustitute A bus substituting for a train, such as during track work. Also bustitution.
Cockie's Breakfast Meal cooked on the fireman's shovel.
Crib Train crew meal break.
Death Warrant Form signed by a railway enthusiast, waiving any injury claim against the railway, thus allowing the railfan to travel in the van of a goods train.
Diseasel Diesel. Used by steam fans, and occasionally by spark types (q.v.)
Doggie Carriage without a corridor. From "Dog box".
Dolly Varden South Australian narrow gauge passenger/brake van. From the hat style worn by the character of the same name in Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge. The exact connection is disputed.
Ferrochronology Estimating the power of a steam locomotive using only a stopwatch. The calculations are relatively simple if the weight and speed of the train and the elevation/gradient of the track is known.
Flea gauge Narrow gauge. Usually referring to 3'6" gauge in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia or New Zealand, but applied to anything narrower than standard gauge.
Galah / Galahs (Queensland) Railway staff wearing the unusual official uniform of pink shirts and grey shorts. After the Australian native bird with plumage of the same colour as the uniform. This term has been used by the general public.
Gasher (Commonwealth Railways) The Indian Pacific. Although the original meaning of this term is not in common usage, the explanation is not fit for polite consumption.
Gumby / Gumbies (Victoria) Railway staff during the 1980s and early 90s when they had green uniforms. After the cartoon character. This term was used by the general public, notably graffiti artists. See also: Kermit.
Gunzel (1) n. Railway enthusiast. Originally derogatory, referring to overly enthusiastic or foolish railfans (c.f. US "foamer"). Now refers to railfans in general, and the term is often used with pride. Usage originally confined to south eastern states, it has since spread to the whole of Australia and parts of New Zealand. See for example http://www.gunzel.net/. May be used to refer to a specific interest, e.g. "freight gunzel", "tram gunzel".
(2) v. Engage in railway enthusiast activities, e.g. "to gunzel around".
Gunzeling Any sort of railway-related activity, such motorcading and taking photos. E.g. "I was gunzeling around near Bethungra."
Hairyleg Fettler (track maintenance worker).
Hand held dynamometer Stopwatch, when used by ferrochronologists (q.v.).
Hole in the road Catch points used to derail runaway vehicles. Also, the only thing on the railway that works 100% of the time.
Hosebag Flexible brake hose between vehicles. Originally applied to vacuum brake hoses but later spread to air brakes.
Jiffy (1) Loose shunting one or more wagons towards a set of facing points and switching the points to allow the locomotive to run up a parallel road.
(2) Partially releasing and reapplying the train brakes before stopping. Usually refers to a passenger train approaching a station.
Jumbo (1) NSW 442 class diesel locomotive, introduced the same year as the Boeing 747 "jumbo jet" (also SAR/ANR 700 class, which were identical to the 442).
(2) Adelaide
2000 class
suburban railcar.
Kangaroo points (Queensland) Manually operated, weighted trailing points. So named because they jump back into place.
Kermit / Kermits (Victoria) Railway staff during the 1980s and early 90s when they had green uniforms. After the muppet of the same name. This term was also used by the general public. See also: Gumby.
Millennium Bug (New South Wales) CityRail Millennium train (or "M set"), so called because it was to enter service in 1999 but was delayed over 3 years by production problems.
Motorcade (1) v. Following/chasing a train by car for the purpose of taking photos or video.
(2) n. Several/many cars following/chasing a train in convoy.
Nanny NSW C35 class steam locomotive, so called because they were originally called the NN class.
Peg (1) Distance post beside the track, e.g. "derailed near the 176km peg."
(2) Staff, as in Train Staff & Ticket or Electric Staff. A metal rod which was the physical authority to enter a section of single line.
Pig (NSW) C36 class steam locomotive.
Pin Alternative but rarer form of peg (2).
Pinhead Signalman.
Putt Putt (Queensland) Ganger's trolley, used to convey track repair crews or to follow trains to check for fires. From the sound of their small two-stroke engine.
Rat Hole Confined tunnel.
Real brakes Westinghouse air brakes. Used by enthusiasts who loathe vacuum brakes.
Red Fred Queensland AEC railmotor. So called because of their livery.
Red Hen Adelaide 300 and 400 class railcars. So called because of their livery and were introduced shortly after the Bluebirds (q.v.)
Regulation 412 A fictional rule under which anything can be justified.
Silly Circular (Victoria) S Circular, the Victorian equivalent of a Special Train Notice.
Scone Ticket See "Bun Ticket".
Scrounger Locomotive driver who volunteers for the relieving roster. Relieving drivers could be sent anywhere in the state to relieve others who were sick or on leave. Some drivers used the relieving roster as an opportunity for sightseeing.
Silver Bullets Queensland 2000 class railcars.
Snake Charmer (Commonwealth Railways) Fettler employed on the Nullabor Plain.
Spark (1) Electric train or locomotive.
(2) Electric traction enthusiast (also "Sparky" or "Spark type").
Sprag (1) Braking device. A wood or metal chock placed between the spokes of a carriage or wagon without a hand brake (or without any brakes).
(2) The bottom shunter of a gang in a gravitating shunting yard. (Possible origin: the person who put the sprag in unbraked wagons.)
Sputnik Sydney single deck suburban trains built by Commonwealth Engineering between 1957 and 1960. So called because their entry into service coincided with the launch of the Sputnik spacecraft, and they carried the letter S on their target (identification) plates.
Squirt Injector on a steam locomotive.
Stick (1) Originally a Victorian Railways 2-position home signal cleared by an Armstrong lever and latched clear with an electric latch. A train entering the track circuit would release the latch, causing the signal to reset to stop.
(2) Any signal. e.g. "got the stick" means the signal is clear.
(3) Narrow gauge sleeper (South Australia).
Stalerail (Victoria) Newsrail, a railfan magazine notorious for publishing news several months after the event.
Suck System Vacuum brake. Also "Suck and Hope".
Tin Hare (NSW) CPH class rail motor.
U Boat New South Wales stainless steel single deck interurban trains ("U set"). So called because they carried the letter U on their target plates.
Wally (Victoria) Idiot. In use in the general population, but in railway slang has similar connotations to the original meaning of gunzel. From a television commercial featuring a foolish person who wastes water.
Zoly Relief train crew travelling on a passenger train. Used in spoken form by train crews, e.g. "Pick up the Zoly, and we'll be off." From the telegraph code ZOLY.


The views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NERR Administration.
They are the views of the author of the particular news item.