Railroading Glossary
The following glossary is arranged alphabetically with each term catalogued by first letter. Select a letter below to begin.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Walschaerts
A light, and easy to inspect and maintain arrangement of steam locomotive valve gear invented by Edige Walschaerts in 1844, and common in America after 1900.
Washout
Gap or break in the railroad tracks, ballast, and roadbed caused by floodwaters. Also, a signal to the engineer to make an emergency brake application.
Water glass
Device in the cab of a steam locomotive by which the water level in the boiler may be monitored by the engine crew. Indicates the depth that water is covering the boiler's crownsheet, as it should be to prevent an explosion.
Waybill
Document containing information about a specific freight shipment, such as the shipper, consignee, routing information, car initials and number, description and weight of the commodity being shipped, and billing information.
Waycar
Term used on some railroads for a caboose.
Wayfreight
A local freight train.
Welded rail
See Continuous welded rail.
West Shore
Nickname for the former West Shore Railroad (New York, West Shore & Buffalo) that ran along the west shore of the Hudson River and south bank of the Mohawk River. Largely abandoned west of Albany, NY, but in use as CSX Transportation's River Line south of Albany.
Wheel report
Paperwork listing the cars in a train, as well as the contents and destination of each car, and other information derived from the waybill.
Wheel slip
Condition that occurs when the driving wheel of a locomotive rotates at a speed faster than that of the train itself decreasing the locomotive's pulling power; akin to the wheel of a motor vehicle spinning in snow without any resulting forward or backward motion. May occur when a locomotive begins pulling a heavy train from a standing stop, or as a result of slippery wet rails.
Window
Period of time when trains are not permitted to operate. Generally placed in effect to allow maintenance of way employees to work on tracks or signals without interruption from moving trains (also referred to as a curfew). Can also be used to describe predetermined intervals of time when a train may or may not run. For example, freight trains that share tracks with high-speed passenger trains may only be allowed to operate during specified windows of time when their movement will not disrupt passenger train operations.
Winton
An early manufacturer of diesel engines.
Work train
A train used in service to a railroad company, for which no revenue is received.
Wye
A triangular arrangement of tracks forming the letter Y used for turning cars and engines.
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