Rail brands deciphered

Ask Trains from the September 2015 issue
This line of numbers and letters is a rail brand. Deciphered correctly, they show railroads the weight, maker, treatment, design, and manufacture date of a rail.
Ed Funkhouser
Q I saw these numbers and letters on the side of a rail near Mebane, N.C. Can you tell me what they mean? – Ed Funkhouser, Raleigh, N.C.

A The numbers and letters are a rail brand, and railroads use it to keep track of their rails and easily identify sections in need of replacement.

On the rail you saw, 132 is the weight in pounds per yard of the rail. “RE” is the section type or design specification of the rail, in this case, it is American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association standard rail. “VT” stands for vacuum treated, which is one way to coax excess hydrogen out of hot steel to keep it from forming defects when cooling. “PST” refers to the rail maker, Pennsylvania Steel Technologies, which is a successor to Bethlehem Steel. “2002” is the year of manufacture, while the hash marks count months. Here, nine hash marks mean the rail was rolled in September. – Steve Sweeney
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of TrainsMag.com are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.
Big Boy

Big Boy

All about the world's biggest locomotive


Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today