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Thread: Train Codes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Medellin, Colombia
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    Default Train Codes

    Browsing the web a few years back I found out all about tags that are assigned to a train in order to identify it.

    They go something like this: Z CHCLAU9 18

    I remember the Z is the type of cargo, CHC is origin, LAU is destination, but what are the others?

    Also, is there a place that lists all the abbreviations (C is coal, G is grain, etc.)?

    Many thanks
    Juan Botero

  2. #2
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    well normally identifications like that, the last 3 numbers refers to the date on which this train left it's point of origin, so in your example, the train left on September 18th. On BNSF, Z stands for "intermodal". I have no idea their basis for that. Some railroads though use a four letter system with the first two letters naming origin, and the last two naming destination. When there's multiple trains coming from and going to the same place, a number would be added onto the end of the letters. Trust me, some American Railroad practices don't make much sense unless you really do understand American Railroading....
    Thom
    <b><font size=1><font color=Navy><a href=http://i159.photobucket.com/albums/t159/CRQ5508/Random%20Stuff/CRQ5508.jpg target=_blank>http://i159.photobucket.com/albums/t...ff/CRQ5508.jpg</a></font></font></b>
    Norfolk Southern: It looks like Darth Vader on rails to me.

  3. #3
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    If you look at every intermodal railroad qualified trailer with railroading reporting marks, they end in Z. REAZ, BNZ, UPSZ, etc... Kind of like how non-railroad reporting marks always end in X. Which is why CSX has CSXT on all of it's cars.

    To answer your other question, for the BNSF:

    TYPE TRAIN-TYPE CODE DESCRIPTION
    A - Amtrak Trains Operating on BNSF Track
    B - Bare Table Flat Intermodal Trains
    C - Loaded Unit Coal Trains
    D - Light Locomotive/Engine Moves
    E - Empty Unit Coal Trains
    F - Foreign Train Operating on BNSF Track
    G - Loaded Unit Grain Trains
    H - Hi-Priority Merchandise Trains
    I - Deadhead Crew Moves
    J - High/Wide Dimensional Specials
    K - Helper Service
    L - Local Trains (Regularly Scheduled)
    M - Regular Merchandise Trains
    N - Hours-of-Service Relief Crew
    O - Officers Special Trains
    P - Premium Service Intermodal Trains
    Q - Guaranteed Service Intermodal Trains
    R - Road Switcher Trains (Regularly Scheduled)
    S - Container Stack Intermodal Trains
    T - Transfer Service (Interchange Delivery/Receipt)
    U - Unit Trains other than Coal or Grain
    V - Vehicle Unit Trains (Autos and Auto Parts)
    W - Work/Maintenance Trains
    X - Empty Unit Grain Trains
    Y - Yard Jobs (Regularly Scheduled)
    Z - Priority UPS - LTL Intermodal Trains

    Also, the last two numbers refer to the date, the 1st number refers to the priority:

    Character 1: Identifies type of train. (See below)

    Characters 2-4: Identifies the origin station (3 letter alpha character abbreviation). Locals and Road Switchers will indicate division abbreviation.

    Characters 5-7: Identifies the destination station (3 letter alpha character abbreviation). Locals and Road Switchers will be a numeric identifier.

    Character 8: Identifies the priority of the train (1-lowest, 9-highest).

    Characters 9-10: Calendar day of the month the train originates (2 numeric character).

    I'm not going to copy over the Station Designations, but they are here if you want more info.

    Hope that helps!

    Robert
    Last edited by rdamurphy; 07-09-2008 at 03:47 AM.

  4. #4
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    Many thanks to all, just what I was looking for.

    Very helpful indeed.
    Juan Botero

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by CRQ5508 View Post
    well normally identifications like that, the last 3 numbers refers to the date on which this train left it's point of origin, so in your example, the train left on September 18th. On BNSF, Z stands for "intermodal". I have no idea their basis for that. Some railroads though use a four letter system with the first two letters naming origin, and the last two naming destination. When there's multiple trains coming from and going to the same place, a number would be added onto the end of the letters. Trust me, some American Railroad practices don't make much sense unless you really do understand American Railroading....
    BNSF's "Z" actually is a High priority symbol, Z-CHCLAU (Chicago to Laurel, MT) is never a strict Intermodal, the video I shot of it has piggybacks in front and mixed freight in back.

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