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The Signal

Metra's Railroad Slang Quiz

(January 20, 2017) - 

Eavesdrop on a conversation at a hospital, office or restaurant and you’re likely to hear a string of slang words that leave you wondering what was said. Conversations in the railroad industry are no different. Railroad employees use their unique jargon cultivated over generations and used in every aspect of communication.

Some of these words translate well or are easy to understand. Take switch, for example. Other terms, not so much. Torpedo, fillet and bam-bam come to mind.

How fluent in railroad slang are you? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and find out below.

  1. A casting with "X" shaped grooves used in switches and crossovers.
    1. Transfer
    2. Crossing component
    3. X-point
    4. Frog


  1. Slang word for a tie.
    1. Twig
    2. Toothpick
    3. Timber
    4. Flatboard
  2. A whistle post is an object that gives advance warning to the engineer of an upcoming ________.
    1. Grade crossing
    2. Station
    3. Freight line
    4. Construction site
  3. A temporary stretch of track that takes trains around construction or an accident scene.
    1. Diverter
    2. Runway
    3. Shoofly
    4. Track around
  4. A locomotive used in yard switching service.
    1. Switch Mule
    2. Goat
    3. Beast
    4. Track crawler


  1. Frog
  2. Toothpick
  3. Grade crossing
  4. Shoofly
  5. Goat

How did you do? Do you have any other unique railroad terms that you’d like to share? Let us know by commenting on our Facebook post here.

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