UK railway glossary Free glossaries at translation jobs
Home Free Glossaries Free Dictionaries Post Your Translation Job! Free Articles Jobs for Translators

UK railway glossary

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

Become a member of at just $12 per month (paid per year)


Use the search bar to look for terms in all glossaries, dictionaries, articles and other resources simultaneously

This page contains a list of jargon used to varying degrees by railway enthusiasts / railfans and trainspotters in the United Kingdom, including nicknames for various locomotives and multiple units. Although not exhaustive, many of the entries in this list appear from time to time in specialist, rail-related publications. Inclusion of a term in this list does not necessarily imply its universal adoption by all railfans and enthusiasts, and there may be significant regional variation in usage.

Words in italics indicate terms defined elsewhere in this list.


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


  • Baby Deltic: D5900 class Bo-Bo locomotives constructed by the English Electric company. They used a single Napier Deltic engine/generator combination, as opposed to the two engines/generators layout and Co-Co wheel arrangement of the much longer Deltic locomotives from the same manufacturer, to which they bore a very strong family resemblance.[1]
  • Barbie: Livery of First Group's bus and rail companies up until Feb 2006 – the name comes from the purple and pink packaging of Barbie dolls. First Group are now favouring Neon schemes [3]
A First ScotRail Class 170 DMU in Barbie livery
  • Blood and Custard: Name applied to the Carmine and Cream livery used on BR's coaches during the 1950s and 60s.[7]
  • Bodysnatcher: Class 57 locos – made by transplanting a General Motors reconditioned power unit and alternator into a Class 47 bodyshell. Term used especially by Brush bashers who have not come to terms with their favourite locos being treated in this way.[8]
  • Bone: British Rail Class 58 – from the shape: the body is narrow with wide cabs. (Also called egg timer.) Ironically, one of the final workings of this class was a railfan special called the Bone Breaker which ended in a bufferstop collision and a passenger breaking his leg.[9]
  • Brush: British Rail Class 47, also known as the "Brush Type 4". Followers of this type are often known as "Brush bashers".


  • Cattle: Passengers (particularly commuters, who often complain that they are treated "like cattle")[13]
  • Clag: Originally used to describe the exhaust of steam locomotives, "clag" is a term describing the often spectacular (particularly blackened, as in Class 37, or whitesmoked, as in Class 55) exhaust emissions of many older British diesel locomotives, especially, Classes 52 and 55.[15]
  • Coffee pot : Applied to the shape of Bulleid class Q1 locomotives[16]




  • Ferret and Dartboard: The second British Rail emblem introduced in 1956 featuring a lion rampant holding a wheel. From a distance the wheel has a passing resemblance to a dartboard.[22]
The modern Flying Banana – the Network Rail New Measurement Train (seen here at Dawlish Warren)


  • Gricer: - an old fashioned name for a rail enthusiast. The derivation is much disputed; one theory is that it comes from Richard Grice, a trainspotter who became legendary for having travelled the entire British Rail network.[25]
A British Rail Class 08 Gronk



  • Large Logo livery: one of the first new British Rail locomotive liveries applied after many years of all-over rail blue. For this livery, the loco cabs were entirely 'warning yellow', with black window surrounds (the yellow usually wrapping round behind the cab doors); the main bodysides were still rail blue but featured very large running numbers with a large white British Rail 'double arrow' logo in the middle, the full height of the body. It was applied to refurbished Class 50 locomotives, among others.[32]
Preserved Class 50 50 049 Defiance, in large logo livery



  • Nodding Donkey: The Pacer family of DMUs (from outside a moving Pacer has a bobbing motion, like a nodding donkey)
A BR Mk 3 coach in Neon livery



  • Rat: A British Rail Class 25 or related classes, reputedly originating from a term used on the LMR of British Rail in the 1960s where 25s were as common as "rats";[36] the Scottish-based Class 26 and 27 were sometimes known as "MacRats".[37]
  • Roarer: Early British Rail 25 kV AC electric locomotive of types 'AL1'–'AL5' (later Classes 81, 82, 83, 84, 85), due to the loud whine made by the traction motor cooling fans when the locomotive is at rest. The name originated with the AL3 type. Although the other types exhibit a less noticeable noise, the name is applied equally to any of them.[38]


  • Shed: A Canadian built Class 66 locomotive (from the roof shape and also the corrugated bodysides).[39]
The roof-shape on Class 66 diesel locos resembles that of a garden Shed
  • Slam Door - refers to non-automated passenger carriage doors.
  • Slim Jim: Narrow-bodied version of the British Rail Class 33 – built for the confined loading gauge on the Hastings line. (Also see Crompton and Hastings Unit).[17]


  • Tadpole: 3R DEMUs. Named due to having two vehicles 8 ft 2½ in wide and one vehicle 9 ft 3 in wide.[42]
  • Teddy Bear: Class 14 diesel-hydraulic locomotives for shunting and trip-working.[43] Coined by Swindon Works' foreman George Cole who quipped "We've built the Great Bear, now we're going to build a Teddy Bear!".[44]
  • Thumper: Southern DEMU (BR Classes 201207) – unlike conventional DMUs these used a single, comparatively large diesel engine and electric generator mounted immediately behind one driving cab. The power units made a distinctive "thumping" noise when working hard.[46]
  • Thunderbird: a locomotive kept on standby at a strategic location, ready to rescue a failed train. (From Thunderbirds)[47]
  • Tractor: A British Rail Class 37, possibly from the engine sound, also because they could be found hauling almost anything as a mixed-traffic design.[48]


  • Wessie: Class 442 – from the "Wessex Electric" brand name used at launch.[50]
  • Western: British Rail Class 52 - diesel hydraulic type 4, 74 of which which ran on BR between 1961 and 1977. All were named in a series beginning "Western...". Seven of the class have been preserved.[51]
  • Worst or WorstGroup: derogatory nickname for FirstGroup, especially on First Great Western ('Worst Late Western'[13]) because they are often lambasted for their poor performance, delays, overcrowding and cancellations.[54]


  • Yeoman: Early name for a Class 59 locomotive, the first privately-owned (by Foster Yeoman) locomotives to operate on British Rail, owing to their name being "Yeoman -----" such as 59 001 Yeoman Endeavour.[55]


  1. ^ "Recognition and Equipment information – Class 23". The Railway Centre .com. Retrieved on 2008-01-28. 
  2. ^ "British Railways Western Region diesel-hydraulic locomotives: D6300 index". 
  3. ^ Omnibuses Blog article on Barbie from a bus viewpoint
  4. ^ Gourvish, Terence Richard (2002). British Rail, 1974-97: From Integration to Privatisation. Oxford University Press. p. 182. ISBN 0199269092. 
  5. ^ Green-Hughes, Evan (November 2007). "Rogart 127 to head south". Railways Illustrated: page 38. 
  6. ^ Thomas, Cliff (July 2005). "Alderman A E Draper name back on 'Black Five'". The Railway Magazine 151 (1251): p64. 
  7. ^ "South Devon Railway Ex GWR Coach 276". 
  8. ^ Renown Repulse Restoration Group. "Nicknames". Archived from the original on 2008-02-06. 
  9. ^ a b Class 58 Loco Group
  10. ^ Milner, Chris (July 2005). "SWT 'bubble' named". The Railway Magazine 151 (1251): p77. 
  11. ^ "Our Trains - Chiltern Railways". 
  12. ^ Green-Hughes, Evan (November 2007). "McDonald sells his four DMU cars". Railways Illustrated: page 36. 
  13. ^ a b Daily Mail
  14. ^ "'At least 20 20s' for Barrow Hill diesel jubilee". The Railway Magazine: page 9. July 2007. 
  15. ^ Llangollen Diesels
  16. ^ "Kent Rail: Bulleid Class Q1". 
  17. ^ a b Southern Railway E-mail Group (SREmG).
  18. ^Ellis, Iain (2006), Ellis' British railway Engineering Encyclopedia,, ISBN 1847286437, 9781847286437 
  19. ^ "Devon knows how they make them 37s so greeny!". Railways Illustrated: page 29. December 2007. 
  20. ^ "First HST #43 150 in Fag Packet Livery". 2007-04-09. Retrieved on 2008-03-28. 
  21. ^ "First Great Western Sleeper Fag packet livery". Scale Rail Model Centre. Retrieved on 2008-03-28. 
  22. ^ "Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations". (138.2 - Coats of arms and logos). JHU Press. 2006.,M1. Retrieved on 2008-01-28. 
  23. ^ Bluebell Railway - Early Days 1
  24. ^ "Hornby ‘Goyles’ in OO (Class 31)". Modern Railway Modelling 3: pages 26-27. 2005. 
  25. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  26. ^ Nicholson, Peter (July 2005). "'Grid' owner adds to his collection". The Railway Magazine 151 (1251): p84. 
  27. ^ "Hornby ‘Gronk’ (Class 08/09)". Modern Railway Modelling 4: pages 26-27. 2005. 
  28. ^ "A real 'Growler' on the South Devon". The Railway Magazine 151 (1251): p10. July 2005. 
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ Nicholson, Peter (July 2007). "Swindon's 'Hoover' goes to school". The Railway Magazine: page 86. 
  31. ^ Reed, Brian (1974). Diesel-Hydraulic Locomotives of the Western Region. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. ISBN 0-715367-69-2. 
  32. ^ Chilton, Phil (November 2007). "The University of Shackerstone, locomotive division!". Railways Illustrated: page 17. 
  33. ^ Co-Bo World
  34. ^ Hopkins, Simon (November 2007). "Bridgnorth's stalwart 'Mickey Mouse' is focus of charter". Steam Railway 343: page 24. 
  35. ^ "Peak to be sold". Railways Illustrated: page 36. November 2007. 
  36. ^ Kemp, Steve (December 2007). "'Rat' resurrected on the 'main line'". Railways Illustrated: page 12. 
  37. ^ Rat Roadshow
  38. ^ Chris, Shaw (1991). The AC Electrics (Rail Portfolios no. 13). Ian Allan. p. 7 (top caption). ISBN 0 7110 1938 X. 
  39. ^ Staines, David (December 2007). "High-speed one: a 'Teddy Bear's picnic!". Railways Illustrated: pages 22-25. 
  40. ^ "News Pictorial". Railways Illustrated: page 43. March 2008. 
  41. ^ "Cornish Capers". Railways Illustrated: page 24. March 2008. 
  42. ^ Glover, John (2001). Southern Electric. Hersham: Ian Allan. p. 93. ISBN 0 7110 2807 9. 
  43. ^ Staines, David (December 2007). "High-speed one: a 'Teddy Bear's picnic!". Railways Illustrated: pages 22-25. 
  44. ^ The Railway magazine, December 2006
  45. ^ Wilson, Matt (November 2007). "This is the way to celebrate your 50th. birthday!". Railways Illustrated: page 27. 
  46. ^ Nicholson, Peter (July 2005). "'Thumper' trailer finds a home". The Railway Magazine 151 (1251): p84. 
  47. ^ "Virgin rescue locomotives are F A B!". (Press release). Virgin Trains. 17 December 2004. Retrieved on 2008-01-28. 
  48. ^ "TMC class 37 product page". 
  49. ^ "British Railways Western Region diesel-hydraulic locomotives: D600 'Warship' index". 
  50. ^ "Whither Wessies?". 
  51. ^ "Western makes debut at Aberystwyth". Railways Illustrated: page 8. November 2007. 
  52. ^ "The Golden Jubilee of the Class 20s". The Railway Magazine: pages 14-20. July 2007. 
  53. ^ "A 'wizzo' in the west again". Railways Illustrated: page 11. March 2008. 
  54. ^ Times online
  55. ^ Supplement to April 1990 edition of Railway Magazine

See also

External links


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


Published - March 2009

This glossary is available under the terms
of the GNU Free Documentation

Find free glossaries at

Find free dictionaries at

Subscribe to free newsletter

Need more translation jobs from translation agencies? Click here!

Translation agencies are welcome to register here - Free!

Freelance translators are welcome to register here - Free!

Submit your glossary or dictionary for publishing at

Free Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter to receive news from us:



Use More Glossaries
Use Free Dictionaries
Use Free Translators
Submit Your Glossary
Read Translation Articles
Register Translation Agency
Submit Your Resume
Obtain Translation Jobs
Subscribe to Free Newsletter
Buy Database of Translators
Obtain Blacklisted Agencies
Vote in Polls for Translators
Read News for Translators
Advertise Here
Read our FAQ
Read Testimonials
Use Site Map


translation directory

christianity portal
translation jobs


Copyright © 2003-2024 by
Legal Disclaimer
Site Map