View Full Version : The ultimate term for a train car?

November 10th, 2013, 04:06 AM
Hi I'm confused. I'd like to use as proper word as possible (on my site, in configs of my objects) for a train car. I use carriage but as I can see there are dozens of terms and I don't know which is the most general one in English (carriage, waggon, wagon, car)?. In Polish language we have just 'wagon'. In German they have 'Wagen', of course there are adjectives like 'passenger' and 'freight' for specific objects but there should be (I guess) just one word. The word. I realize the differences between USA, UK, Aus, Can. So let's say for me as a euro guy I'd like to know the British one. Can you help me with it?

November 10th, 2013, 04:49 AM
You are not alone in this confusion. A recent local news report of a major rail derailment talked of "carriages thrown across the tracks". I was expecting to see a video of a major disaster involving a passenger train but no, the newsreader had used the term "carriages" to refer to freight "wagons".

To me a "carriage" carries human passengers. A wagon carries freight, livestock, bulk liquids, minerals and the like.

November 10th, 2013, 05:12 AM
In the UK, a passenger vehicle is a carriage or coach - so a train will be described as having 12 carriages or coaches. In professional terms, for example, an empty train going to the depot is ECS (Empty Coaching Stock). More recently the American term "cars" has appeared, especially in relation to multiple unit trains.

Wagons (sometimes spelled waggons) is definitely for freight only.

The generic term for ALL passenger and freight is "rolling stock" but this is a collective term - you don't say "there are 12 rolling stocks in the sidings" but you might say "my siding is full of rolling stock" which could be either passenger or freight.

All the best


November 10th, 2013, 05:26 AM
Ha, ha! I thought I would be not so easy ;-) I understand the term rolling stock as a not countable word ;-) But rolling stock means also locomotives, doesn't it? This is like we say 'Polish soldier won in a battle' not meaning one superman but soldiers as an army ;-) Your words opened my mind though. To sum things up I gues I will call freight train objects as 'wagons' and passenger train objects as 'carriages or coaches'. Thank you!

November 10th, 2013, 08:31 AM
You've got it exactly and, yes, rolling stock should include locomotives although some writers prefer to write "locos and rolling stock" where they mean locos plus coaches or wagons. English is a strange language sometimes!

Good luck


November 10th, 2013, 09:09 AM
On the basis of what I read in American magazines and websites, in U.S. the term "car" seems to be used for both passenger and freight equipment ("Passenger car" or "freight car"), even though sometimes passenger cars are called "coaches".

November 10th, 2013, 11:33 AM
Car is the generic term in the US. Hence, boxcar, tank car, flat car, ect. A coach is a sub classification of passenger car, which includes coaches, baggage cars, mail cars, combines, sleeper cars, and the like.

November 10th, 2013, 11:41 AM
A coach is a sub classification of passenger car, which includes coaches, baggage cars, mail cars, combines, sleeper cars, and the like.

Confusingly in the UK coach is the generic term, used for all vehicles shaped like those for carrying passengers, whilst luggage vans, mail coaches etc. are grouped as NPCCS or Non-Passenger Carrying Coach Stock (vehicles in this category are often referred to as vans)

November 10th, 2013, 02:00 PM
In the US we use several different terms, usually ending with car (like jadebullet mentioned), but we typically use rolling stock or rail car. Not sure if that helps you much or not.