Train designations

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Is there an obvious way of identifying what alphabetical designation a train has? For example, how would you be able to identify a Z-train on a BNSF train? I would like to include that information in the description of my train photo's.

Thanks in advance for your replies!

someone posted it some time ago here but a Z would be a hot shot/time sensitive stack train
W work train

M general freight

G loaded grain

C coal

X empty grain or an extra train

K shuttle crew

J jet aircraft ( boeing)

but thats off the top of my head so to speak

and a F is like the UP running on joint track with the BNSF dispatching
D-light power
E-Empty coal
F-other railroad on BNSf tracks
H-high prority manifest
J-dimesional train
K-helper/transfer (depends on location)
O-officer train
Q-quality (stack/trailers)
Y-yard job
X-empty grain
Z-high priorty stack/trailers



Spelling DOES count.

A - Amtrak/commuter/passenger
B - Baretables (empty intermodal equipment)
C - Loaded coal
D -Light power
E - Empty coal
F - Foreign (another railroad's train on BNSF's tracks)
G - Loaded grain
H - High priority manifest (mixed train)
I - Deadhead (only used in the computer system to identify employees being moved from one terminal to another without actually working)
J - Dimensional/high-wide train
K - Helper locomotives/transfer (depends on location)
L - Local
M - Merchandise (mixed train)
N - Dogcatch (crew called to take charge of a train whose previous crew has died on hours)
O - Officer car special
P - Premium intermodal
Q - Quality intermodal (stack/trailers)
R - Roadswitcher
S - Stack train
T - Transfer
U - Unit train (except for coal and grain)
V - Vehicle train (autoracks)
W - Work train
Y - Yard job
X - Empty grain
Z - UPS/High priority stack/trailers

The different types of intermodal trains are hard to differentiate, except that Z trains will always have UPS trailers and domestic containers.

UP uses a similar train-naming system, but the letters for each type of train are not the same as BNSF's in many cases. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.