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Why is "Ry" the abbreviation for "Railroad?"

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Why is "Ry" the abbreviation for "Railroad?"
Posted by Lord Graystoke on Monday, December 5, 2022 6:39 PM

Sorry, newbie question here - I searched all over the internet and couldn't find the answer to this question - why is Ry used for Railroad?

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Posted by Steven Otte on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 9:06 AM

It's not. RR is the abbreviation for railroad. Ry. is short for Railway.

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 9:16 AM

It gets fun when some are Railroad's (RR) while other companies use Railway (RY) as the end.

Even more fun is when you know the history of certain lines, and they changed from Railway to Railroad, depending on the era. 

Ricky W.

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Posted by azrail on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 10:46 AM

It used to be that "railway" meant that there were ties to Britain..such as financing or ownership. In Canada they are all called railways, thanks to British ties, and in the case of CNR-Ownership by the British Crown (a crown corporation)

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Posted by NorthBrit on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 12:07 PM

Railway staff found that the use of Ry or Rly   is simply easy to write  instead of Railway.   Just as Co.  is easier than Company.

 

X,Y & Z Rly Co  is easier than   X,Y & Z Railway Company.

 

Simple.

 

David

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 12:34 PM

Welcome to the Model Railroader magazine discussion forums. We are very glad that you have found us. Your first few posts will be delayed by the Kalmbach Media moderators, but that ends soon enough, usually after just a few posts. Please stick around through the delay and become a permanent part of the discussions.

Lord Graystoke
Sorry, newbie question here - I searched all over the internet and couldn't find the answer to this question - why is Ry used for Railroad?

I cannot think of an example off of the top of my head, but there were some railroads that started out as XYZ Railway, but later changed their identity to XYZ Railroad.

The abbreviation "RY" would continue to be seen for a while after they had become known as a Railroad "RR".

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 12:38 PM

I've seen Rwy for Railway numerous times.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 12:44 PM

We have a Railway Avenue close by.  It is flat and completely straight.  We have no Railroads or Railways in town, and we never had.  Did someone dream of one and actually go so far as to build a preliminary right of way in hopes of attracting one?

We do have a restaurant that was originally railroad-themed and has a locomotive and two dining cars.  The cars and engine must have been trucked in.  The restaurant is now a breakfast place.

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 3:38 PM

The Norfolk & Western, for one, went bankrupt not so long after it was incorporated as the Norfolk & Western Railroad.  When it was stood up again as a company, they changed it to 'railway'.

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 9:44 PM

Along those lines I wonder why the U.S. abbreviates Number as No. ?

Mose European abbreviations I'v seen use Nr. 

There isn't even a letter O in number. (I'm told it is from Latin numero) go figure.

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Posted by PC101 on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 10:18 PM

Hello Lord Graystoke, welcome to the MR forum. The last time I saw that name was in a comic book of Tarzan.  

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 10:28 AM

If you visit rrpicturesarchives.net and search by railroad, you'll notice that the official reporting marks typically end in RR or RY, but not always, especially if its been around for a long time or is a big railroad. (BNSF is simply BNSF).

Other reporting marks have an X if the equipment is owned by a leasing company.  

I believe the marks are the offical abbreviations for a Railroad or a Railway in the companies title, save for the few times a company may have changed its name for legal reasons. 

Oftentimes you can double check that by comparing the offical reporting marks to the name of the railroad (or railway).

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 10:57 AM

gmpullman
Along those lines I wonder why the U.S. abbreviates Number as No. ?

It's indirectly Latin, English got it from the French "Numero". BTW the plural is "Nos." Although English is in the Germanic family of languages, the majority of our words come from Latin via the French (1066, Norman Conquest, and all that.)

BTW "railroad" vs. "railway" really had nothing to do with whether the company was funded by the British or not - many American rail lines in the 19th century (and many US companies in general) were built with British funding but were still railroads, while many American funded companies were railways. I grew up across the street from the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern Railway, which was built and funded in the early 20th century by Col. Marion Savage and his business interests right here in Minnesota.

Bottom line is, there's not really any rhyme or reason for one or the other, except that you'll often find an "AB&C Railroad" that eventually files for bankruptcy and reorganizes as the "AB&C Railway"...or vice versa.

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 11:22 AM

Doughless
If you visit rrpicturesarchives.net and search by railroad, you'll notice that the official reporting marks typically end in RR or RY, but not always, especially if its been around for a long time or is a big railroad. (BNSF is simply BNSF).

It's not as much age as it is how they registered the marks and how long the road name is.

Railroad or railway or company or lines generally has more to do with reorganizations and bankruptcies than anything else.  Most railroads have been multiple "things" over the course of their history as they were merged, went through bankruptcy and reorganization or other events.

For example the Reading Railroad in the "modern era" wasn't the Reading Railroad, it was the Reading Company.  If you look at a Reading passenger car it has that name in the letter boards.  That came about as  the result of an anti-trust lawsuit.

Modern reporting marks are limited to 4 characters, older, pre-computer reporting marks could be much longer.  NH (modern) vs. NYNH&HR (older).  The majority of reporting marks don't include "RR" or "RWY" or "RY".

Other reporting marks have an X if the equipment is owned by a leasing company. 

It's actually equipment owned by someone other than a railroad.While you are correct it could be a leasing company (GATX), it could be an industry (DUPX), or it could be a government agency (DODX).  Also a leasing company may own and have a long term lease cars to a railroad and the railroad puts their initials on the car.  They are "leased" cars owned by a leasing company but operated by the rairlroad as their own.

I believe the marks are the offical abbreviations for a Railroad or a Railway in the companies title, save for the few times a company may have changed its name for legal reasons.

Reporting marks are registered with that Master Car Builders Assoc (MCB), the American Railroad Association (ARA) or the American Association of Railroads (AAR) depending on era and they mark the owner of the car for billing and repair purposes.  If you look at an Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER), at the top of each railroad or car owner's section it will say something like "the cars of this company are marked ..." and give a list of the reporting marks owned/used by that company.  Railroad cars can have company names painted on the side, but the railroads really don't care about that, they need to know who the owner of the car is, and that's what the reporting marks tell them.  They need to know the owner because the owner is the one who gets the bills for repairs to the cars and is the one who gets the car hire or mileage payments.  Each railroad's ORER listing also has an address of where to send car hire and repair bills.

 

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 11:34 AM

Ya, the reporting marks are the official "name" of the car. A shortline could buy a used Santa Fe boxcar with a huge Santa Fe herald and slogan etc. on it, and legally all they had to do is paint over the "ATSF" reporting marks and add their own. As long as the data (weight, length etc.) are correct and up to date, the other stuff is just decoration.

Plus, I think it's often misunderstood that when a railroad buys or merges with another railroad, the new company inherits the reporting marks of the earlier railroads. BNSF owns the rights to the reporting marks from all the previous railroads that went into it, like BN, GN, NP, ATSF, etc. And it's not like a copyright where they lose the ownership if they don't use the reporting marks, like some people have claimed. As Dave says, reporting marks are registered with the appropriate agency or agencies.

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Posted by Autonerd on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 2:53 PM

MisterBeasley
We have a Railway Avenue close by.

 

Too bad it's not Railway Road, because then it'd be Ry. Rd.!

 

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 7:25 PM

There is a interesting line near me that is now a Railroad, but in the early 1900's was a Railway. They were not in any way affiliated with each other originally.

It's interesting because when they started, the Railroad of the same name did not own or operate on any of the former Railway lines trackage, but they now do thanks to a NS cast-off line. 

And what is more interesting for railfans, is the very Alco heavy roster. 

The Western New York & Pennsylvania Railway was purchased/merged into the PRR in the early 1900's, and the WNY&P Ry line through my hometown was removed by Conrail in the 1970's. (PRR Chataqua Branch.)

The Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad started in the very early 2000's on ex-Erie RR trackage, from Jamestown NY to Meadville Pa, then expanded east from Jamestown to Hornell NY, on ex-Erie RR trackage, and in the mid-2000's (2008 I think?) acquired the ex-PRR (Originally WNY&P Ry) Buffalo line (Olean NY south to Driftwood PA) from NS. 

Ricky W.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Thursday, December 8, 2022 12:01 PM

Autonerd

 MisterBeasley

We have a Railway Avenue close by.

 

 

Too bad it's not Railway Road, because then it'd be Ry. Rd.!

 Aaron

 

 
 
Railway Avenue  -   Ry. Ave.   off course.  Whistling
 
 
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Posted by Track fiddler on Thursday, December 8, 2022 12:40 PM

There is another abbreviation of RR besides Railroad.  The US Post Office uses it.  It is Rural Route (RR).

The abbreviation also goes in conjunction with RRTF.  No Sir, This abbreviation is not Railroad Track FiddlerLaugh  It is Rural Road Transport ForumWink

https://www.onlineabbreviations.com/abbreviation/1177709

 

Speaking of Roads.

Why does one Drive on the Parkway, and Park in the Driveway? Huh?

 

 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, December 8, 2022 12:56 PM

Track fiddler
There is another abbreviation of RR besides Railroad.  The US Post Office uses it.  It is Rural Road. (RR).

Rural Route, not Rural Road. "RR2 Box 12" means "Rural Route 2, Box 12". At least that's what it meant when I was an RCA (Rural Carrier Alternate) long ago. 

BTW Mr. Beasley - if you have a Railway Avenue near you, there probably was some type of railroad near the road at one time. It may have been temporary, like for some construction project, or existed long ago. It might have even been a pre-steam era one pulled by horses. There were 'railways' like that for 100s of years before the first steam engine came along.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Thursday, December 8, 2022 1:06 PM

You are exactly right StixEmbarrassed  Did know that, but confused it with the RRTF one.  Made the proper correction on that.

 

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Posted by babefluff on Thursday, December 8, 2022 7:53 PM

Autonerd

 

 
MisterBeasley
We have a Railway Avenue close by.

 

 

Too bad it's not Railway Road, because then it'd be Ry. Rd.!

 

Aaron

 

I grew up on Railway Road in Grand Falls, NL.  The track for the Grand Falls Central Railway was right behind our house.

Scott

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, December 9, 2022 9:33 AM

Besides Railroad / Railway Avenues, I've been in towns that had a Roundhouse Street or Road. I suspect in the midwest and west there are many streets and roads named after the railroad they were built next to, like Rock Island Avenue, Milwaukee St., Santa Fe Road, etc. 

In Minneapolis, the street built parallel to the original Milwaukee Road St.Paul - Minneapolis line (where the light rail line is now from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America) is Hiawatha Avenue...although it was named long before the Milwaukee Road train was introduced in 1934. Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" poem, set in this area, was very popular when Minneapolis was first founded right after the Civil War, and several place names are borrowed from the poem.

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Posted by Jetrock on Thursday, January 5, 2023 9:21 PM

MisterBeasley

We have a Railway Avenue close by.  It is flat and completely straight.  We have no Railroads or Railways in town, and we never had.  Did someone dream of one and actually go so far as to build a preliminary right of way in hopes of attracting one?

We do have a restaurant that was originally railroad-themed and has a locomotive and two dining cars.  The cars and engine must have been trucked in.  The restaurant is now a breakfast place.

Looks like there was a railroad (or perhaps several railroads) that ran through Bedford, until 1977:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedford_Depot

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 6, 2023 10:54 AM

The abbreviation "No." is most likely from the French 'nombre'.  That's certainly where the serial number convention on watches derives from.

I've always suspected that a reason for "financially-stimulated" changing from railroad to railway or vice versa was that only one letter would need to be changed on all the printing plates for paperwork a given company would use, including the expensively-engraved stock certificates.

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Posted by selector on Friday, January 6, 2023 4:09 PM

Number, in both French and Spanish is also 'numero'.*  I wouldn't be surpised that the shortened version is 'No' in both languages.

"L'edifice No Un," translates as, "Building #1).  Numero uno is very likely to be understood by almost anybody.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Saturday, January 7, 2023 10:22 AM

selector

The Norfolk & Western, for one, went bankrupt not so long after it was incorporated as the Norfolk & Western Railroad.  When it was stood up again as a company, they changed it to 'railway'.

 

Thanks for flagging the N&W.  Never knew that and I model them!

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Posted by RMNRWY on Saturday, January 7, 2023 11:14 AM

I'm a little late to this topic, but my freelanced layout and username end with...........Smile

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, January 7, 2023 11:45 AM

There was a very long, great, conversation on one of the FB prototype pages on the use of railroad vs railway. A couple of English professors soon joined the conversation and sorted things out pretty quickly. It seems that there are rules to using the word railway vs railroad such as "you work for the railway (company) but you work on the railroad" if you are actually working on the roadbed and/or associated infrastructure. There were plenty of other examples given as well on the use of RR terminology.

It all comes down to the local vernacular and let's face it, how many people that name streets or companies or speak/write these days, think about the proper use of a language when it comes right down to it?

Brent

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, January 7, 2023 11:50 AM

BATMAN
It seems that there are rules to using the word railway vs railroad such as "you work for the railway (company) but you work on the railroad" if you are actually working on the roadbed and/or associated infrastructure.

If that was true, then the company names would all be "RAILWAY", but that is not the case.

It seems the main difference is one is more British, and the other is more North American. Clearly not the case of people just not knowing the proper use of language.

The terms are synonomous.

BATMAN
There was a very long, great, conversation on one of the FB prototype pages on the use of railroad vs railway. A couple of English professors soon joined the conversation and sorted things out pretty quickly.

I would never believe anything on facebook as a source of factual or logical information. Not even if 100 users pretend to be english professors.

Laugh

-Kevin

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