Glossary of terms used in these pages

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English-Spanish Spanish-English

Spanish, like English, is not a single homogeneous language. Different words can be used in different places to express the identical concept. The same word can have very different meanings in different countries. For instance, the word hacienda in Argentina (in the context of railways) means livestock; however, its usual meaning in Mexico is something like stately home. Technical terms may be specific to individual railways.

Where the word is specific, but not necessarily uniquely, to a country or railway there is an abbreviation indicating the source of the word.

English / Spanish

COUPLINGS
automatic coupling = el enganche automático (RFIRT) (knuckle implied)
buckeye or MCB coupler = el acoplador (tipo) puño
buffer = el paragolpe = el tope (Uru.)
chopper coupling = el acoplador (tipo) hacha
coupling = el acople
coupling hook = el gancho (between buffers on buffer beam)
knuckle coupling = el acoplador (tipo) puño = el ganche mandíbula = la mandíbula (Uru.)
link and pin coupling = el acoplador (tipo) anillo y perno = el enganche a cadena (Arg.)
rotating coupling = el acoplador giratorio (for tippler wagons)
screw coupling = el tornillo (Uru.) (between buffers on buffer beam) = el enganche a rosca (Arg.)
three link coupling = la cadena a eslabón

LINES & ROUTES
additional line = la vía auxiliadora (RFIRT) (a line which is not a running line) = la vía auxiliar (RFIRT)
block section = sección de bloqueo
construction = la construcción (this may be used to describe both the process of constructing and the thing which has been constructed)
construction works = las obras
crossover = la interconexión (invented for these pages)
crossing place = el apartadero (RFIRT) (On this railway where there are two running lines: the main line is bi- directional; the secondary running line may be bi-directional)
curve = la curva
descent = la bajada
distance (in kilometres) = el kilometraje
down line = la vía descendente, (defined as direction of decreasing mileage)
gradient = la pendiente
level crossing = el paso a nivel
main line = la vía primera (Arg + RFIRT) = la vía principal (Arg +RFIRT) (the line which joins the stations and passes through them; the running of the trains on it is governed by rules and signals)
network (of routes) = la red, eg. la Red Norte (Chile)
permanent way = la vía permanente
radius = el radio
railway = el ferrocarril = la vía férrea
running line = la vía de tráfico (RFIRT)
second (running) line = la vía segunda (RFIRT) (at stations and crossing places)
section = el tramo (Chile)
shunting yard = patio = playa de maniobras (Arg.)
siding = el desvío (an additional line used for shunting or the parking of vehicles, exceptionally it may be used for the crossing of trains; it may be of such a length that it would be considered a branch line - the airfield siding at Puerto Madryn was 4km long and there was one in the north of Argentina no less than 101 km long!)
single track = la vía sencilla
subsidiary line = la vía auxiliadora (RFIRT)
third (running) line (not siding) = la vía tercera (at stations and crossing places)
triangle, or wye = tríangulo
up line = la vía ascendente, (defined as direction of increasing mileage)
wye, or triangle = tríangulo

LOCOMOTIVE DEPOT
engine shed = el depósito = el galpón de máquinas = la casa de máquinas (Chile)
round house = la casa redonda = la remesa
shed = el galpón
turntable = la giratoria = la mesa giratoria = la placa giratoria = la plataforma giratoria = el puente giratorio = la tournamesa (Chile)
water crane = la punta de agua = la toma de agua = la grúa de agua
water stand = el agua (Cent. Am.) (feminine gender)
water tank = el agua (Cent. Am.) (feminine gender) = el tanque de agua
workshops = los talleres (Arg.) = la maestranza (Chile)

LOCOMOTIVES
assisting engine = la locomotora auxiliadora (RFIRT) (whether located between the train engine and the train or at the rear pushing) = la locomotora auxilio (RFIRT)
boiler pressure = la presión de caldera (200 psi = 14.1 kg/mm2)
brake, air = el freno Westinghouse (Arg.) = el freno al aire comprimido
brake shoe = la zapata de freno
brake, vacuum = el freno al vacío
bunker = el pañol (for coal or wood; usually in a ship) = el tanque de combustible (fuel oil) = el tender (sometimes, by extension from separate tender)
cab = la casilla
carrying wheel
= la rueda portador (not bogie wheel)
cattle guard = el miriñaque (Arg + Chile) (literally crinoline!)
chassis = la viga
coal = el carbon
coupled wheel = la rueda acoplada
cow catcher = el miriñaque (Arg + Chile)
cylinders = los cilindros
diesel fuel = el aceite diesel (Cent. Am.)
driving wheel = la rueda acoplada = la rueda propulsora
engine = la locomotora = la máquina
exploratory engine = la locomotora exploradora (RFIRT) a light engine sent out into an occupied section to look for a train, or a rake of wagons, whose whereabouts is unknown)
firebox = el fogón = la caja de fuego
footplate = el estribo
head light (strobe) = la baliza
headlamp = el reflector
horsepower = caballo vapor
light engine = la locomotora sola (may be more than one engine coupled together and may include one, or more, brake vans attached)
locomotive jack = el gato de locomotora (RFIRT) (probably a traversing screw jack of perhaps 15 tons capacity)
mainframe = el bastidor = la viga
pilot (USA) = el miriñaque (Arg + Chile) (literally crinoline!)
putting steam loco into reverse to brake the train = el contravapor
running plate = el estribo
safety valve = la válvula de securidad (invented for these pages)
sand box = el arenero = el cajón de arena
smoke box = la caja de humo / humos = el humero
snow plough = la reja quitanieves
steam release valve = el robinete
superheater = recalentador (literally 're-heater')
superheating = sobrecalefacción (Arg.)
tractive effort/force = fuerza de tracción
train engine = la locomotora titular (RFIRT) (located at the very front of the train, in front of any assisting engine)
traversing jack = el gato para mover al lado = el gato traslador (invented for these pages)
wheel arrangement = la esquema de ruedas = el rodado = el rodaje
whistle = el pito
works' number = el número de fábrica

MISCELLANEOUS
Enginemens' union (ASLEF equivalent) = la Fraternidad (Arg)
assets = los bienes (RFIRT)
in bulk (loose, not in containers) = a granel
colliery arch
= la viga castillo (RFIRT)
colony = la colonia (Arg., eg. Colonia Sarmiento; settlement in unoccupied territory established by, or with consent of, the government)
company = la empresa, la compañía
concession (eg. to operate a railway) = la concesión
concrete = el hormigón
dam = el dique
decree (of government) = el decreto (Arg.)
design = el plano
district, (suburb, neighbourhood (USA)) = el barrio
electric battery = la batería (RFIRT) = la pila (Arg)
engineering work = la obra de arte (e.g. bridge)
event = la novedad (RFIRT)
fare = el pasaje
first aid box = el botiquín
mine gallery or tunnel = la galería
gas producer = el hizagas
incident = la novedad (RFIRT)
livestock = el ganado (Arg.) = la hacienda (Arg.)
law = la ley
lorry = el camión
masonry = la mampostería
mineral = el mineral
Ministry of Public Works = Ministerio de Obras Publicas (Arg.)
occurrence = la novedad (RFIRT)
outcrop (of rock or ore) = el afloramiento
packaging = el embalaje
padlock = el canado
petrol = la bencina (Chile) = la nafta (Arg.)
plan (ie map) = el plano
road motor coach service = la línea automotora Pullman (FC Central del Chubut, Arg.)
mine shaft = el pique, or if inclined = la chimenea inclineda
stores = los materiales
tap = la canilla
third party = el tercero
ticket (for pasenger) = el boleto (Arg.)
ton/tonne (weight) = tonelada; long ton = tonelada inglesa, short ton = tonelada de los EEUU.mine tunnel or gallery = la galería
ventilation shaft or tunnel for mine = el chiflón
wool = la lana
works tram = la zorra (tramway)
wrought iron = el hierro forjado

OPERATION (OF TRAINS)
bad visibility = la mala visibilidad (RFIRT) (defined as visibility of less than 200 metres)
ballast train = el tren de trabajo
banked (train) = la doble tracción
breakdown train = el tren de auxilio
delay = el retraso
diagrammed service = el servicio diagramado (RFIRT) (that is, one operating to the timetable contained within the current working timetable)
double headed = la doble tracción
fly shunting = la maniobra volante (RFIRT) (that is, when a locomotive pulling a rake of wagons is uncoupled from them while in motion and passes through facing points in a different direction to that of the following wagons)
interchange (of passengers at a junction) = la combinación
mist = la neblina (defined as visibility of less than 200 metres)
rough shunt = la maniobra brusca
running-over = el arrollamiento (of livestock or person)
shunting = las maniobras
shunter = el cambista (arg.)
speed restriction = la precaución (Arg + RFIRT)
train control office = el Movimiento (more fully: la Oficina de Movimiento Seccional) = oficina de control de trenes
passenger train conveying vehicles for several different destinations or branch lines = el tren combinación
hurricane force winds = el viento huracanado (Arg., of great importance to train operation in Patagonia!)
walking pace = a paso de hombre

OPERATION (COMMERCIAL / STAFF)
bale (of wool) = el bulto
bill of lading
= la carta de porte
charge (for conveying freight) = el flete
expenses = los gastos
freightage = el flete
improvised service = el servicio programado (RFIRT) (that is, one operating to suit the exigencies of traffic through lack of a current working time table)
income = el producido
journey = el viaje
livestock = la hacienda (Arg)
locum = el reemplazante (RFIRT) (person undertaking those duties at the particular time)
on duty = de turno (RFIRT) = en servicio (RFIRT) (when working a shift system)
packet = la encomienda
parcel = la encomienda
ship or vessel = el buque
shipping line = la compañia naviera
shipping service = la vía marítima
shunter = el cambista
timetable = el horario (RFIRT) (that part of the working time table which specifies the class, direction, number and running of the trains)
tonne (or ton according to context) = la tonelada
way bill = la foja de ruta (RFIRT)
weighing machine = la báscula
working timetable = el itinerario de trenes (RFIRT) (a printed document which contains the timetable, together with information concerning the running and dealing with trains)

POINTS/SWITCHES
(point) blade = la aguja
catch point = la trampa
clearance post or point
= la estaca del cambio (RFIRT) (indicating the point beyond which vehicles on two converging lines will foul each other) = la estaca de libranza (RFIRT)
crossing nose, vee or frog = la encrucijada
double-slip crossing = el cambio inglés (Arg.)
facing points = el cambio de punta (RFIRT)
hand points = el cambio a mano (RFIRT)
point lock at in-section siding operated by train staff = la cerradura de gaveta
points with a facing point lock = las agujas de securidad
points without a facing point lock = las agujas simples
position indicator for points = el indicador de cambio
sprung points = el cambio a resorte (this does not necessarily involve the use of springs, but more usually by a hand lever weighted to self park in one position only, unlike the usual arrangement where it will self park in either position)
trailing points = el cambio de talón (RFIRT)

RAILWAY OR ROUTE TITLES
EFEA = Empresa Ferrocarriles del Estado Argentina = Argentine State Railways Company, ie the official name for the nationalised railway network after 1948. Later the less official term 'Ferrocarriles Argentinos' was popularly used.
FCAF
= Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino = lit. Southern Fueguinian Railway, ie. the modern 50cm tourist line at Ushuaia.
FCCC = Ferrocarril Central del Chubut. NB In Spanish this should really be abbreviated 'FCCCh' as 'Ch' counts as a separate single letter in Spanish. However the railway management always used the English abbreviation FCCC. Nota bene : La gerencia del 'FCCCH' usaba la abreviatura FCCC en sus escritos y para identificación sobre los vagones y locomotoras. La voz galesa o inglesa tiene la cuarta letra del abecedario como la 'd' no la 'ch' como castellano en aquel tiempo.
FCE = Ferrocarril del Estado, Argentina, y Chile también. = State Railways, in both Argentina and Chile.
FCGR = Ferrocarril General Roca, ie. the title given in 1948 to the division of the EFEA incorporating the former FC Sud and the former FCE lines to Bariloche, Esquel and Coronel Sosa.
FCP = Ferrocarril Patagónico = Patagonian Railway(s), ie the two isolated broad gauge lines and the ex FCCC from 1948 until their takeover by the FC General Roca a few years later.
FCPV = Ferrocarril de Península Valdés = Peninsula Valdes railway, ie. the salt line to Pto. Piramides.
FCS = Ferrocarril Sud = Southern Railway, or more formally in English the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway Company.
RCR-CS = Ramal Comodoro Rivadavia a Colonia Sarmiento = term used here for the Comodoro Rivadavia - Sarmiento broad gauge line.
RFIEP = Ramal Ferro Industrial Eva Perón = Eva Peron Industrial Railway Line.The original name for the Rio Turbio coal line until President Peron's fall from office in the mid 1950s. El nombre original del RFIRT (abajo).
RFIRT = Ramal Ferro Industrial Río Turbio = Rio Turbio Industrial Railway Line.
RIJ-E = Ramal de Ingeniero Jacobacci a Esquel
RPD-CLH = Ramal Puerto Deseado a Colonia Las Heras
RSA-SCB = Ramal Viedma a San Antonio Oeste y San Carlos de Bariloche

ROLLING STOCK (PARTS OF VEHICLES)
archbar truck or diamond frame bogie = el boguie de forma diamante
axlebox = la caja de lubricación = la caja para punta de eje = la caja de ejes
berth (bed in sleeping coach) = la litera = la cama (Arg.)
birdcage roof = el techo jaulón (invented for the purposes of these pages)
bogie/truck = el boguie (it is also often spelt 'bogie')
braked axle = el eje frenado
brake hose = la manga de freno
brake rigging = la timonería de freno (excludes brake shoes)
buffer beam = el montaje acoplador
buffer front face = el platillo
clerestory roof = el techo con claraboya
diamond frame bogie or archbar truck = el boguie de forma diamante
end balcony of coach? = la platina
fall plate? = la platina
monitor roof = el techo catedral (invented for the purposes of these pages)
roller bearing = el rodamiente
sleeping compartment = el compartimiento or el camarote
spare part = el repuesto
tail lamp of train = la señal de cola
truck/bogie = el boguie (it is also often spelt 'bogie')
washing compartment = el lavatorio
WC compartment = la letrina
wheel = la rueda
wheel flange? = la ceja = la pestaña
wheel tread = la huella

ROLLING STOCK (VEHICLES)
baggage car = el furgón de equipajes
box car (USA) or covered van = vagón cubierto
box van
= el furgón
brake van = el furgón = el furgón (RFIRT - sole meaning) = el furgón de cola (FC Patagónico) = el furgón de freno
container = el contenedor
final vehicle = el colero (RFIRT) (of block train; painted distinctively, red and white vertical bands and carrying the appropriate end-of-train signals)
flat wagon = el carro plano (Chile) = vagón plataforma (Arg.)
flat wagon for containers = la chata contenedor (modern containers)
flat wagon with no or very low sides = la plataforma
guard's compartment = el furgón (in a passenger coach)
high-sided open wagon = vagón cajón
hopper wagon = la tolva
inspection saloon = el coche reservado (locomotive hauled)
livestock wagon = el vagón-jaula = el vagón hacienda (Arg.)
loading gauge = el gálibo (RFIRT) (dimensions thereof)
low-sided open wagon = vagón medio-cajón
luggage compartment = compartimiento para equipajes = also 'el furgón' in Arg. when no special furgón vehicle is in the train
mine tub = el vagon (Mex.) (no accent)
motor trolley = la zorra (RFIRT) (usually; which can readily be removed from the track by its own crew)
officers' saloon = el coche reservado (locomotive hauled)
parcels van = furgón de equipajes; but in Arg. vagón de equipajes = higher quality parcels van with vacuum brake, passenger bogies/trucks and steam heating pipe.
railcar = el bus carril (Chile) = el ferrobus (Bol.) = el coche motor (Arg.)
railcar, small = el auto de vía
rake (of wagons) = el corte
road-rail vehicle = el satelite (RFIRT)
rolling stock = el material rodante
self propelled insection vehicle = el auto de vía (like a Wyckham or Fairmont trolley)
sleeping car = el coche dormitorio
tipper wagon = el vagón volcador
track bicycle = el velocípedo
van = el cubierto (RFIRT) = el furgón
wagon = el carro (Mex) = el vagón (Arg)

SIGNALS
Note that terms marked * all relate to traditional British signalling practice.
advanced (starting) signal
* = la señal de avanzada
back light of signal = la contraluz
block section
* = la sección block
burner, of oil or acetylene lamp = el mechero
calling-on signal
* = la señal de llamada
cane
= la caña (for attaching wires of portable telephone to overhead wires of line side telephone)
colour light signal = la señal luminosa
detonator = el pertardo
distant signal* = la señal de distancia
dwarf signal* = la señal enana
engine horn (sound) = la bocina
engine whistle (sound) = el silbato
fixed signal* = la señal fija
fixed distant in off position = el disco chico (RFIRT) (= literally 'small disc'; small disc placed below a disco de aproximación signal to indicate that the train need not stop at the entrance points to a stations as required by the disco de aproximación signal)
fixed distant in on position = el disco de aproximación (RFIRT) (= literally 'approach disc'; fixed signal indicating that the train must stop at the entrance points to the station unless otherwise given a signal at that location)
fixed stop signal = el cuadro absoluto (RFIRT) (= literally 'absolute square'; located at entrance to station (home = grande) or at exit from siding (starting = chico)
flag (for signalling) = la banderita
fog signal = el pertardo
fog signalman = el petardero
ground frame = el marco de palancas
hand bell = la campanilla
hand lamp = el farol = el farol de mano
home signal* = la señal de entrada
instruction board = el tablero
(locomotive) bell = la campana
(man's) arm = el brazo
signal lever collar (to remind signalman not to clear signal as it is protecting a train = el cuello de hierro
el mechero = burner, of oil lamp
movable signal = la señal movible
(mouth) whistle = el pito
pole = el palo (numbered from 1 each kilometre and used to make mileage location more precise)
repeater signal* = el repetidor
semaphore signal = el semáforo
shunt to siding signal* = la señal de entrada a desvío
shunting signal* = la señal de maniobra
(signal) arm* = el brazo
signal box/cabin/tower = el cabín (Arg) = la cabina (Arg) = la caseta = la casilla (de señales) (alternative nomenclatures; the particular form used will depend on the particular pre-nationalization railway on which it is / was located)
signal lamp = el farol de señal
signal lever = la palanca
signalman = el señalero
signal post = el mástil
staff, ie. for single line working = el bastón
starting signal* =la señal de salida
tail lamp of train = la señal de cola
Line clear = vía libre, on RFIRT elevated to 'Vía Libre' system of permissive block working
wrong road working signal* = la señal que autoriza a correr por vía contraria

STAFF/PERSONNEL
blacksmith = el herrero
brakeman
= el guardafreno
conductor = el práctico (literally the ship's pilot; ie. the person who knows the road and advises the engine driver who doesn't)
conductor = el conductor (RFIRT) (the person who is in charge of the running of a train, he is generally the same person as the engine driver)
conductor (USA) = el conductor (Cent. Am.)
crew = la dotación
crossing keeper = el guardabarrera
employee = el agente
engine driver = el maquinista
engineer (USA) = el maquinista
engineer (professional) = el ingeniero
foreman = el capataz
guard = el guardatrén (RFIRT) (who controls the braking of an train not fitted with continuous brakes) = el guarda
handsignalman = el cambista (RFIRT)
labourer = el peón
lengthman = el peón (de vía)
locomotive fireman = el fogonero = el foguista
PW ganger = el capataz de cuadrilla
PW squad = la cuadrilla de vía
PW sub-ganger = el segundo capataz de cuadrilla
railwayman = el ferroviario
shunter = el agujero? = el cambista (Arg.) = el garrotero (Mex.)? = el palanquero (Chile)
squad = la dotación
station assistant = el auxiliar (de estación) (RFIRT) (performs duties something like a station master, but rotates amongst the station staff three monthly where there are more than one appointed to a particular station)
station master = el jefe de estación
steamraiser in a loco shed = el vaporista (Arg.)
stoker = el fogonero = el foguista
superintendent = el superintendente, eg. Superintendente Seccional Trafico
telegraph linesman = el guardahilo
wagon examiner = el revisador de vehículos

STATIONS
end loading ramp = la rampa de punta
halt = el apeadero = la parada
notice board = el tablero
pen for livestock = el corral
shed = el galpon
side loading ramp = la rampa de costado
sign board = el tablero
station in advance = la estación de adelante (RFIRT)
station in the rear = la estación de atrás (RFIRT)
(station) name board = el nomenclado
(station) platform = la plataforma (more old fashioned term), = el anden (more modern term)
ticket office = la boletería (Arg)
unstaffed station = el apeadero
unstaffed station dealing with passengers = la parada
unstaffed station = el embarcadero (station with restricted facilities, but more than a halt)
wagon tippler = el equipo vuelca vagones (RFIRT)
waiting room = la sala de espera

TRACK (see also POINTS/SWITCHES)
60 cm gauge = la vía decauville
75 cm gauge
= la trocha económica (Patagonia) = la vía angosta (Cent. Am.)
broad gauge = la trocha ancha
buffer stop
= la marmita
cant = el peralte
catch point = el detentor
checkrail, eg. at points/switch or through/over bridge = el contracarril
chock = la calzada (RFIRT)
clamp (for points) = la grampa
dual gauge = la bitrocha = la vía mixta (Cent. Am.)
fishplate = la eclisa = la junta para riel = la planchuela
gauge = la trocha
gradient = la pendiente
level crossing barrier = la barrera
flange lubricator = el lubricador de pestañas (NB pestaña usual means eyelash!)
metre gauge = la trocha metrica = la trocha angosta (Arg.)
narrow gauge = la trocha angosta
position indicator for points = el indicador de cambio
rail joint = la junta de rieles
scotch block = la calzada (RFIRT)
standard gauge = la vía ancha (Cent. Am.)
superelevation = el peralte
track jack = el gato de vía (RFIRT) (probably a ratchet jack of perhaps 5 tons capacity)
wheel stop = la calzada (RFIRT)

 

Spanish - English glossary