British Rail Wiki


Baby Deltic

D5900 class Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives, constructed by the English Electric company. They used a single Napier Deltic engine/generator combination, as opposed to the two-engines 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.
Baby Warship
North British D6300 class locomotives, which used one diesel engine coupled to a hydraulic transmission, making them effectively half a D600 Warship or D800 Warship, each of which had two engines[1]
British Rail Class 33/1 locomotives, specifically those fitted for push-pull working with 4TC stock[2]
Blood and Custard
The Crimson and Cream livery used on BR's coaches during the 1950s and 60s[3]
British Rail Class 57 diesel-electric locomotives—made by transplanting a General Motors reconditioned power unit and alternator into a Class 47 bodyshell[4]
British Rail Class 58 diesel-electric locomotive—from the shape: the body is narrow with wide cabs. 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.[5]
Brake van
A heavy vehicle with powerful brakes which was attached to the rear of goods trains in the days when most wagons were not fitted with a continuous braking system. Its function was to supplement the locomotive's braking power in slowing and stopping the train and to keep the couplings uniformly tight by selective light braking to avoid snatching and breakages. It also conveyed the train guard, hence its alternative name of "guards van". Partly analogous to caboose and its synonyms.
British Rail Class 47 diesel-electric locomotive, also known as the "Brush Type 4". Followers of this type are often known as "Brush bashers".
Bubble car
A British Rail Class 121 or 122 single railcar. This name was later made official by Chiltern Railways, the final company to have operated the 121 in mainline service.[6][7]


A British Railways telegraphic codeword to note the cancellation of a passenger train service[8]
The Class 68 diesel electric locomotive built for Direct Rail Services, based at Carlisle Kingmoor yard, totalling 34 in total.
The Class 86 electric locomotive, the most popular electric locomotive built in the era of Electrification on the West Coast mainline, totally 100 built, the class have also spent time operating on the GEML. Sadly, there are only three in use now, with Railtours operators, LSL (86101), WCRC (86401) and Les Ross (86259). Freightliner still own 16 of the class, but these have been withdrawn from service following acqusition of thirteen Class 90s from GA.
Passengers (particularly commuters, who often complain that they are treated "like cattle")[9]
British Rail Class 20 diesel-electric locomotive[10]
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.[11]
Coffee pot
Applied to the shape of Ex-SR Q1 class steam locomotives[12]
British Rail Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive (fitted with Crompton Parkinson electrical equipment).[13]


British Rail Class 55 diesel-electric locomotives (the "Deltics"), which use twin Napier Deltic power units
Waggon und Maschinenbau railbuses E79960-64, introduced 1958[14]
Driving trailer
A passenger coach which has a full set of train controls at one end, allowing for the use of push-pull train operation[15]
Driving Van Trailer (DVT)
A class of control car, Mark 3 or Mark 4 based.
Dusty Bin
British Rail Class 321, from the game show 3-2-1, featuring the animated character "Dusty Bin".[16]
The livery of British Rail Civil Engineers department rolling stock, due to the resemblance of Nederlandse Spoorwegen's corporate livery[17]
British Rail Class 92 so called because of the sound their traction blowers make as they go past


Egg Timer
British Rail Class 58 diesel-electric locomotive[5]


Ferret and Dartboard
The second British Railways emblem introduced in 1956, featuring a lion rampant holding a wheel.
SAM 0381.JPG
From a distance the wheel has a passing resemblance to a dartboard.[18]
Flat wagon
A type of rolling stock, which can be a flat-bottomed car with no sides on which freight (including intermodal containers) can be stacked. A bulkhead is a flatcar with walls on the front and rear. A center-beam bulkhead is a bulkhead flatcar with an additional wall dividing one side of the flatcar from the other, but still without any sides.[19]


A British Rail Class 31 diesel-electric locomotive—from "gargoyle" (after the somewhat ungainly headcode boxes above the driving cabs)[20]
A rail enthusiast[21][22]
Grid or grid iron
A British Rail Class 56 diesel-electric locomotive, from the large grilles[23]
A British Rail Class 08 or Class 09 shunter[24]
A British Rail Class 37 diesel-electric locomotive (from the engine sound)[25]
A nickname for the British Rail Class 31, on account of its engine noise[26]


A British Rail Class 50 diesel-electric locomotive—from the sound of the engine cooling fans being similar to a vacuum cleaner, prior to the refurbishment which removed this characteristic[27]
A British Rail Class 35 locomotive using a V16 Maybach diesel engine coupled to a Mekydro hydraulic transmission[28]
Happy Train
A British Rail Class 365 because their revised front end resembles a grinning face.[29]


A British Rail HS4000


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.[30]


Merry-go-round (MGR) train
Coal train running between a coal mine and a power station, loading and unloading without stopping or shunting
Locomotives constructed by Metropolitan-Vickers, especially the British Rail Class 28 (D5700 class) Co-Bo[31]
Mickey Mouse
An Ex-LMS Ivatt 2MT class 2-6-0 steam locomotive[32]


A non-enthusiast[33]
Nodding Donkeys
The British Rail Pacer (Classes 142, 143 and 144) Unit because of their bouncing up and down (nodding), and the donkey-like sound such units make on tight corners due to their lack of bogies


A British Rail Class 44, Class 45, or Class 46 diesel-electric locomotive—so named because the earliest of these loco types, the ten Class 44s, were named after mountains[34]
The Class 390 InterCity Express Train (IET) operating on the West Coast mainline, introduced by Virgin in 2004 and subsequently operated by Avanti West Coast, totalling 57 units in service.
Plastic pig
A British Rail Class 442, "Wessex Electrics" (electric multiple units)—so-named for being mostly made out of plastics in construction


Quiet Cat
Class 88 electric locomotives— known as a last mile bi-modal but have been proven to operate in diesel mode - similar in appearance to the Class 68 ''cat'' - 10 in service with Direct Rail services operating mainly on Intermodal workings on the West Coast mainline based out of Carlisle Kingmoor.


British Rail Class 25 diesel-electric locomotives—and related classes—reputedly originating from a term used on the LMR of British Rail in the 1960s where 25s were as common as "rats";[35] the Scottish-based Class 26 and 27 were sometimes known as "MacRats".[36]
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.[37]


The Class 66 locomotive. The most commonly seen railway locomotive on the UK network, Built in America with GM and shipped over to the UK, initially by EWS, who bought 250 examples to replace a number of different traction classes, namely 31, 37, 47, 56, 58, 60, 86 and 92s. Such was their success, other operators followed suit, Colas Rail, DRS, Freightliner and GBRf all have Sheds of their own now.
  1. A small locomotive used for assembling trains and moving railroad cars around[38]
  2. A person involved in such work[38]
Silver bullet
China Clay slurry wagons[39]
Class 142 DMUs[40]
The Class 90 locomotive. Built modelled on the Class 87, initially was to become 87/2 - 50 examples were built at Crewe locomotive works as a mixed traffic locomotive. Went into traffic early 1990s with InterCity and RfD. Fast forwards thirty years and the Class is still going strong, 90s, 001 and 002 are with LSL, 90s 003-016 and 041-049 are with Freightliner and 90s 017-040 are with DB Cargo UK.
Slim Jim
Narrow-bodied version of the British Rail Class 33 diesel-electric locomotive (identified as sub-class 33/2)—built for the confined loading gauge on the Hastings line.[41]).
Another nickname for the British Rail Class 25, referring to their habit of spluttering when their engines cut out and failed, which they often did.[42]


A 3R diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU), named due to having two vehicles 8 ft 2½ in wide and one vehicle 9 ft 3 in wide[43]
Tank engine
A locomotive that carries its own fuel and water instead of hauling a tender
Teddy Bear
A British Rail Class 14 diesel-hydraulic locomotive for shunting and trip working.[44] Coined by Swindon Works' foreman George Cole who quipped "We've built the Great Bear, now we're going to build a Teddy Bear!".[45]
The Ex-SR A1 Class 0-6-0 steam locomotive, on account of its distinctive "bark" when running[46]
Class 52 diesel-hydraulic locomotives (the "Westerns") given the number range beginning with D1000[47]
Southern DEMU (BR Classes 201–207)—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.[48]
A locomotive kept on standby at a strategic location, ready to rescue a failed train—from Thunderbirds[49]


When exhaust comes out of a loco in big sizes

The livery used by Network SouthEast. So called due to the red, white and blue colours resembling the colours of striped toothpaste.[50]
Top and tail
A train with locomotives at both ends, for ease of changing direction
A British Rail Class 37 diesel-electric locomotive, possibly from the engine sound, also because they could be found hauling almost anything as a mixed-traffic design[51]
A British Rail Class 60 diesel-electric locomotive, as named because of their tremendous pulling power, size and sluggish nature.[52]


A Ex-Southern Railway U class 2-6-0 steam locomotive[53]


The Class 87 electric locomotive, some 36 units built for the West Coast mainline express passenger services from 1976 - only one example left in service in the UK, with railtours operator LSL, other examples are to be found in Bulgaria.
A type of rolling stock with a flat bottom enclosed on all sides and top, which is loaded and unloaded from sliding doors on each side[54][55]


A D600 or D800 class diesel-hydraulic locomotives, most of which were named after Royal Navy vessels[56]
A British Rail Class 442 electric multiple unit—from the "Wessex Electric" brand name used at launch[57]
A British Rail Class 52 diesel-hydraulic type 4 locomotive, 74 of which ran on BR between 1961 and 1977. All were named in a series beginning "Western...". Seven of the class have been preserved.[58]
A British Rail Class 40 diesel-electric locomotive, from the turbocharger sound; this nickname is also occasionally applied to British Rail Class 20 locomotives.[59]
A British Rail Class 52 diesel-hydraulic type 4 locomotive[60]


  2. Blackburn, Ian. "Waterloo-Weymouth push-pull trains". Railway Modeller. No. March 2012. Peco Publications. pp. 226–31. ISSN [[1]].
  5. 5.0 5.1 Class 58 Loco Group
  6. Milner, Chris (July 2005). "SWT 'bubble' named". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 151 no. 1251. p. 77.
  8. British Railway Telegraphic Codewordsfrom booklet BR30064 (accessed 2009-02-12)
  10. "'At least 20 20s' for Barrow Hill diesel jubilee". The Railway Magazine. July 2007. p. 9.
  11. Llangollen Diesels
  14. Wilcock, David (4 August 2010). "The Branch Line Service Where Passengers Had to Get Out and Push!". Heritage Railway. Mortons Media Ltd (139): 76–77.
  15. Mallaband, P.; Bowles, L. J. (1982). Coaching Stock of British Railways 1978. RCTS Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. p. 91. ISBN 0-901115-44-4.
  16. Ellis, Iain (2006). Ellis' British Railway Engineering Encyclopaedia. ISBN 978-1-84728-643-7.
  17. "Devon Knows How They Make Them 37s So Greeny!". Railways Illustrated: 29. December 2007.
  18. Dow, Andrew (2006). Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations(138.2 – Coats of arms and logos). JHU Press. ISBN 0-8018-8292-3. Retrieved 3 April2010.
  19. "Railroading Glossary: F". Kalmbach Publishing. Archived from the originalon 30 August 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  20. "Hornby 'Goyles' in OO (Class 31)". Modern Railway Modelling3: 26–27. 2005.
  21. de Boinod, Adam Jacot (2010) [first published as The Meaning of Tingo in 2005]. I Never Knew There Was a Word For It. Penguin Books.
  22. Ayto, John; Simpson, John (2010) [first published 1997]. Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang. Oxford University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0199232055.
  23. Nicholson, Peter (July 2005). "'Grid' owner adds to his collection". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 151 no. 1251. p. 84.
  24. "Hornby 'Gronk' (Class 08/09)". Modern Railway Modelling4: 26–27. 2005.
  25. "A Real 'Growler' on the South Devon". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 151 no. 1251. July 2005. p. 10.
  26. Morrison, Brian (ed.). Modern Railways Pictorial 1986. Ian Allan. p. 115. ISBN 0-7110-1510-4.
  27. Nicholson, Peter (July 2007). "Swindon's 'Hoover' goes to school". The Railway Magazine. p. 86
  28. Reed, Brian (1974). Diesel-Hydraulic Locomotives of the Western Region. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-6769-2.
  29. Reed, Brian (2007). Traction Recognition. unknown: Ian Allen. ISBN 978-0-7110-3277-4.
  30. Chilton, Phil (November 2007). "The University of Shackerstone, locomotive division!". Railways Illustrated: 17.
  32. Hopkins, Simon (November 2007). "Bridgnorth's stalwart 'Mickey Mouse' is focus of charter". Steam Railway343: 24.
  33. Template:Cite journal
  34. "Peak to be sold". Railways Illustrated: 36. November 2007.
  35. Kemp, Steve (December 2007). "'Rat' resurrected on the 'main line'". Railways Illustrated: 12.
  37. Chris, Shaw (1991). The AC Electrics (Rail Portfolios no. 13). Ian Allan. p. 7 (top caption). ISBN 0-7110-1938-X.
  38. 38.0 38.1
  39. "News Pictorial". Railways Illustrated: 43. March 2008.
  40. "Cornish Capers". Railways Illustrated: 24. March 2008.
  41. Morrison, Brian (ed.). Modern Railways Pictorial 1986. Ian Allan. p. 115. ISBN 0-7110-1510-4.
  42. Modern Railways Pictorial 1986, page 110.
  43. Glover, John (2001). Southern Electric. Hersham: Ian Allan. p. 93. ISBN 0-7110-2807-9.
  44. Staines, David (December 2007). "High-speed one: a 'Teddy Bear's picnic!". Railways Illustrated: 22–25.
  45. Flowers, Andy (December 2006). Pigott, Nick, ed. "'Teddy Bears' - the locos BR put to bed early". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 152 no. 1268. London: IPC Media. p. 41.
  46. Casserley, H.C. (1961). Steam Locomotives of British Railways (1978 ed.). Hamlyn Books. p. 52. ISBN 0-600-02210-2.
  47. Wilson, Matt (November 2007). "This is the way to celebrate your 50th. birthday!". Railways Illustrated: 27.
  48. Nicholson, Peter (July 2005). "'Thumper' Trailer Finds a Home". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 151 no. 1251. p. 84.
  49. "Virgin rescue locomotives are F A B!". Virgin Trains. 17 December 2004. Archived from the original on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  53. Brodrick, Nick. "'U-Boat' Tender Lands at MHR". Steam Railway. Bauer Media (382, November 12 – December 9, 2010): 25.
  55. Welsh, Joe (2006) [first published 1999 by Andover Junction Publications]. The American Railroad: Working for the Nation. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Company. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7603-1631-3.
  58. "Western makes debut at Aberystwyth". Railways Illustrated: 8. November 2007.
  59. "The Golden Jubilee of the Class 20s". The Railway Magazine. July 2007. pp. 14–20.
  60. "A 'wizzo' in the west again". Railways Illustrated: 11. March 2008.