Promoting a cost effective, reliable, and competitive transportation system
GLOSSARY

Alliance for Rail Competition (ARC)
a rail customer advocacy group. 
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
a standard setting body that publishes specifications and guidelines used in highway design and construction in the United States.  AASHTO’s primary goal is to encourage the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.  Voting membership of AASHTO consists of the Department of Transportation in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA)
trade association representing the nation’s short line and regional railroads.  Located in Washington, DC.
Alliance for Rail Competition (ARC)
a rail customer advocacy group. 
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
a standard setting body that publishes specifications and guidelines used in highway design and construction in the United States.  AASHTO’s primary goal is to encourage the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.  Voting membership of AASHTO consists of the Department of Transportation in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA)
trade association representing the nation’s short line and regional railroads.  Located in Washington, DC.
Association of American Railroads (AAR)
trade association comprised of the major freight railroads in the United States, Canada, and Mexico; Amtrak; and a number of short line holding companies.  Located in Washington, DC. 
Ballast
forms the track bed upon which railroad ties are laid.  Usually consisting of gravel, ballast is used to create a smooth surface and to keep the track in place while trains pass over.
Baltic Exchange
the leading global marketplace for shipbrokers, ship owners, and charterers.  The exchange provides daily freight market prices and maritime shipping cost indices and a market for freight futures.  Located in London.
Barge
a flat-bottomed boat used primarily for transporting heavy goods on inland waterways.  Most barges are not self-propelled and require tugboats or towboats. 
Bill of Lading
a document issued by a freight carrier acknowledging that a specified shipment has been received on board as cargo for transport to a particular delivery point.  Unlike a waybill, a bill of lading is a legal contract between the carrier and shipper. 
Boxcar
an enclosed railroad car primarily used to carry general freight.
Breakbulk
the assimilation of many smaller shipments into one large shipment at a centralized location to achieve economies of scale.
Breakbulk Vessel
a cargo ship that transports products of various sizes.  Loading and unloading of breakbulk vessels is more time and labor intensive. 
Bulk
uniform cargo shipped in a loose condition.  Examples of bulk cargo are petroleum products, grain and oilseeds, and ore.
Bunker Fuel
technically any type of fuel oil used aboard ships. It derives its name from the containers on ships and in ports in which the fuel is stored. During the era of steam-generated power, bunkers were used to store coal. They are currently used to store fuel oil.
Cabotage
the transport of products or passengers between two points within the same country.
Cabover (Cab-Over-Engine)
a truck or tractor in which the cab is positioned over the engine on the chassis.
Capesize Vessel
cargo ships too large to traverse either the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal.  In order to navigate between oceans, capesize vessels must travel around the Cape of Good Hope (southern tip of Africa) or Cape Horn (southern tip of South America).  Only the largest deep water terminals have the capacity to receive capesize vessels. 
Carrier
general term commonly used for a business- such as a railroad or barge company - that provides transportation services for various products.
Chassis Weight (Tare Weight)
weight of an empty truck.
Class I Railroad
a railroad with an operating revenue exceeding $398.7 million.  Currently, seven railroads are considered as Class I: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad.  Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway are also considered Class I due to their significant trackage lines in the United States.
Class II Railroad
often called a “regional railroad.”  Class II railroads have operating revenues between $31.9 million and $398.7 million.
Class III Railroad
often called a “short line railroad.”  Class III railroads have operating revenues of $31.9 million or less. 
Common Carrier
an organization that transports passengers or freight and offers the service to the general public.
Conductor
the railroad employee responsible for the safety and management of the train, including the freight.
Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE)
a rail customer advocacy group located in Washington, DC.
Containerization
a system of intermodal freight transportation using weatherproof containers that can be loaded and sealed onto ships, railroad cars, trucks, and planes.  The five common standard lengths of containers are: 20 ft, 40 ft, 45 ft, 48 ft, and 53 ft.
Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF)
an international commerce term in a sales contract in international trading of ocean transportation.  Prices quoted CIF communicates that the selling price includes the cost of the goods, the freight or transportation costs, and the cost of marine insurance.
Covered Hopper
a railroad freight car with a roof and unloading chutes at the bottom.  Covered hoppers primarily carry goods that are susceptible to damage if exposed by the weather, including grains and oilseeds.
Demurrage
the compensation paid for the delay of a ship or freight car being loaded or unloaded.
Double-stack container
containers capable of being stacked on top of one another on a flat car.
Draft
vertical distance between a ship's waterline and the lowest point of its keel. Depth of water to which a ship sinks according to its load. Most ships have parallel horizontal lines drawn on both sides of the bow (front) and stern (back) to indicate each foot of draft.
Engineer
the railroad employee responsible for the movement of the train.
Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)
an independent federal agency responsible for the regulation of ocean borne transportation in the foreign commerce of the United States.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
the government agency, under the U.S. Department of Transportation, charged with promoting and enforcing rail safety regulations; administering railroad assistance programs; conducting research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy; providing for the rehabilitation of Northeast rail passenger service; and consolidating government support of rail transportation activities.
FEU
“forty foot equivalent unit.”  A standard container size that can be loaded and sealed onto ships, railroad cars, trucks, and planes.  The dimensions of a FEU are 40 ft (length) × 8 ft (width) × 9 ft (height).  The maximum gross mass for dry cargo FEU is 67,200 lb: 58,380 lb (net load) + 8,820 lb (empty container weight). An FEU can accommodate 973 bushels of soybeans.
Flatcar
an open rail car without sides or a roof.
FOB
"Free On Board" or "Freight On Board."  FOB refers to which party (buyer or seller) pays for which particular shipping and loading costs and at which moment the responsibility for the goods is transferred.
Freight Transportation Services Index
Measurement of the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then combined into one index.  The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.  Compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


Government Accountability Office (GAO)
the non-partisan investigative arm of the United States Congress charged with the auditing and evaluation of government programs and activities.  Formerly called the “General Accounting Office.”
Gondola
a rail car with sides but without a roof.
Grade Crossing
the crossing of a railroad line by a roadway.
Gross Ton-Mile
the movement of the combined weight of rail cars and freight a distance of one mile.  Often utilized to determine overall railroad operating efficiency.
Handymax Vessel
a bulk carrier ship typically 492-656 ft. in length.
Haulage Rights
rights acquired by one railroad for its trains to be operated by another railroad over that railroad’s tracks.
Hours-Of-Service
safety regulation established by the U.S. Department of Transportation governing the hours of service of the drivers of commercial vehicles in interstate trucking operations.
Intermodal
freight moving across at least two different modes of transportation, often by truck, rail, barge, or ship.the former government regulatory body responsible for regulating the railroad industry.  The agency was abolished in 1995, and its remaining functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920)
statute sponsored by U.S. Senator Wesley Jones (Washington) that restricts the carriage of goods or passengers between U.S. ports to U.S. built and flagged ships.  In addition, at least 75 percent of crewmembers must be U.S. citizens.
Lading
a load, freight, or cargo constituting an overall shipment.
Longshoreman
an individual employed at a port to load and unload cargo ships.
Main Line
primary rail line between railroad terminals.
Metric Ton (M/T)
a measurement of mass equal to 2,205 lbs or 1,000 kilograms.
National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA)
trade association representing grain, feed, and grain-related commercial businesses.  Located in Washington, DC.
National Industrial Transportation League
trade association of companies concerned with freight transportation.  Located in Arlington, Virginia.
National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA)
trade association representing oilseed crushers of canola, flaxseed, safflower, soybeans, and sunflower.  Located in Washington, DC.
Net Ton-Mile
the movement of freight a distance of one mile.
Open-Top Hopper
a railroad freight car without a roof with sides and unloading chutes at the bottom.
Panamax Vessel
the maximum-sized category of ocean vessel that can transit through the Panama Canal: 965 ft long × 106 ft width (beam) × 190 ft high.  The draft cannot exceed 39.5 ft. This size is primarily determined by the dimensions of the lock chambers: 1,050 ft long × 110 ft wide × 85 ft deep.
Positive Train Control (PTC)
A system of monitoring and controlling train movements in order to promote safety.  Mandated by Congress in 2008, PTC requires a railroad to develop a system that allows remote control and automatic braking of a train in case of a major safety concern.  
Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program (RRIF)
program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration, which allocates direct loans and loan guarantees to railroads, state and local governments, and government-sponsored authorities for the purpose of acquiring, improving, or rehabilitating intermodal or rail equipment or facilities; refinancing outstanding debt; or establishing new intermodal or railroad facilities.
Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
an independent agency of the federal government with the primary responsibility of administering retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness benefit programs for the nation’s railroad workers and their families.
Right-of-way
an easement or strip of land granted to a railroad to build and operate a line.
Shipper
general term commonly used for businesses or individuals who purchase transportation services for various products.
Short Ton (S/T)
a measurement of mass equal to 2,000 lbs.
Shuttle Train
a dedicated set of approximately 75-100 freight cars for movement as an entire unit from one origin to one destination.  The shipper and the railroad enter into a contract for the regular transport of the particular product over a period of time, often one year.  Within the contract incentives are often provided by the railroad to encourage rapid loading and unloading of the rail cars by the shipper.
Siding
a section of rail track separate from a main line or spur.  Siding is most commonly used to temporarily hold and store railroad equipment between uses.
Staggers Act
deregulated the railroad industry to allow rail companies greater independence in determining its operations and rate structure.  Named after Congressman Harley Staggers (West Virginia).  Signed into law in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.
Suezmax Vessel
the maximum-sized category of ocean vessel that can transit through the Suez Canal.  Since the Suez Canal does not have locks, the main factor limiting size is draft - currently 53 ft.
Surface Transportation Board (STB)
the regulatory agency created by the United States Congress to resolve railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers.  The STB is administratively affiliated with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Switching
movement of rail cars between two trains or locations.
Tank Car
a rail car designed to carry petroleum products, liquid chemicals, and gasses.  Loading and unloading of tank cars occurs through the cylindrical opening at the top.
Tariff
a publication of rates, rules, and regulations of common carriers, including railroads.
Terminal
a railroad facility used for the receiving, classifying, assembling, and dispatching of trains.
TEU
“twenty foot equivalent unit.”  A standard container size that can be loaded and sealed onto ships, railroad cars, trucks, and planes.  The dimensions of a TEU are 20 ft (length) × 8 ft (width) × 9 ft (height).  The maximum gross mass for dry cargo TEU is 52,910 lb: 47,770 lb (net load) + 5,140 lb (empty cntainer weight). A TEU can accommodate 796 bushels of soybeans.
Trackage Rights
rights acquired by one railroad to operate its trains over another railroad’s tracks.
Unit Train
a freight train in which all the rail cars often - 100 or more in number - are shipped from the same origin to the same destination.  Unit trains often carry only one commodity and are comprised of the same type of rail cars.
Waybill
a document issued by a freight carrier providing details and instructions relating to the shipment of goods.  A waybill will usually include the names of the consignor and consignee, the point of origin of the shipment, the destination, the route, method of shipment, and amount charged.  Although similar to a bill of lading, a waybill is not a document of title.
Yard
a system of rail tracks branching from a single track.  Yards are utilized for switching, assembling, and storing rail cars.