The school year is winding down, so let’s get in one more quiz before summer vacation arrives! Nothing too complicated here, just your ABC’s. Let’s see how well you recognize your favorite railroads by their reporting marks.
Reporting marks are a subtle but essential part of railroad operations.
Reporting marks are the unique set of initials assigned to every company that owns a railroad car. Containers and trailers which ride the rails get them too. Along with the road number, these marks identify the car and provide the railroads’ operating departments a way to route and track it correctly.
Usually the reporting marks are related to the railroad or company name or initials. In some cases the marks seem strange, particularly where the initials are based off of the official roadname and not necessarily the one with which we’re most familiar, like Cotton Belt’s “SSW” for example.
When cars are sold, often the reporting marks are changed without completely repainting the car.
Here is a list of 26 historic and contemporary reporting marks. In addition to well-known railroads, there are some smaller companies, private car owners, intermodal shippers and leasers included to make it a little more challenging. How many do you know?
Some roads, like the Pennsylvania and Southern, spelled out their entire name on cars into the 1960s. Automated car tracking systems and computers would make such a practice impractical and reporting marks are now limited to 4 letters.
How did you do? Check out the answer key to check your work and learn a little more. If you want some more chances to test your knowledge, look for the next issue of the LRRC’s Inside Track – coming to members later this month!