Customer Glossary A-C


AAR: Association of American Railroads

The central coordinating and research agency of the American railway industry. This agency deals with matters of common concern in the whole field of railroading from operations to public relations.

AAR Car Type

Standard coding scheme for classifying cars, composed of leading alpha character to describe general type of car (e.g., box car) and 3 numeric digits, each describing a separate characteristic of the car.

AAR Pool Number

A seven digit numeric code assigned to pools reported to the Association of American Railroads.

AAR Pool Type

An alpha character code designated by the AAR, in defining the type of pool (e.g., "G" is a pool containing contaminated cars.)


A proceeding wherein a carrier seeks authority to abandon all or parts of its route.

Abandonment of Freight

Freight which is refused because of damage in transmit.

Absorption of Charges

A carrier's payment of switching or other special charges out of its share of the earnings, to another carrier, without increase the rate or change to the shipper.

Absolute Control Order

A high priority control order entered by Equipment Distribution to direct the movement of empty cars. Application of cars to ACOs is automatic with the report of various events.


Receipt by the consignee of a shipment.

Accessorial Service

A service rendered by a carrier in addition to a transportation service, such as stopping in transit to complete loading or to partially unload, heating, storage.

Act of God

An irresistible superhuman cause, such as no reasonable human foresight, prudence, diligence and care can anticipate and/or prevent.

Actual Value Rates

Rates published to correspond to the actual value of the property offered for transportation.

Ad Valorem

According to value.

Advance Charge

the amount of freight or other charge on a shipment advanced by one carrier to another, or to the shipper, to be collected from the consignee.

Advance Consist

A train document which is either automatically generated to a downline reporting station when a train's departure is reported or is requested via train document requests. This document includes cars sorted by train block, reported to arrive a location on a particular train. Information concerning the car such as load/empty status, commodity, consignee, and destination data is also included on the document.

Advance Notice

Notification to the customer of intended action or an approaching event.


A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another.


A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another.

Agreed Valuation

The value of a shipment agreed upon to give the shipper a specific rating and the carrier a definite liability.

Agreed Weight

The weight prescribed by agreement between carrier and shipper for goods shipped in certain packages or in a certain manner in order to circumvent weighing.


(a) A deduction from weight or value of shipment.
(b) An amount given in repayment

Alternative Routing Clause

A provision that carriers may, if necessary, use routes other than usual or designated routes, the rates shown in tariff to apply.

Alternative Rates

Provision in a tariff that whichever of two or more rates produces the lowest charge may be used.

Amended Items

When, through error or changed conditions, it is necessary to change the provisions of an item in a transportation publications, the change is made by issuing an amended item in full, in its revised form.


A change, correction or alteration.

Anticipated Consist (Inbound)

A list requested prior to the receipt of a Detail Advance Consist that is customized to show all the cars scheduled to arrive at a given location.

Any Quantity Rate

A rate that applies regardless of the amount shipped.

Application of Rates

The points from, to, or between, which the rates and routes shown in the tariff apply.

Application of Tariff

The territory, or points within a territory, from, to, or between which the provisions and rates shown in the tariff apply.

Area of Responsibility

The geographical territory that is the responsibility of a particular section of the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) or Operations Control Center (OCC).

Arrival Notice

A notice, furnished to consignee, of the arrival of freight.


One to whom a right or property is transferred.


One by who a right or property is transferred.

Astray Freight

Freight which bears marks indicating owner and destination, but for which no billing is found.

Audit Number

A freight station accounting code (FSAC); a carrier assigned unique number for every station that originates billing. Accounting systems use audit numbers and billing roads to identify stations.

Authority of Law

When property being transported is seized by lawfully authorized authorities and taken from carrier, and the carrier notified the consignor of such seizure.


System whereby a National Customer Service Center (NCSC) Representatives at origin can create a paper "hard copy" of a waybill at the same time the waybill is prepared and sent to the computer via CRT. An Operation Control Center (OCC) Representative at a receipt location can also transmit waybill information to TCS via Autobill.


A rail car used to transport automobiles. It usually contains three ramps and metal side panels to protect the automobiles.

Average Agreement (Demurrage)

An agreement between shipper or receiver of goods and a transportation line by which the shipper or receiver is charged for cars held over a specified free time and given credit for cars released in less than the specified time. This is usually averaged at the end of each month.


Back Haul

To handle a shipment in the direction of the light flow of traffic.

Bad Order

A freight car loaded improperly, mechanically defective, or has safety violations.

Basing Point

A point the rates to and from which are used in constructing through rates between other points.

Belt Line

A short line operating within and/or around a city.

Beneficial Owner

The actual owner of the lading who is using a consolidator.


A freight car that has two decks, an upper and a lower, and is designed for transporting automobiles.

Billed Weight

The weight shown in a freight bill.

Bill of Lading

A shipping form which is both a receipt for property and a contract for delivery of goods by a carrier. The principal bills of lading are: Straight A non-negotiable document. Surrender of the original is not required upon delivery of the freight unless necessary to identify consignee. Order A negotiable document. Surrender of the original property endorsed is required by transportation lines upon delivery of the freight, in accordance with its terms. Clean Either a Straight or Order Bill of Lading in which the transportation company acknowledges receipt of the property without noting any exceptions as to shortage or damage to the property received. Exchange A bill of lading which is given in exchange for another. Export One given to cover a shipment consigned to some foreign country. Government A special form of bill of lading which is used in making shipments for the account of the United States Government.

Billing Carrier (Bill Road)

The carrier performing the first line haul service of the movement. This carrier is responsible for preparing the waybill document.

Block (Operating)

Unit in which a group of cars are moved towards the same destination.

Block (Revenue)

Groups of points considered together for rate-making purposes in connection with the express business.

Blocking or Bracing

Wood or metal supports to keep shipments in place in or on railcars and trailers.

Bond of Indemnity

An agreement made with a carrier relieving it from liability for any action on its part for which it would otherwise be liable. Frequently used in lieu of original Bill of Lading or original paid Freight Bill when filing claim with carrier for loss of, or damage to, freight.

Bonded Warehouse

A warehouse owned by persons approved by the Treasury Department, an under bond or guarantee for the strict observance of the revenue laws; utilized for storing goods until duties are paid or goods are otherwise properly released.

Box Car

A car with sides enclosed and having a roof; doors being placed in the sides or sides and ends.

Brake Beam

The rigging under a freight car that connects the brake shoe with the air cylinder.

Brake Shoe

All cars must have a mechanical system to stop and hold the car. the brake shoe is the mechanical device activated by air pressure or by hand, which pushes against the wheel and creates friction, producing a stopping action.

Branch Line

A rail line serving one or more stations beyond the point of junction with the main line or another branch line, and to or from which stations train service, or its equivalent, is performed.

Break Bulk

To remove all or a portion of the Contents of a car for transportation to points beyond.

Break Bulk Point

The point at which a portion or all of the Contents of a car are unloaded and distributed.

Bridge Move

A railroad movement involving at least three roadhaul carriers at which the UP is neither the first or the last carrier.


An individual who acts as a agent for a customer, who is attempting to route a car to a customer in Mexico or Canada. Equipment destined to a locale in Mexico are billed only to the border. At that time a broker, in cooperation with a broker in Mexico, prepares the proper paperwork which allow the car to cross the border and proceed to its destination.

Brokerage License

Authority granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission to persons to engage in the business of arranging for transportation of persons or property in interstate commerce.

Bulk Freight

Freight not in packages or containers.


(a) A permanent load securement device attached crosswise of a car that is used to prevent lengthwise movement of lading and or to restrain or contain the lading into sections.

(b) A partition separating one part of a ship between decks from another part.

(c) A structure to resist the pressure of earth or water.


The accumulation and tender of cars for loading or unloading in excess of orders or contrary to customary schedules.



A freight-train car usually attached to the rear of a train for the use of trainmen in giving and receiving signals, handling car records and performing other duties.

Cancellation of Rate or Tariff

Removing the application of a rate or rates or a tariff by appropriate supplemental cancellation.


Amount of freight which can be carried in a railcar or trailer expressed in terms of weight and measurement.

Car Cycle

The time a car is on the Union Pacific System without changing its load/empty status or having a new waybill issued for the car.

Car Lining

Material placed on the walls or floor of a car for protection of goods.

Car Mile

(a) A unit used in comparing freight earnings.

(b) the amount earned from, or the cost of hauling a car of freight one mile.

Car Pooling

The pooling of certain equipment that is owned by two or more railroads under a central control or agency for the benefit of car owners and users.

Car Scheduling

A system of assigning a "trip plan" that are based primarily on waybill data. Cars are scheduled to the first available train that may carry the specific type of traffic into which they are categorized.

Car Service Rules

Rules established by agreement between railroads in connection with the interchange of cars, dealing primarily with the selection of cars for loading and the return of foreign cars to the home road, loaded or empty.


The lading of a vessel.


(a) The quantity of freight required for the application of a carload rate.

(b) A car loaded to its weight or space-carrying capacity.

Carload Minimum Weight

The least weight which a shipment is charged to obtain the carload rate.

Carload Rate

The rate applicable to a shipment which equals, exceeds or is charged for the carload minimum weight.


An individual, partnership or corporation engaged in the business of transporting goods or persons.

Carrier's Lien

The right of a carrier to retain property it has transported, as security for the freight charges.


Pick up or delivery of freight within commercial zone of a city by local carrier acting as agent for shipper or over-the-rail carrier.

Certificate of Origin

A certified document as to the origin of the goods which is sometimes required in connection with foreign traffic.

Certificate of Weight

An authoritative statement of the weight of a shipment.


A rubber-tired trailer under-frame upon which containers are mounted for street or highway movement.


The five-character code assigned to UP system stations in which the prefix represents a segment of track along which the station lies and the number represents a milepost along that segment. For example, "MX001" is the circular-7 for St Louis.

Claim Trace

A request for advice concerning the status of a claim.


A demand, supported by evidence, to show that the claimant has sustained a loss through the negligence of a carrier. The principal kinds are:

(a) Damage Claim due to physical injury to shipment or because shipment was not delivered within a reasonable time.

(b) Loss Claim due to failure to deliver goods.

(c) Overcharge Claims when more than the legally published charges were collected.

(d) Reparation Claims for a refund of charges which, while in accordance with legally published tariffs, are unreasonable or unjust and the carrier has since published the lower reasonable rate.

Class and Commodity Tariff

One which contains both class and commodity rates.

Class Definitions

Rail carriers are grouped into three classes based on their annual operating revenue. To account for inflation, the STB calculates deflator factors to adjust revenue to 2019 levels. View the most recent calculation here

Class I Railroads

Class I Railroads = Annual operating revenue above $900 million after applying 2020’s adjusted railroad revenue deflator factors issued by the STB.

Class II Railroads

Class II Railroads = Annual operating revenue from $40.4 million to $900 million after applying 2020’s adjusted railroad revenue deflator factors issued by the STB.

Class III Railroads

Class III Railroads = Annual operating revenue less than $40.4 million after applying 2020’s adjusted railroad revenue deflator factors issued by the STB.

Class Tariff

A publication containing only class rates.

Classification Yard

The place where cars are segregated by the carriers according to their destinations or deliveries and made ready for proper train movement or delivery.

Classification (freight)

A publication containing a list of articles and the classes to which they are assigned for the purpose of applying class rates, together with governing rules and regulations.

Classification Job

A switch engine moving cars from track to track within a classification yard to organize them in groups for their outbound move.

Clean Bill of Lading

A bill of Lading receipted by carrier for merchandise in good condition (no damage, loss etc., apparent), and which does not bear such notation as "Shipper's Load and Count.

Cleaning in Transit

The stopping of articles in transit between points of origin and destination for cleaning, as dried beans, peanuts,etc.

Clear Record

A record showing that a shipment was handled without loss or damage.


The amount of space above and beside transportation lines when they pass through tunnels, over bridges, etc.

Clearance Tables

Publications showing the clearance on rail lines, together with other information such as the height of cars that will pass specified points.

Clearing House

A mutual agreement between railroads for the use of each other's empty cars of specified mechanical designation without regard to some car service rules.


A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength; to prevent warping; to hold in position; a type of bracing.


Car Location Message. That part of the fleet system which deals with providing the fleet operator with information on car movement data for all cars in the fleet (see fleet).This information comes in the form of a periodic (usually daily, sometimes hourly) message or report which contains the latest movement data on all cars from the fleets that are on our lines. This message follows an industry wide standard format that enables shippers who use railroads across the US and Canada to use this information for updating their own computer systems.

Closed Van

Unit with metal sides and top completely enclosing the freight being transported.

Collector of Customs

A representative of the United States Treasury Department acting for the government in connection with foreign traffic.

Combination Rate

A rate made by combining two or more local rates.

Combination Through Rate

The rate that applies from origin to destination over a through route that does not enjoy a joint through rate and is made by combining two or more separate factors.

Commercial Zone

Geographical area of commercial influence of a specified point.


Any article of commerce. Goods shipped.

Commodity Pool

An assignment of cars established to handle a particular commodity or commodities, having no specific assignment location.

Commodity Rate

A rate applied to a given article between specified points.

Commodity Tariff

A publication which contains only commodity rates.

Common Carrier

A transportation line engaged in the business of handling persons or goods for compensation and for all persons impartially.

Common Point

A point reached by two or more transportation lines.

Compartment Tank Car

A tank car with compartments or separate tanks in which different kinds or grades of liquids may be transported.

Compartmentizer Car

A boxcar equipped with movable bulkheads which can be used to divide the car into separate compartments.

Competitive Point

A point at which two or more transportation lines compete for the movement of traffic.

Competitive Rate

Rate published to meet the competition of another carrier.

Complement Code

A numeric code used to define characteristics, handling instruction, or any comments that may be specified.

Connecting Carrier

A carrier which has a direct physical connection with another or forming a connecting link between two or more carriers.


The individual or organization to which freight is shipped.


The individual or organization shipping freight to a consignee.

Constructive Placement

When, due to some inability on the part of the consignor or consignee, a car cannot be placed for loading or unloading at a point previously designated by the consignor or consignee it is placed elsewhere. It is then considered as being under Constructive Placement and subject to demurrage, rules and charges, the same as if it were actually placed at the designated point.


A receptacle that resembles a truck trailer without wheel (chassis) that is lifted on to flat cars.


Container (without chassis) on Flat Cars.

Continuous Carriage

Movement from origin to destination without delays other than the delays incident to transportation.


Illegal or prohibited traffic.

Contract Carrier

Carriers who transport passengers or property under special and individual contracts or agreements.

Cubical Capacity

The carrying capacity of a railcar or trailer according to measurement in cubic feet.

Cubic foot

1728 cubic inches.

Custom Broker

One who collects and presents necessary documentation to government customs officers on behalf of a shipper/receiver of goods on international shipments.

Custom House

The government building where tolls or duties placed on imports or exports are collected and where vessels are entered or cleared.

Custom Tariff

Schedule charges assessed by the government on imports or exports.

Customs Duties

Amount payable to the government on goods imported or exported.


Two or more cars coupled.