German-English dictionary of railway or technical terms

Includes railway modelling words and terms

Notes:
  • The letter ? is a German double s, as in Stra?e, which can also be written Strasse
  • There is an alternative way to write any of the German 'umlauted' letters if you don't have access to umlauts (say on a keyboard), and you may find words written both ways in different places: a = ae, o = oe, u = ue
Related information:
On-line dictionaries at travlang's Translating Dictionaries, A list of [American] Railroad Related Terms
Although the initial work on this dictionary was done by John Oxlade, Michael Schildbach (EMail: [email protected]) has provided a lot of additional information.

The German-English dictionary of railway terms is in two sections:

The main dictionary:The appendices:
Select German words beginning with the letter:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Groups of terms related to:
Bahnanlagen, Points (am. Switches), Rail or Track, Signalling, Locomotive wheel/axle layout


0-9....

2'C1'h4v
An example of a scheme for indicating in a minimum number of letters and numbers the type of locomotive.
See explanation in the appendices.

A....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Abfahrbereit
About to depart
am. Ready to leave

Ablaufberg, 'Eselsrucken'
Hump (in a hump/gravity yard)

Abt
A form of rack system patented in 1882 by Roman Abt, consisting of teeth cut into flat metal bars, and fitted such that the teeth of one bar are aligned with the gaps in the other.
Most lines using the Abt system used 2 bars, but the Chilean Transandine Railway used 3.

Abteilwagen
Compartment coach

Abziehbild
Decal

Achsfolge
Wheel arrangement

Achslager
Axle box or bearing
am. Journal box

Aschenkasten
Ashpan

Aufgleisgerat
Rerailer; aufgleisen to rerail

Aufgleisen
To rerail

Ausbesserungswerk (AW)
Repair workshops (literally: out bettering works)

Ausmusterung
Withdrawal, the taking out of service

Austauschbauart
A type of goods wagon design using standard components developed by the DRG.

Autotransportwagen
Double-deck car-carrier
am. Auto-rack freight cars

B....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Bahnanlagen
Railway plant or equipment.
See appendix: Bahnanlagen

Bahnbetriebswerk (Bw)
Loco shed / loco depot

Bahndienstwagen
Maintenance of way vehicle

Bahnhof (Bf)
Station

Bahnsteig
Platform

Bahnubergang, schienengleicher
Level crossing
am. Grade crossing

Beleuchtung
Lighting

Baugro?e
Doesn't translate well, but essentially means scale

Baureihe
Class

Befahren
To negotiate (a bend)

Befestigt
Mounted

Bekohlungsanlage
Coaling facility

Beschriftung
Lettering

Betrieb
Operation (back in …)
am. Operation, business

Bettung
Track bed

Blasrohr
Blast pipe

Blattfeder
Leaf spring

Blockabschnitt
Block section

Bogen
Curve

Bogenweiche
Curved point
am. Switch or turnout

Breitspur
Broad gauge (geater than 4'8.5" / 1435mm)
There were plans in 1942 to build a network of lines over Europe of 3000mm gauge (approx. 9'10"). - It never happened.

Bremsen
Brakes

Bremser
Brakeman

Bremserhaus
Brakeman's cabin

Bremsgestange
Brake rigging

Bremsprobe
Brake test
am. Air test

Bremsschlauch
Brake hose

Bundesbahn-Zentralamt
DB central administrative bureau

C....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Crampton
A particular type of (old) steam locomotive, usually with large diameter driving wheels under the cab.

D....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Dach
Roof

Dampfdom
Steam dome

Dampflokomotive
Steam locomotive

Dampfpfeife
Steam whistle

Dampfspeicherlokomotiven
Fireless loco - runs from a tank of steam

Dampfstrahlpumpen
Injector

Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG)
German Railway (Unified Germany)

Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB)
German Federal Railway (post WWII - West German)

Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR)
German State Railway (post WWII - East Germany)

Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (DRG)
German State Railway from 1920-1949

Deutsche Schlafwagen und Speisewagen Gesellschaft (DSG)
German Sleeping Car and Restaurant Car company. Formed in 1950 to handle all internal sleeping and dining car services on the DB.
Renamed Deutsche Service Gesellschaft der Bahn in 1990.

Deutscher Staatsbahnwagen-Verband
German Railway Wagon Assoc. An organisation formed in 1909 to standardise the components in goods wagons, enabling the easier repair of 'foreign' wagons. Wagons to this design are called VERBANDSBAUART.

DIN
Deutsche Industrie-Norm - Standards in German industry - like the BSI or ISO

Doppel-Kreuzungsweiche (DKW)
Double-slip (switch/turnout), diamond crossing with slips
am. Double-slip crossing

Doppel-Kreuzungsweiche (DKW) Bauart "Baeseler"
An unusual design of double-slip (see DKW above) that I've not seen outside Germany or Austria.
Roco are the only company I know that makes a model of one.

Doppelte Weichenverbindung
Double cross-over

Drehgestell
Bogie
am. Truck

Drehscheibe
Turntable

Dreiweg-Weiche (DWW)
Three-way point
am. Three-way switch/turnout

Druckluft
Compressed air - for the brakes... usually 8kg/cm2

E....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Eilzug
Through train, stopping train

Einfache-Kreuzungsweiche (EKW)
Single-slip (switch/turnout)

Einheitslok
DRG 'standard' design locomotive

Eisenbahn Direction (ED)
A regional administrative unit

Entkupplungsgleis
A piece of model track with an integral un-coupler

Entladeklappe
Unloading hatch

Epoche
Era. See An attempt to explain Epochs.

Erster-Klasse-Abteil
First-class compartment
am. Parlor car, chair car

Erzwagen
Mineral wagon
am. Ore car

Erzbahn
Mine railway

Eselsrucken
Hump (in a gravity yard)

Exzenterstange
Eccentric rod

F....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Fahrdraht
Catenary wire

Fahrgestell
Running gear, wheels & suspension

Fahrkarten-Schalter
Booking office
am. Ticket office

Fairlie
A form of articulation for steam locomotives. Usually refers to a double Fairlie where a double-ended boiler sits on 2 powered units (with cylinders on the outer ends) that are free to move.
99 162 is a Fairlie.

Faltenbalg
Gangway bellows

Faltenbalgubergang
Doesn't translate very well, but 'old style corridor connection' is probably good enough.

Faltenbalg-Ubergang
Intercommunicating gangway bellows

Feder
Spring

Feldbahn
Literally 'field railway', used to describe light and industrial railways, usually narrow gauge

Feuerbuchse
(Inner) fire box

Feuergewolbe
Brick arch

Feuerkammer
Fire box

Feuerrohr
(Large) flue tube

Flachdach
Flat roof

Flachstelle
Flat, wheel flat
am. Flat spot, flat wheel

Fotohalt (bei Sonderfahrten)
Special stop on an excursion for photographers to get off the train to take photos.
am. Photo run-by

Franco-Crosti-Kessel
Unusual boiler design consisting of 2 cylinders one above the other, with the chimney along the side of the loco. Too complex to explain here.
50 4018 has a Crosti boiler

Fuhrerhaus / Fuhrerstand
Cab

Funkenfanger
Spark arrester, spark catcher

G....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Gedeckter Guterwagen
Closed goods wagon
am. Boxcar

Gefalle
Gradient
am.Grade

Gelenk
Articulation

Gelenklokomotiven
Articulated locomotives. See Mallet and Meyer below as examples

Genieteter
Riveted

Gepackabteil
Baggage compartment

Gepackwagen
Baggage car

Gerade, gerades Gleis
Straight track, tangent track

Gleis
Track, can also mean platform
See appendix: Terms related to Rail or Track

Gleisanlage
Trackage

Gleisbauarbeiter
Track worker
am. Gandy dancer

Gleisbremse
Rail brake

Gleisdreieck
Triangular junction (primarily for turning locomotives or whole trains)
am. Wye-track, Y-track

Gleiswaage
Track scales, freight car scales, rolling stock weigh bridge

Gleitlager
Plain-bearing axle-box
am. Friction bearing

Gliederzug
Articulated train (e.g. Talgo train)

Gro?herzoglich Badische Staatseisenbahn (BADEN)
Grand Duchy of Baden State Railway

Gro?herzoglich Mecklenburgische Friedrich-Franz-Eisenbahn (MFFE)
Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg Frederick-Franz-Railway

Gro?herzoglich Oldenburgische Staatseisenbahn (Oldenburg)
Grand Duchy of Oldenburg State Railway

Gummiwulstubergang
Doesn't translate very well, but 'new style rubber corridor connection' is probably good enough.

Guterbahnhof
Freight depot, freight yard
am. Yard

Guterfernverkehr
Long-distance (freight) haulage

Guterschuppen
Freight shed

Guterzug
Freight train, goods train

Guterzug Tenderlokomotiven
Freight (tank) locomotives

Guterzugbegleitwagen
Guards van
am. Caboose, waycar

Guterzuglokomotiven
Freight (tender) locomotives

H....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Haftreifen
Rubber or synthetic traction tyres fitted to model locomotive wheels to increase grip

Hauptbahn
Mainline

Hauptbahnhof (Hbf)
Main station

Hauptluftbehalter
Main air reservoir

Heeresfeldbahn
German military (field) railways, used in WWI and WWII

Hei?dampf
Superheated steam locomotive

Hei?laufer
Hot box

Hei?laufer-Ortungsgerat
Hot box detector

Hei?laufen
To heat up

Heizer
Fireman (stoker)

Hilfsblaser
Blower - as an artificial draft for raising steam

Hochdruck (HD)
High pressure (steam locomotive boiler)

Hochstgeschwindigkeit
Maximum speed

Huckepackwagen
Piggyback wagon (lorry trailer transporter)
am. Piggyback, trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC)

I....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Indusi
An inductive train safety device which will stop the train automatically if the driver fails to observe signal indications

J....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Jahrhundert
Century

K....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Kessel
Boiler

Kesselsicherheitsventile / Sicherheitsventile
(Boiler) safety valve

Kesselwagen
Tank wagon

Klose Triebwerk / Klose Lenkachsen
An unusual form of compensation found on some Wurttemberg steam locos designed to assist negotiation round tight curves.
99 622 has Klose Lenkachsen

Klotzbremse
Shoe brake

Kohlenkasten
Coal space in the tender

Kohlenstaubfeuerung
Pulverised (coal) fuel firing

Kolben
Piston

Kolbenschieber
Piston valve

Kolbenstange
Piston rod

Kombiverkehr, Wagen fur den ...
Intermodal wagon
am. Intermodal car

Koniglich Bayerische Staatseisenbahn (K.Bay.Sts.B.)
Royal Bavarian State Railway

Koniglich Preu?ische Eisenbahn-Verwaltung (K.P.E.V.)
Royal Prussian Railway Administration

Koniglich Preu?ische und Gro?herzoglich Hessische Staatseisenbahn (K.P.u.G.H.St.E.)
Royal Prussian and the Grand Duchy of Hessian State Railway

Koniglich Sachsische Staatseisenbahn (K.Sachs.Sts.E.B.)
Royal Saxon State Railway

Koniglich Wurttembergische Staatseisenbahn (K.W.St.E.)
Royal Wurttemberg State Railway

Kran
Crane

Kraus-Helmholtz-Drehgestell
Movement of the front bogie causes lateral movement of the front driving wheels to ease the locomotive round curves

Kreuzkopf
Cross head

Kreuzung
Plain track crossing
am. Diamond (crossing)

Kriegslok
War or austerity locomotive
e.g. 50UK (a stripped down 50), 42 and 52

Kuhlwagen
Refrigerator wagon
am. Reefer

Kulisse
Motion link

Kuppelachse
Coupled axle

Kuppelstange
Coupling rod

Kupplung
Coupling
am. Coupler

Kupplungspiel
Slack (in the couplings)

Kurbelachse
Crank axle

Kurbelstange
Connecting rod (i.e. connecting the driving wheels together)

Kurve, uberhohte
Super-elevated curve

Kurvenreiche Strecke
Winding line/route

L....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Ladema?
Loading gauge

Ladema?-Uberschreitung
Out-of-gauge load

Lander
German Lander are similar to English counties, or American states

Landerbahnen
Railways of the former German states (like Prussia) rather than the German State Railway (DRG)

Lange uber Puffer (LuP)
Length over buffers

Lasche
Fishplate

Laufachse
Carrying axle

Leerfahrt
Light running

Leerlok
Locomotive running light (i.e. no train)

Lichtraumprofil
Loading gauge

Linienzugbeeinflussung
Continuous automatic train-running control

Lok mit starrem Rahmen
Rigid-frame loco

Lokalbahn
Branchline

Lokalbahnlok(omotive)
Branchline locomotives / light railway engine

Lokfuhrer
(Engine) driver
am. Engineer

Lokomotive, Lok
Locomotive, loco
am. Engine

Lokschuppen
Engine shed, locomotive shed
am. Enginehouse

Luftpumpe
Air pump

LuP
Length over buffers

M....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Mallet
A form of articulation for steam locomotives where the locomotive consists of a boiler on top of two powered bogies, both of which face forward, and only the front bogie is free to move.
Mallets are usually (but not always) compounds, and if compounds, the low pressure cylinders are at the front.
96 022 is a (compound) Mallet.

Ma?stab
Scale

Mehrfachtraktion
Multiple unit

Me?wagen
Test coach

Meyer
A form of articulation for steam locomotives where the locomotive consists of a boiler on top of two powered bogies, both of which are free to move. Usually both sets of cylinders are adjacent to each other.
98 001 is a Meyer.

MITROPA
Mitteleuropaischen Schlafwagen- und Speisewagen- Aktiengesellschaft
The Middle European Sleeping- and Dining- car company.

Mitteldruck
Medium pressure (steam locomotive boiler)

Montage
Assembly

MOROP
Union Europeenne des Modelistes Ferroviaires et des Amis de Chemins de Fer / Verband der Modelleisenbahner und Eisenbahnfreunde Europas
(The Union of European Railway Modellers and Railway Enthusiasts)

N....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Nachbau
Replica / reproduction. Also used to describe locomotives built by the DRG to earlier designs.

Nachschieben
Banking
am. Helper or pusher operation

Na?dampf
Saturated steam locomotive. i.e. not superheated

Nebenbahn
Branch line

NEM
Normen europaeischer Modelleisenbahnen - Standards of European model railways

NEM 311, 313 & 314
Wheel profile standards

NEM 362
A standard for coupling pockets which makes the interchange of coupling heads easy.
Note that NEM 362 does not cover the close coupling mechanism, just the coupler's fitting.

Neu
New

Neusilber
Nickel-silver

Niederbordwagen
Open wagon / wagon with low sides (lower than a coal wagon)
am. Low side gondola

Niederdruck
Low pressure (of steam locomotive boiler)

Niete
Rivet

Normalspur
Standard gauge (4' 8.5" / 1435mm)

O....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Oberflachenvorwarmer
Feed water heater

Oberleitung
Catenary

Offener Guterwagen
Open goods wagon
am. Gondola

Olhauptfeuerung
Oil firing, oil burning

OPW
Obschtschij Park Grusowych Wagonow - Joint wagon pool of the Socialist European States

OSShD
Organisazija Sodrushestwa Shelesnych Dorog - Organisation for the combined operations of railways - eastern Europe.

P....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Personenwagen
Passenger coach
am. Passenger car

Personenzug
Passenger train

Personenzuglokomotiven
Passenger (tender) locomotives (as opposed to express passenger locomotives)

PersonenzugTenderlokomotiven
Passenger (tank) locomotives

Pfalzbahn der Koniglich Bayerischen Staatseisenbahn (PfalzB)
Pfalz Railway of the Royal Bavarian State Railway

Pre?span
Particle board

Prellbock
Buffer stop
am. Bumper

Probefahrt
Test run

PSe
Effective power at the drawbar

PSi
Indicated power at the cylinders

Puffer
Buffer

Q....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

R....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Radsatz
Wheel set

Radreifen
Tyre, the rim of the wheel
am.Tire

Rahmen
Frame

RAL
Reichsausschu? fur Lieferbedingungen - a standardisation system introduced in 1927 and still used today for indentifying colours.
Frequently used for model paint colours in Europe, but not in America.

Rangierbahnhof
Marshalling yard, goods yard
am. Switching yard

Rangieren
To shunt
am. Switching

Rangieren mit Absto?en
Fly shunting

Rangiergleis
Siding, sidetrack

Rangierlok(omotive)
Shunting locomotive
am. Switcher

Rangiersignal
Shunting signal

Rauchkammer
Smoke box

Rauchrohr
Boiler tube

Rauchrohr-Uberhitzer
Smokebox superheater

RAW
Reichsbahn Ausbesserungswerk (Reichsbahn repair / workshops)

Regelspur
Standard gauge

Regler
Regulator
am. Throttle

Reichsbahn Direction (Rbd)
A regional DRG administrative unit

RIC
Regolamento Internazionale Carozzi - An organisation that overseas design and construction of coaches that can be used throughout Europe.
Covers size, weight, brakes etc.

Riffeln
Corrugation to rail surface causing excessive noise and vibration which has to ground off with special equipment.

Riggenbach
A form of rack system, where the rack is formed of rungs between to side bars - very much like a normal ladder.

Riggenbach-Gegendruckbremse
Riggenbach's counter-pressure brake. Limits the amount of steam that can escape from the cylinders during steep downhill running.

Riggenbach Bauart Bissinger-Klose
A variation on the Riggenbach rack system where the rack rail is milled from a solid piece of metal rather than fabricated from bars.

Ringlokschuppen
Roundhouse

RIV
Regolamento Internazionale Veicoli - An organisation that overseas design and construction of wagons that can be used throughout Europe.
Covers size, weight, brakes etc.

Rollbock
Wagon carrier truck

Rollbockgrube
Carrier truck pit

Rollenlager
Roller-bearing axle-box

Rost
Grate (in the fire box)

Rungenwagen
Low sided wagon with stakes or stanchions

S....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Sandkasten
Sand box

Sattelanhaenger
Road semi-trailer

Sattelauflieger
Road semi-trailer

Saugluft
Vaccuum - as in vaccuum brakes

Schiebebuhne
Transfer table, traverser, travelling platform

Schieberkasten
Steam chest

Schiebetur
Sliding door

Schiene
Rail

Schienensteg
A technical term used to describe the fillet radius between the web and head of the rail

Schienensto?
Joint, rail joint

Schienenverbinder
Rail joiner

Schlacke
Slag

Schlafwagen
Sleeping car
am. Sleeper

Schlepptenderlok(omotive)
Tender locomotive

Schmalspur
Narrow-gauge (less than 4'8.5" / 1435mm)

Schmalspurlokomotiven
Narrow-gauge locomotives

Schnellzug
Express train - usually passenger

Schnellzuglokomotiven
Express passenger (tender) locomotives

Schornstein
Chimney
am. Smoke-stack

Schotter
Ballast

Schwelle
Sleeper
am. Tie

Schwelle > Nagel
Track spike, nail

Schwelle > Unterlagsplatte
Base plate

Schwelle > Stahlbetonschwelle
Reinforced-concrete sleeper

Schwinge
Motion link

Schwungmasse
Flywheel

Sicherheitsventil
Safety valve

Signale
Signals
See appendix: Terms related to Signalling

Sonderzug
Special train, special running

Speichenrad
Spoked wheel

Speisedom
Feed dome

Speisepumpe / Speisewasserkolbenpumpe
(Water) feed pump

Speisewagen
Dining car
am. Diner

Sperrholz
Plywood

Spitzkehre
Setting-back track

Spurerweiterung
Excess width (of the track gauge)

Spurkranz
Flange

Spurkranzschmierung
Flange-lubricating device
am. Flange oilers

Spurweite
Gauge

Stahlbetonbruecke
Concrete-girder bridge

Standseilbahn
Cable or funicular railway

Stehbolzen
Stay bolt, crown stay

Steigung
Bank, gradient
am. Grade

Steilrampe
am.Drag

Steilstrecke
Line with steep gradients

Stellwerk
Signal box
am. Switch tower

Steuerung
Valve gear only - not connecting rods

Steuerwagen
Driving or control trailer
am. Cab car

Streckengeher
Track worker, ganger
am. Track-man, track-walker

Strub
A form of rack system where the rack rail is made from teeth cut into a bar.

Stuck
The quantity of something.
i.e. 2 Stuck …..., 2 of something

T....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Tenderlok(omotive)
Tank locomotive

Tiefladewagen
Depressed center flat (well) wagon / car

Transportgesellschaft
Haulage contractor
am.Carrier

Treibachse
Driving axle

Treibstange
Coupling rod (i.e. cylinder cross-head to driving wheel)

Triebkopf
Power car - on end of multiple unit

Triebwagen
Railcar

Triebwerk
"…werk" means a combination of components put together for a specific purpose. Power transmission.
1. engine of an airplane, 2. motor of a car, 3. system of rod(s) to transmit the power of a (steam) loco to driving and coupled axles.

Trieb(wagen)zug
Multiple unit

U....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Uberhitzer
Superheater

Ubergangsbogen
Junction curve

UIC
Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer - International Railway Union/Organisation.

Umbau
Rebuilt

Umbaufahrzeug
Rebuilt vehicle using the older underframe

Umfahrungsgleis
Loop line
am. Runaround, spur track

V....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Verbandsbauart
A type of goods wagon design standardised by the Deutschen Staatsbahnwagen-Verband (German Railway Wagon Assoc.)

Verbindungsgleis
Special track to interconnect two crossing mainlines otherwise not connected.

Verbund
Compound loco - a system whereby the steam from the boiler is used twice before being exhausted. High pressure (small) cylinders first, then the lower pressure (larger) cylinders. 2 and 3-cylinder compounds exist, 4-cylinders are more common.
96 022 is a (compound) Mallet.
18 484 is a 4-cylinder 2'C1'. (You can actually see the tail rods for the inner cylinders just above one of the headlights)

W....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Wagenumlauf
Turnaround cycle
am. Turn

Wannentender
Bath-tub tender - a wartime austerity design

Warmeschutz-Wagen
Insulated wagon

Warmeschutz-Verkleidung
Heat insulation / cladding

Waschluke
Boiler washout plugs

Wasserkasten
Water space in the tender

Wasserkran
Water crane

Wasserturm
Water tower

Weiche
Point / turnout
am. Switch
See appendix: Terms related to Points (am. Switches)

Windleitbleche
Smoke deflector

X....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Y....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Z....
Go back to the top of the dictionary

Zahnradbahn
Rack (and pinion) railway
am. Cog railway

Zahnradlokomotiven
Rack (and pinion) locomotives

Zentrale Betriebsleitung, ZBL
Central control office (as in signalling)
am. CTC, central traffic control

Zubehor
Accessories

Zugbeeinflussung
Automatic train control

Zughaken
Coupling hook

Zugzielanzeiger
Destination display

Zwergsignal
Dwarf signal (placed between tracks)

Zwischenwagen
Intermediate coach

Zylinder
Cylinder

Zylinderventile
Cylinder drain cocks


Go back Go back to the German railway index page German Railways
 
www.
WorldRailFans
.org
Select from:
HOME
RAILWAY DISCUSSION FORUM
SEARCH
HELP / INFO
LINKS
SUPPORTERS
FEEDBACK
All information on this site Copyright 1996-2004
This site last updated: 4th January 2003
This page last updated: 30th August 2017