Car, Coach, Carriage, or Vehicle?

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Giugiaro

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Good afternoon everyone!

Can anyone tell me which term is better used to identify the number of the car on a given locomotive hauled train, or InterCity multiple unit?

Can't recall from last time I travelled in the UK.
 
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py_megapixel

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Passenger-facing materials use "coach" and "carriage" interchangeably. The operators seem to prefer "coach" overall.

"Car" and "vehicle" seem to be the more technical terms. In general it seems that "car" is used when describing the formation (e.g. "a 7-car unit" or "the 3rd car from the front") while "vehicle" is used when referring to one in isolation (e.g. "the driving vehicle" or "the vehicle's suspension").

None of these are hard-and-fast rules, and there are exceptions - for example, Merseyrail passenger information screens refer to "3-car" and "6-car" trains (though those aren't inter-city).
 

Giugiaro

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Passenger-facing materials use "coach" and "carriage" interchangeably. The operators seem to prefer "coach" overall.

Yes, this is what I'm looking for.

For North American and non-Native Speakers of English, is there a preference between "Carriage" and "Coach"?

I currently have "Car" set for the external PIS, but that is easily confused with "Automobile". I rather use precedence than going for straight translation logic.
 

bramling

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Passenger-facing materials use "coach" and "carriage" interchangeably. The operators seem to prefer "coach" overall.

"Car" and "vehicle" seem to be the more technical terms. In general it seems that "car" is used when describing the formation (e.g. "a 7-car unit" or "the 3rd car from the front") while "vehicle" is used when referring to one in isolation (e.g. "the driving vehicle" or "the vehicle's suspension").

None of these are hard-and-fast rules, and there are exceptions - for example, Merseyrail passenger information screens refer to "3-car" and "6-car" trains (though those aren't inter-city).

Car tends to refer more to rapid transit settings, in particular London Underground where there has been a significant American influence, but you'll also find places like Tyne & Wear or Merseyrail where this term has been used in the past. South Gosforth Car Sheds springs to mind in particular.

It's fair to say there's a lot of inconsistency, and language seems to have evolved into what sounds best or flows easiest off the tongue. "This train is formed of 8 carriages" doesn't sound quite right on a PA system, for example, hence why the word coaches seems to be more prevalent.

There probably isn't a definitive answer to the question.
 

jopsuk

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"Car" being a short form of Carriage. These terms being used in various overlapping and semi-interchangeable ways is just because English is a mess of a language.
 

py_megapixel

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I currently have "Car" set for the external PIS, but that is easily confused with "Automobile". I rather use precedence than going for straight translation logic.
That's a difficult one.

"Car" is not generally used in a public-facing way in this country - however it's the main term in use in the United States.
In this country, where long-distance trains are frequently replaced by coaches (coaches as in large buses optimised for passenger comfort, which run on the road) during times of disruption, it has been pointed out that the message "This train is formed of 3 coaches" scrolling across the PIS display could lead some passengers to believe that their train has been replaced by a set of coaches on the road.
"Carriage" is probably the least ambiguous term but I don't believe it's widely used outside the United Kingdom.

Essentially - if you're targeting American English choose "car", if you're targeting British English choose "carriage" or possibly "coach", and if you're targeting both -- who knows???
 

hexagon789

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Good afternoon everyone!

Can anyone tell me which term is better used to identify the number of the car on a given locomotive hauled train, or InterCity multiple unit?

Can't recall from last time I travelled in the UK.
As you talk about identifying 'the number of a car', I would use "coach". Individual vehicles within passenger trains are almost always referred to as "Coach" then a letter. So a 5-car train might be identified as Coach A, Coach B and so on to Coach E.

I assume that's the sort of thing you mean?
 

43096

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Car tends to refer more to rapid transit settings, in particular London Underground where there has been a significant American influence, but you'll also find places like Tyne & Wear or Merseyrail where this term has been used in the past. South Gosforth Car Sheds springs to mind in particular.
Like we use "power car" and "trailer car" for HST vehicles? :lol:

There probably isn't a definitive answer to the question.
I think that'll be the one statement we can all agree on in this thread!
 

edwin_m

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We sometimes use "railcar" to describe a multiple unit, particularly one that can singly. But in America "railcar" is any item of rolling stock, what we would call either a coach or a wagon. And "coach" in America is refers to what we would call a Standard class seating coach.

There's a lot of potential for confusion particularly when working with people whose first language is not English, and may have learned their technical vocabulary from either British or American sources.
 

The exile

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To sum up the delights of the English language and “normal” usage ( other versions are available): “The restaurant car is situated between the first and second class carriages in this 12-coach train” !! (Those were the days)
 

ac6000cw

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For 'international' English I'd probably go for 'car' or 'coach', especially where it's obvious from the situation/context that it's the passenger vehicles of a train being referred to (because you're standing next to it or sitting inside it).

It's a bit like almost every language seems to have a different word for a railway 'platform', but when you're actually standing in the station looking up at the departure board, it's not normally hard to work out which part of the display is the platform number or follow the signs to them. (Yes, I know some countries label both 'platforms' and 'tracks'...)
 

zwk500

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Seems the usual everywhere except Britain and Ireland where letters are the norm for some reason.
Commuter-type services in the UK tend to use numbers, especially with variable length formations ('this is coach 7 of 12'). Letters tend to be preferred on longer-distance interurban routes.
 

hexagon789

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Commuter-type services in the UK tend to use numbers, especially with variable length formations ('this is coach 7 of 12'). Letters tend to be preferred on longer-distance interurban routes.
Thats true, I was thinking more ilof long-distance services admittedly.

And from here it was exported to Australia as well :E
UK and Commonwealth then perhaps? ;)
 

jopsuk

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Commuter-type services in the UK tend to use numbers, especially with variable length formations ('this is coach 7 of 12'). Letters tend to be preferred on longer-distance interurban routes
Where numbers are used, they are fully digital and always have 1 at the front in the direction of travel
 

T-Karmel

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My guess is letters are used to not be mistaken with seat numbers, as they appear together on the tickets/seat reservations and that's only on long distance trains, whilst numbers on a local/commuter trains are just more practical when train stops every 5 mins and need to explain from how many carriages you can alight from at some of the stops.

Not to mention mix ups like GWR which, as far as I remember, use numbers to describe number of carriages on stations with short platforms but letters for seat reservations. Unless I'm mistaken on that one, it's been 2 years since I went to St Erth.
 
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