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"Goods train" vs "Freight train" - when did the latter become the most prominent?

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USRailFan

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While in North America and Australia, "Freight Train" always seems to have been the favoured term, in the UK both terms have been used colloquially, but with "Goods train" seeming the most prevalent, at least in the steam era. What made "Freight Train" become the more prevalent term even in the UK? And was there a difference, historically, between a "Goods Train" and a "Freight Train"?
 
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yorksrob

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I would suspect the 1960's Beeching era.

A "goods train" suggests a small steam hauled pick up goods trundling up and down between country goods yards, whereas freight suggests liner trains, container freight and merry-go-round freights.
 

30907

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I would suspect the 1960's Beeching era.

A "goods train" suggests a small steam hauled pick up goods trundling up and down between country goods yards, whereas freight suggests liner trains, container freight and merry-go-round freights.
I'm sure you are right in popular terms, but BR always referred to freight trains - but, to my surprise, this goes back to the RCH standard head codes of 1923.
https://www.igg.org.uk/rail/3-sigs/bellhead.htm

Yet of course the freights used goods loops/lines, and I think still do (where they survive)....nicely inconsistent.
 

Dr Hoo

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I note that the question is about trains but would point out that a lot of 'goods' traffic went by passenger trains - milk, fish, parcels, newspapers, mail being significant examples. (I accept that these commodities sometimes had their own dedicated trains.)
 

edwin_m

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I'm sure you are right in popular terms, but BR always referred to freight trains - but, to my surprise, this goes back to the RCH standard head codes of 1923.
https://www.igg.org.uk/rail/3-sigs/bellhead.htm

Yet of course the freights used goods loops/lines, and I think still do (where they survive)....nicely inconsistent.
Yes "goods line" is an official designation. Confusingly though passenger trains can use them if not actually carrying passengers, and passenger-carrying trains can use them under special arrangements.
 

Merle Haggard

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The original meaning of 'trucks' - certainly in a railway sense - was a wheeled vehicle that did not itself carry the payload.
That sense remained in tram usage with the description of the bogies as trucks, and also on the railway, (although slightly differently) 'pony trucks'.
 

swt_passenger

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A browse through a few online dictionaries would suggest that freight is the process of (and charges for) moving goods.
It gets more complicated with shipping, with freighters carrying a cargo of goods...
 

edwin_m

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The original meaning of 'trucks' - certainly in a railway sense - was a wheeled vehicle that did not itself carry the payload.
That sense remained in tram usage with the description of the bogies as trucks, and also on the railway, (although slightly differently) 'pony trucks'.
Reverend Awdry has a lot to answer for, though I agree "troublesome wagons" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. See also referring to a locomotive chimney as a funnel, which should be criminally punishable.
 

John Webb

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"The Oxford Companion to British Railway History" (Simmons and Biddle, OUP, 1997) says that British railways adopted the common usage of roads and inland waterways of the time in using the term 'goods' when they got going. But for some reason American railroads adopted the shipping term 'freight'. The latter term started to be used in the UK in the early 1900s, and has predominated since 1948.

The same publication only mentions 'wagons', with no reference to 'trucks'.
 
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1955LR

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I wonder if the definition 'goods' stems from the fact it may have a specific legal definition in railway legislation, it definitely does in road vehicle construction and use regulations .
 

Welshman

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I would suspect the 1960's Beeching era.

A "goods train" suggests a small steam hauled pick up goods trundling up and down between country goods yards, whereas freight suggests liner trains, container freight and merry-go-round freights.

Facilitated particularly by the 1962 Transport Act, which, amongst other things, relieved the railways of the duty of being the "common carrier"

So instead of the railways being obliged to transport every odd item [goods] presented from everywhere to anywhere, requiring stations to have a yard and a daily pick-up goods service with all the staff and infrastructure involved, they could concentrate instead on the more profitable bulk-carrying of commodities from one centre to another.



 

Merle Haggard

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Reverend Awdry has a lot to answer for, though I agree "troublesome wagons" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. See also referring to a locomotive chimney as a funnel, which should be criminally punishable.

He certainly does! His use of alliteration ('Troublesome Trucks') was unusual at the time, but probably entered the young subconscious of a generation that grew up to use it widely. S** **, S** **, S*** ** - it's all his fault!!! Grrr!!!!
 
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