Railway vs Railroad
The distinction between railway and railroad lies in their usage rather than their meaning. In the UK and commonwealth countries, the term “railway” is used to describe a system of rails and trains that transport passengers and cargo across long distances at high speeds. In the US, this system is referred to as a “railroad.” The term “railway” is more popular globally, but both words essentially describe the same system.
What is Railway?
A railway is the track on which a train runs. This international term is commonly used in most parts of the world, possibly due to the influence of the British Empire. Countries such as Hong Kong, which was a former British territory, and Australia still use the term “railway” to describe train tracks.
Trains that run on roads in US cities are traditionally called railways, while the rest of the world refers to them as trams or streetcars. There is no strict rule regarding the use of these terms, and some companies choose to call themselves railways rather than railroads. Examples include BNSF, the Staten Island Railway, and the New York and Atlantic Railway.
What is Railroad?
A railroad is also a track on which trains run, essentially meaning the same thing as a railway. The only difference is in the US, where the term “railroad” is exclusively used to describe trains that travel long distances on tracks. While other countries use both terms interchangeably, the US only uses “railroad” to describe train tracks.
Before 1850, the term “railroad” was used in the UK, but it was written as “rail road.” With the increasing popularity of railways, the term “rail road” fell out of usage in favor of “railways.” This preference for “railways” can be seen in many countries around the world, such as Hong Kong, Australia, and Canada.
- Railway and railroad both refer to the track on which a train runs, but their usage varies by region.
- Railway is the more commonly used term worldwide, whereas railroad is predominantly used in the US.
- Companies have the choice to call themselves railways or railroads, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably when mergers or takeovers occur.