Different Types of Train Cars



A word that comes from the word, "Locomotion," which means moving from place to place. For more than 100 years the steam locomotive was the chief source of power on railroads all over the world. Large and small locomotives were designed for different jobs like to pull passenger trains at high speeds, for passenger service and for switching duty.

Today the diesel, electric, and gas-turbine locomotives have taken over and only a few steam locomotives are still being used.

Hopper Cars:

Hopper cars were open-topped cars with high sides and ends. Their bottom has hoppers or chutes that can be opened. The grain, flour, or cement would fall down into storage bins beneath the cars.


The flatcars were open platforms that were used for carrying lumber, steel beams, and bulky equipment such as tractors and rack cars for automobiles and many other kinds of equipment.

Tank Cars:

The tank cars were round steel tanks that were used for liquids like fuel, water, oil, gasoline, chemicals, milk and orange juice.


The boxcars were the most important type of freight cars. It carried flour, canned food, clothing, refrigerators, grain, and other goods that needed protection from the weather. There were more boxcars than any other type of rail cars. It was an enclosed, windowless car with a sliding door on each side. It was formerly built of wood but today is built of steel.


The caboose was a little car at the end of the train where crew members would observe the cars ahead for defects, process the train's paper work, operate track switches, monitor the air-brake system to see if it was functioning throughout the train, observe if the train was moving or stopped as intended by the engineer, and apply the brakes in an emergency. They also carried marker lights to warn following trains.


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