Please view our glossary which contains keywords for both TRAC Intermodal and the Intermodal Industry at large.



Accessorial Charges
Charges for a wide variety of services and privileges that are made available in connection with the transportation of goods. Includes all charges other than freight charges.

Air Problems
Any issues associated with the air brake system, including leaking gasket, frozen or blocked train line, stuck triple valve.

Availability Time
The time equipment is grounded and available for pick-up by the customer.

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Back Haul
Traffic for the return movement of a container towards the point where the initial load originated or to handle a shipment in the direction of the light flow of traffic.

Beneficial Cargo Owner
The actual owner of the lading that is being shipped. The IMC negotiates transportation services and rates on behalf of the beneficial cargo owner.

Billing Carrier (Bill Road)
The carrier performing the first line haul service of the movement. This carrier is responsible for preparing the waybill document and transmitting the information to any following carriers.

Bill of Lading
A shipping form which is both a receipt for property and a contract for delivery of goods by a carrier. The principal bills of lading are:

Straight – A non-negotiable document. Surrender of the original is not required upon delivery of the freight unless necessary to identify consignee.

Order – A negotiable document. Surrender of the original property endorsed is required by transportation lines upon delivery of the freight, in accordance with its terms.

Clean – Either a Straight or Order Bill of Lading in which the transportation company acknowledges receipt of the property without noting any exceptions as to shortage or damage to the property received.

Exchange – A bill of lading which is given in exchange for another.

Export – One given to cover a shipment consigned to some foreign country.

Government – A special form of bill of lading which is used in making shipments for the account of the United States Government.

Blocking or Bracing
Wood or metal or other approved supports to keep shipments in place in or on rail cars, containers and trailers.

Motor Carrier slang indicating a non-revenue movement without a trailer or container attached.

Bonded Warehouse
A warehouse owned by persons approved by the Treasury Department, an under bond or guarantee for the strict observance of the revenue laws; utilized for storing goods until duties are paid or goods are otherwise properly released.

Bridge Move
A railroad movement involving at least three roadhaul carriers at which the IP is neither the first or last carrier.

An individual who acts as an agent for a customer, who is attempting to route a car to a customer in Mexico or Canada. Equipment destined to a locale in Mexico is billed only to the border. At that time a broker, in cooperation with a broker in Mexico, prepares the proper paperwork which allows the car to cross the border and proceed to its destination.


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Pick up or delivery of freight within commercial zone of a city by local carrier acting as agent for a shipper or over-the-rail carrier.

A rubber-tired trailer under-frame on which a container is mounted for street or highway transport.

Circus Ramp
Stationary or portable end loading/unloading ramp which requires a truck tractor to drive a trailer onto or off of rail flatcars.

A demand, supported by evidence, to show that the claimant has sustained a loss through the negligence of a carrier. The principal kinds are:

Damage Claim due to physical injury to shipment or because shipment was not delivered within a reasonable time.

Loss Claim due to failure to deliver goods.

Overcharge Claims when more than the legally published charges were collected.

Reparation Claims for a refund of charges which, while in accordance with legally published tariffs, are unreasonable or unjust and the carrier has since published the lower reasonable rate.

The limiting dimensions of a shipment that would allow/prevent its clearing of tunnels and bridges.

COFC (container on flatcar)
The movement of a container on a railroad flatcar. This movement is made without the container being mounted on a chassis.

Common Carrier
A transportation line engaged in the business of handling persons or goods for compensation and for all persons impartially.

Connecting Carrier
A carrier that has a direct physical connection with another or forming a connecting link between two or more carriers.

The individual or organization to which freight is shipped. Freight is shipped by the consignor to the consignee.

The individual or organization shipping freight to a consignee.

A receptacle that resembles a truck trailer without wheels. Containers are designed for all modes of intermodal transport. Most containers are 20-, 45-, 48- or 53-feet in length.

Container Yard
A yard used for storage of containers when not in use.

Conventional Car
A single platform flat car designed to carry a trailer or container. Containers can only be single stacked on a conventional car. Conventional cars are equipped with one or two stanctions, depending on length, for shipment of one or two trailers.

A large machine that is used to load and  unload both cargo vessels and train cars.

When a drayman delivers a container or trailer from one railroad to another for continuance of the move.

Customs Broker
A company or individual licensed by the Treasury Department to act on behalf of importers/exporters in handling U.S. customs transactions.

Cut-Off Time
The time a container or trailer must be ingated at the terminal to meet a scheduled vessel or train  loading for departure.



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Dead Head
When a drayage firm is required to move empty equipment a long distance to pick up a load.

A charge made on trailers/containers held by or for a consignor/consignee for loading or unloading, forwarding directions or any other purpose.

Displacement Light
The weight of a vessel without cargo, fuel or stores.

A change made in the route of a shipment in transit.

The amount of revenue apportioned to each rail carrier participating in a given route, where the customer is invoiced on a through-rate basis.

A movement of lading from the customers front door (dock) to the receivers front door (dock).

A movement of lading from the customers front door (dock) to the destination intermodal ramp closest to the receiver.

The movement of containers on articulated rail cars which enable the one container to be stacked on another container for better ride quality and car utilization.

The movement of a container or trailer to or from the railroad intermodal terminal to or from the customer’s facility for loading or unloading.

A person employed to pick up or drop off a container or trailer at an intermodal terminal.

Driver Assist
When a drayman is required to assist in the loading/unloading of a container or trailer.

Drop & Pull
Drayman drops loaded or unloaded unit at shipper or receiver and hooks up to unit which was previously dropped and returns it to the ramp.

Dry Run
When a drayman goes to a ramp to pick up a container and for some reason leaves without one.

The material used to protect or support freight in containers or trailers.

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EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
The process of sending and retrieving information electronically, i.e. bills of lading, freight bills, etc.

To resist or prohibit the acceptance and handling of freight. An embargo may be caused by acts of God such as tornadoes, floods, inclement weather, congestion, etc.

En Route
In transit to destination.

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Freight of All Kinds

A freight car having a floor without any housing or body above. Frequently used to carry containers and/or trailers or oversized/odd-shaped commodities. The three types of flatcars used in intermodal are conventional, spine and stack cars.

When a container is picked up off of the ground and mounted on a chassis for street or highway transport.

Flip Charges
Charges assessed to a shipper when the railroad is required to provide an unnecessary or extra flip. An example of this is when a private container is grounded off of a train and no chassis is available at that time. A flip charge is assessed because a flip is required at a time after the train is unloaded.

Foreign Equipment
Any car not belonging to the particular railway on which it is running.

Foreign Carrier
A term used by a carrier in making references to all other carriers collectively.

Free Time
The period allowed the owner to accept delivery before storage or detention charges begin to accrue.

Freight Bill
Statements containing commodity and payment information.

Freight Forwarder
One who assembles small shipments into one large shipment which then is tendered to a regulated over the road carrier. Upon reaching destination, the shipment is separated into small shipments and delivered.

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A point at an intermodal terminal where a clerk checks in and out all containers and trailer. All reservations and paperwork are checked at the gatehouse.

A structure at the gate where a clerk inspects and clears the entrance and exit of all containers and trailers.

A point through which freight commonly moves from one territory or carrier to another.

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A legal agreement between two rail partners. The owner of the agreement is referred to as the ‘Haulage Rights Carrier.’ The other partner is referred to as the ‘Haulage Movement Carrier.’ With this agreement, the ‘rights carrier’ requests the ‘movement carrier’ to move equipment over an agreed segment of track, but to outside parties it appears as if the ‘rights carrier’ is doing the work.

Hazardous Material (Haz Mat)
Substance or combination their of which, because of its quantity, concentration, physical or chemical characteristics, may cause or significantly pose a substantial hazard to human health or the environment when improperly packaged, stored, transported or otherwise managed.

Rail or truck term used to define the highest revenue generating shipping lane from shipper to receiver.

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Interstate Commerce Commission, a federal regulatory agency that governed over the rules and regulations of the railroading industry. The ICC Termination Act of 1995 ended this regulatory agency. Most responsibilities were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.

When lading clears customs at the ultimate destination instead of at the border.

The process of checking a container or trailer into the intermodal facility. The ingate process includes inspection of the unit, reservation confirmation, the input of data into management computer systems.

Inland Carrier
A transportation company which hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.

The exchange of rail cars between connecting railroads.

Interchange Agreement
Agreement between a railroad and a drayage company that allows a specific drayage company to drop off or pick up railroad or private intermodal equipment at the said railroad’s facilities. Also known as an Equipment Interchange Agreement.

lnterline Freight
Freight moving from point of origin to destination over two or more transportation lines.

Transport of freight by two or modes of transportation. Examples are: ship-rail, rail-truck.

Intermodal Terminal
A railroad facility designed for the loading and unloading of containers and trailers to and from flat cars for movement on the railroad and subsequent movement on the street or highway.

Intermodal Marketing Company (IMC)
IMCs purchase rail and truck transportation services, utilize equipment from multiple sources, and provide other value-added services under a single freight bill to the ultimate shipper.

Intermodal equipment (IME)
Trailing equipment that is used in the intermodal transportation of containers over public highways in interstate commerce, mainly chassis, but also including trailers

Intermodal equipment provider (IEP)
Any person/company that interchanges IME with a motor carrier pursuant to a written interchange agreement or has a contractual responsibility for the maintenance of the IME

Intermodal Association of North America (IANA)
An industry trade association representing the combined interests of intermodal freight transportation companies.

IPI (Interior Point Intermodal)
Imported traffic movement from an origin port to an inland point on an ocean bill of lading.

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That which constitutes a load. The freight in or on a rail car, container or trailer.

Containerized marine traffic that is routed via rail across the United States on traffic between the Far East and Europe/Canada in lieu of all water routes.

Landing Gear
Moveable metal legs on the front of a semi-trailer which support the trailer when not connected to a tractor.

The process of moving a container or trailer to and or from a rail car.

Live Load
When a drayman stays with a container or trailer while being loaded or unloaded.

Load Shift
The term when the contents of a container or trailer are shifted inside the unit sometime after it leaves the actual origin and before it arrives at the final destination.

Local Move
A railroad movement in which only one road haul carrier participates. The one carrier serves both the origin and destination station.

LTL (Less Than Truckload)
A shipment that would not by itself fill the truck to capacity by weight or volume.

A person hired to help unload a container or trailer instead of using the driver.

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Mexico Crossings
Number of cars delivered/received on a daily basis between Union Pacific and Mexican railways at border points, such as Laredo, Texas.

Imported traffic movement from an origin port to a destination port on an ocean bill of lading via land transportation.


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Notify Party
The party that is notified at the time a container or trailer is grounded from a train or vessel. Most notify parties are draymen.

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Ocean Bill of Lading
Receipt and contract of carriage with a steamship company movement of goods between ports.

Off Junction
Location where interchange to another carrier takes place.

OTR (Over the Road)
Refers to movement of a truck over the road instead of an intermodal movement.

The process of checking a container or trailer out of an intermodal facility. The outgate process includes inspection of the unit, input of data into IEP Computer systems.

Overhead Shipment
A railroad movement involving at least three railroad carriers at which UP is neither the first nor the last carrier.

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A moveable piece of heavy machinery used to lift rail containers or trailers on/off railroad flatcars at an intermodal facility. Also known as a piggybacker.

Packing List
A detailed specification as to goods packed into a container or trailer.

An area within a parking lot or intermodal terminal designated for a particular type of container or trailer, such as loaded outbound.

A wooden, paper or plastic platform usually with a top and bottom, on which packaged goods are placed to facilitate movement by some type of freight handling equipment.

Per Diem
Charge based on a fixed rate per day which a carrier makes against another carrier or customer for use of its containers or trailers or chassis.

Pickup Number
A secure number provided to parties listed on the waybill. It allows only those parties to receive a container in order to outgate from our ramp facilties.

Transportation of a highway trailer on a railroad flatcar.

A railroad term for trailers loaded on flatcars.

A sign affixed to a rail car or truck, which indicates the hazardous designation of the product being transported in that vehicle.

An assigned group of containers, trailers or chassis used to satisfy the transportation requirements of a customer.

Port Charge
A charge for services rendered at ports.

Port Mark
A term used in foreign shipping which denotes final destination – not the port of entry unless such port is the final destination.

Port of Entry
A port at which foreign goods are admitted into the receiving country. Ports of entry are officially designated by the government.

Power Short
Means there is not enough power coming into the terminal to protect the scheduled outbound departures.

Private Equipment
Equipment whose ownership is vested in a person or company that is not engaged in the service of common carriage.

A 28′ trailer, used mostly in less-than-truckload business.

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Slang word for an intermodal terminal. Ramps were originally structures, permanent or temporary, from which trailers or machinery are driven onto or off of a railroad flatcar.

A movement of lading from the intermodal ramp closest to the customer to the receivers from door (dock).

A movement of lading from the intermodal ramp closest to the customer to the closest intermodal ramp to the receiver.

Any change, other than a change in route, made in a consignment before the arrival of goods at their billed destination. Any change made in a consignment after the arrival of goods at their billed destination. When the change is accomplished under conditions which make it subject to the reconsignment rules and charges of the carrier.

Rubber Wheel Interchange
Containers or trailers that are interchanged between two railroads by means of drayage.

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A device for fastening or locking the doors of a rail car, container or trailer. This is done for security and integrity of the shipment.

Steel Wheel Interchange
Containers or trailers that are interchanged between two railroads while on the railroad flatcar.

Storage Charge
A charge assigned to the shipper or consignee for holding containers or trailers at an intermodal terminal beyond the free time allotted to them.

System Equipment
Equipment owned or leased by a railroad. Each railroad considers their own equipment as system equipment.

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Tare Weight
The weight of a container and the material used for packing. As applied to a car/trailer, the weight of the car/trailer exclusive of its contents.

A legal listing of rates used when moving regulated traffic by rail.

Through Rate
A rate applicable from origin to destination over two or more rail carriers.

To Go “In the Hole”
When at the meeting point of opposing trains, one train “holds the main,” the other “takes the hole” in a siding.

TOFC (trailer on flatcar)
A rail trailer or container mounted on a chassis that is transported on a rail car. Also known as piggyback.

A rectangular shaped box with permanent wheels attached for the transport of goods on rail, highway or a combination of both.

To physically transfer product from one transportation vehicle to another.

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Van Grounding
The event when a container or trailer is taken off of the train and placed on the ground for customer pickup. At this time, the container is mounted on a chassis and the notify party is notified.

Van Notify
The event when the notify party is notified by the railroad that the container or trailer is available for pickup.

Vessel’s Manifest
Statement of vessel’s cargo, revenue, consignee, etc.

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A document covering a shipment and showing the forwarding and receiving station, the names of consignor and consignee, the car initials and number, the routing, the description and weight of the commodity, instructions for special services, the rate, total charges, advances and waybill reference for previous services and the amount prepaid.

Well Car
An intermodal flatcar that was specifically designed to place one container on top of another better utilization and economics. Referred to as a well car because the cars are depressed in the center to allow clearance of the double-stacked containers when moving under low-lying structures.

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