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Glossary

Explanations of some of the technical terms used on this site. Where these terms occur in the text of documents in Historic Railway Disasters, links to this page are provided.

ATC (Automatic Train Control)
Generic term for a system designed to check the driver's reaction to signals etc. This can include cab warning systems to completely automatic control of trains.
See also AWS
AWS (Automatic Warning System)
Device to provide an in-cab warning of adverse signal indications
Banking
Term used to describe a locomotive attached to the rear of a train to assist it over an incline.
Detonator
A percussion cap which can be clipped to the rail and detonated by the wheels of a locomotive passing over it. This provides an audible warning, particularly useful in foggy conditions where semaphore signals are employed.
Double-heading
The use of two or more locomotives to pull a train. The foremost loco is known as the "pilot engine" and the one attached to the train is referred to as the "train engine".
Light engine
A locomotive proceeding under its own steam, not pulling a train. Two or more locomotives may be coupled together and still be refered to as proceeding "light engine". Such movements of locomotives are generally associated with positioning operations.
Telescoping (of vehicles)
An occurance in a train crash where one coach rides-up over the buffers of another and the under frame intrudes into the body of the other coach. This was a common feature af railway accidents until the introduction of "buck-eye" couplings.
Westinghouse (Brake)
A continuous air braking system developed by the Westinghouse Company. .

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