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My daughter recently journeyed several hundred miles by rail.

Had she taken a bus, I could say:

"She was bussed from San Francisco to Houston"

Had she flown in an airplane, I could say:

"She flew from San Francisco to Houston"

Of course, these definitions are recognized by the dictionary; from NOAD:

fly (verb) transport in an aircraft
bus (verb) transport in a communal road vehicle

While talking to a friend about her trip, though, I found myself wondering if there's a similar verb used to describe transportation by rail.

Obviously, there are plenty of ways to say it – I'm not asking for one of these:

"She took a train from San Francisco to Houston"
"She rode on a train from San Francisco to Houston"

Instead, I'm wondering if a single verb could do the trick.

I did consider the verb railroad:

She was railroaded from San Francisco to Houston.

but I was hoping for a better word than that, because that verb generally connotes something other than travel:

railroad (verb) press (someone) into doing something by rushing or coercing

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A single word won't do the trick. –  ermanen Aug 8 at 1:15
2  
Sounds like she was railed. –  George Pompidou Aug 8 at 1:20
3  
When I send something large by train, I ship it. Figure that one out and get back to us... –  Canis Lupus Aug 8 at 1:25
    
Bused, not bussed! –  ErikE Aug 8 at 3:13
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@ErikE - dictionaries seem to indicate either is acceptable: verb Word forms: buses, busing, bused, busses, bussing, bussed, although writers seem to prefer your suggested choice. –  J.R. Aug 8 at 8:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

While not common or current, train is a verb

[NO OBJECT] DATED Go by train: Charles trained to Chicago with Emily [Oxford Dictionary Online]

American Heritage lists it without the DATED catergorization

To travel by railroad train

You might say, Are you going to fly or train it?

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No question. In fact, I'm more comfortable with co-opting "train" like this than I am with "bus" (which to me always carries negative connotations of [bussing schoolchildren). At the margins, I suppose you could "tram it" to get across town (in the right town), rather than take a cab. –  FumbleFingers Aug 8 at 1:13
    
@FumbleFingers "bussing" is kissing! –  ErikE Aug 8 at 3:14
    
@FumbleFingers -- The problem with using train in this way is that it is now archaic, and is almost guaranteed to provoke your interlocutor to check what exactly you mean. –  Erik Kowal Aug 8 at 4:29
    
@Erik: I don't know why you'd call it "archaic". Samuel R Delany is perfectly current and competent, and around 1984 he wrote I didn't see her again till I trained across country from San Francisco one November. It's not a very common usage, but it's quite okay. –  FumbleFingers Aug 8 at 11:45
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As someone who works in and lives near a large city that a large number of people commute to every day, and a lot of people regularly use public transport (London), I've heard "trained" a lot, and wouldn't bat an eye-lid at a phrase like "It was pouring with rain, so John trained it to the football match." –  GAThrawn Aug 8 at 13:35

There's currently no analogous equivalent to bus(s)ed, flew or flown in everyday use that relates to train travel. The best alternatives I can think of that might normally be employed are travel(l)ed, took, transported, and conveyed. Compare:

1) "She was bussed from San Francisco to Houston"

2) "She flew from San Francisco to Houston"

3) "She was flown from San Francisco to Houston"

4) "She travelled by train from London to Edinburgh"

5) "She took the train from London to Edinburgh"

6) "She was transported by train from London to Edinburgh"

7) "She was conveyed by train from London to Edinburgh"

Of those four alternatives, 4) and 5) are the most idiomatic in British and American English, 6) the least.

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6 might be the best if ‘she’ is Dolly the cloned sheep being transported to Edinburgh for some testing purpose or other. Also, “She went from London to Edinburgh by train” is tied with 4 for most natural to my ear, more likely than 5. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 8 at 7:41

Since AmTrak is the only cross-country passenger rail system in the United States, you could say "She AmTraked from San Francisco to Houston" (assuming that AmTrak serves Houston these days—it didn't when I was a college student looking for alternatives to Greyhound).

You probably don't want trained (which, of course, primarily means "got into athletic or working condition by practicing") or railroaded (which idiomatically can mean "convicted on trumped-up charges"), though either option is available if you don't mind eliciting smiles or quizzical looks before you explain "I mean, she took the train from San Francisco to Houston."

Incidentally, when I was in school and had to use Greyhound buses to get to Houston from Maryland, a common description for that mode of travel was "hopping the dog."


UPDATE: My original answer was intentionally United States–specific because the OP's question asked in particular about how to refer in one word to a train trip from San Francisco to Houston. I believe that the verb Amtraked would be immediately recognizable to most U.S. hearers, but it isn't in common usage, and it certainly isn't comprehensible (or apt) outside the United States.

A much more popular way (in the United States) to describe having traveled by train is "rode the rails." For example, from Edward Hungerford, "America Goes Back to Work," in Harper's Magazine (October 1920):

As far as Garrison we rode the rails of the original main line of the Northern Pacific, and when we passed the marker for the "last spike" I was reminded of the time, away back in the eighties, that the far-seeing Henry Villard had brought the investors of the enterprise out over the ungraded track five days from St. Paul to witness the event, and how they, alarmed by the vast expanse of undeveloped territory, had telegraphed and cabled to sell their holdings, thrusting the road into a financial crisis.

From F.P. Rolf, W.H. Davenport, and P. Bowerman, The Modern Omnibus, (1946) [snippet]:

W. H. Davies, the most "bird-like" of living lyricists, was a cattleman, a berry-picker, a day-laborer, a "super-tramp," until his foot was cut off when he rode the rails in Canada.

From Charles Musser, Before the Nickolodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company (1991):

To counter its image as a coal carrier, the Lackawanna Railroad, known as "The Road of Anthracite," developed an advertising campaign in which passenger Phoebe Snow, dressed in white, rode the rails and praised the line's cleanliness in such slogans as: "Says Phoebe Snow, about to go/Upon a trip to Buffalo:/'My gown stays white from morn till night/Upon the Road of Anthracite.'"

And from Wendy Z. Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917–1936 (1993):

Dreaming of trains and travel, Vasily ran away from home repeatedly only to return, gloomy, silent, refusing to explain where he had been. Like Grisha and Aleksei, he rode the rails to various towns and cities, begging and stealing to survive. He was unhappy both at home and in the children's colony.

A Google Book search for "rode the rails" also turns up such titles as When Beauty Rode the Rails: An Album of Railroad Yesterdays (1962), When Fresno Rode the Rails (1979), When We Rode the Rails (1983), When Eastern Michigan Rode the Rails (1984), and Victory Rode the Rails: The Strategic Place of the Railroads in the Civil War (1992). Part of the appeal of the phrase "rode the rails," I suspect, is that it sounds like a gentle play on the word railroad.

It's worth noting that "riding the rails" is especially associated with hobos who traveled (illegally and for free) by boarding freight trains as they pulled out of train yards after loading or unloading their cars of freight; this act is also known as "hopping a freight." I don't know whether the phrase "riding the rails" is common outside North America.

As for single-word terms for traveling by train, I agree with Erik Kowal that there aren't any truly satisfactory ones in common usage.

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But.. what if you're in China? Or India? –  slebetman Aug 8 at 2:14
    
@slebetman (and the four upvoters of slebetman's comment): See the update to my original answer (above). –  Sven Yargs Aug 8 at 17:21

Entrain, with senses “(poetic, intransitive) To get into or board a railway train” and “(transitive) To put aboard a railway train” seems a slight possibility. For example:

She entrained at San Francisco for Houston.
She entrained herself at San Francisco for Houston.

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A slight possibility of ... a grammatical construction? Did she sleep furiously on the train? 38 Google hits for "She entrained at" – and I'm guessing they're mostly historical sources. –  Edwin Ashworth Aug 8 at 10:36

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