Is there a dedicated word or expression for a segment of track between two train stops? Can "train station" also refer to the track between two stations?

The context is an article about computer simulations of railway vehicles in which I would like to avoid sentences such as:

Each track section between two consecutive train stops was considered separately...

and replace them by something like:

Each train station was considered separately....

  • 10
    The station refers to the station. The tracks refers to the tracks. – Robusto Jun 1 '15 at 13:02
  • Got it. But imagine a route comprising 5 stations. What would you call the 4 intervals between these stations? – FliegenderZirkus Jun 1 '15 at 13:06
  • 4
    I would call those "the tracks" or "the line." – Robusto Jun 1 '15 at 13:07
  • If you need non-tehcnical synonyms you could in some context use trips or journeys:i.e to link 5 trains stations you need 4 "journeys" or 4 "trips" – P. O. Jun 1 '15 at 14:42
  • What do you mean by a stop? – starsplusplus Jun 1 '15 at 20:52

There are a number of terms used within the railway industry to define sections of track infrastructure where conventional signalling is used.

Technically, a Track Section (sometimes Track Circuit) is the piece of track between two signals, not between two stations.
A Berth is a location within which a single train may be located. This is usually a group of track sections.

The section of track between two stations is known as a Path. This will encompass a number of Berths and will also define the running line (e.g. fast or slow) as appropriate.

Train timetablers (British English) or schedulers (American English) will create the train's timetable/schedule by defining its paths.

In the example you give, a path would be the term most understood in the industry.

One of the best sources of explanation for railway technical jargon is here.


Although I don't think this is a word used in the railroad industry, I'd be tempted to call uninterrupted track between two stations a segment.

  • 1
    Using a suitable word which isn't in the fields jargon may be perfect as it can be defined to mean something not quite covered by the standard terms -- if, for example a near-synonym to "path" from Chenmunka's accepted answer is needed, especially as the Q refers to "stops" rather than stations. – Chris H Jun 1 '15 at 15:01
  • Note: this answer made much more sense before someone inexplicably edited the word "segment" into the question title. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Feb 2 '16 at 13:31

No. The "station" is the passenger platform, or a building that houses or is adjacent to one or more of those platforms. The track that runs between stations is a section or length of track. The entire length of track between two endpoints is often called a "line".

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    Strictly speaking, station, ultimitely linked to Lation stare, to stand_, would just be the place where the train stops. Whether there are platforms, buildings, etc, or not. – oerkelens Jun 1 '15 at 14:27
  • Especially in countries where train doors are close to ground level (which applies for example to at least some lines in US, Italy). Here in the UK it's a bit implausible that a station could fail to have a platform, stepladders having failed health&safety requirements. Unless you're being really etymology-pedantic and saying that literally anywhere a train stops is a station, e.g. at a signal in the middle of nowhere, at which passengers aren't allowed on or off ;-) – Steve Jessop Jun 1 '15 at 17:06
  • @oerkelens: Is it the place where the train stops or where the passengers station themselves waiting for the train to stop? In the US, if there's no building, we might say "There's no station at that stop, just a platform". – TRomano Jun 1 '15 at 18:08
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    @oerkelens No, a station is a station. It doesn't matter what the Latin root of the word meant two thousand years ago before trains even existed. – David Richerby Jun 1 '15 at 20:54

I would call it a stretch. The Free Dictionary gives this definition:

n. 3. A continuous or unbroken length, area, or expanse: an empty stretch of highway.


As this is a computer simulation then you could employ graph theory naming: each station would then be a node and each section of track joining them an edge. Less obvious to a layperson, but it might make more sense in context than ‘track’, given that tracks run through stations too.

  • 1
    I don't think so. If you're going to model a railway you'd need to insert a node at each junction too,creating edges that don't run from station to station. – Dr. belisarius Jun 2 '15 at 5:31
  • Ah, of course, good point. – Robin Whittleton Jun 2 '15 at 9:09

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