I have come across the article Learning from Las Vegas: what the Strip can teach us about urban planning and saw this sentence, "the Las Vegas monorail that entered operation in 2004 has had to defer the dream of connecting the airport, the Strip and downtown."

Entered operation is very new to me. I have asked many native speakers, almost all of whom said it is unnatural or unusual, if not totally wrong (some did say it is wrong though). But I have found many references online, many of which were written by native speakers. So the following are my guesses, correct me if I am wrong.

  1. Enter operation is unusual, even considered wrong by many. It might be an old fashioned usage.
  2. People who use it might think of go into operation, because go into operation is common, and enter sometimes means going into, that's why they end up with "enter operation".
  3. or it might be because people who use it think of "enter service", which is also common.
  4. but feel free to say if you think it is perfect English. :)

I have edited and expanded this question. Do you think it is right to say "The China-Laos railway recently entered operation/service"? A friend of mine said usually a new train enters service, but a railway line or the entire thing does not. Of course, the part of "enter operation" is just similar to my original question. Thank you

  • I prefer 'became operational'. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


This seems fine to me. It corresponds closely to this definition from Merriam-Webster

to make a beginning in
enter politics

My Apple dictionary has an even closer definition, I don't know an online link.

start or reach (a stage or period of time) in an activity or situation:
the election campaign entered its final phase.

  • Yep, we can enter society, enter the workforce, etc. but somehow I think operation is kinda different, that's why many people find it weird. but thank you!
    – Xiao Cai
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:26
  • service and production are semantically very similar to operation as "states that can be entered" by starting. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:30
  • @XiaoCai That's why I think the second definition I quoted is a better fit for this. "final phase" is similar to "operation"
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:30
  • 1
    Less operation as "states that can be entered" than started operating. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:48
  • Thank you@FumbleFingers sorry I am new so I am pretty bad at notifying people using @, and I can notify only one a time
    – Xiao Cai
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 2:00

Personally I find nothing unusual about "enters operation" but I wouldn't use in when speaking casually, which is why some people might think it is incorrect without proper context.

The word "operate" appears a lot in the train industry (train operating company, train operator, trains that operate on the X line), so perhaps "enters operation" is often used in the industry. However, I find it very usual to say a railway track itself "enters operation" as it is the trains that operate along the track/line.

A quoted google search for "entered commercial operation" also has over 30,000 results, mainly referring to when energy plants start producing energy for commercial use.

  • While there's a well-known division between track and train in conventional rail, "monorail" can refer to the system, the track, or the train, so it seems reasonable to talk about it entering operation. I agree it's fine.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 11:25

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