AAR Car Classification

Major Classes

Freight Cars
Class Name Description Typical Commodities
F Flat Open car with: solid floor;  no sides, ends, nor roof Varied
G Gondola Open car with: solid floor, sides, and ends; no roof Varied
H Hopper Open car with: doors in floor; solid sides and ends; no roof Coal, ore, aggregates
LO Covered Hopper Closed car with: doors in floor; solid sides and ends; roof with hatches Grain, minerals
N Caboose Office and living car for train crews  
R Refrigerator Closed car with: solid floor, ends, sides, and roof; fully insulated and provided with means of cooling  Meats, produce
S Stock Closed car with solid floor, ends, and roof; slatted sides Cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, poultry
T Tank Closed car with cylindrical body Liquids and gasses
V Ventilator Closed car with: solid floor, ends, sides, and roof; provided with openings for ventilation Produce
X Box Closed car with: solid floor, ends, sides, and roof Varied
Passenger Cars
Class Name Function
B Baggage Baggage and express cars of various types
C Combine Two or more functions in one car
D Diner Kitchens, dinners, cafes, buffets, etc.
E Self-propelled Streetcars, RDCs, doodlebugs, rail-motor cars, etc. 
M Mail RPOs and mail storage cars
P Passenger Coaches, sleepers, taverns, observations, etc.

Many variations exist as subclasses. These are designated by adding additional letters to the major class. For, example FM is an ordinary flat car and FD is a depressed center flat car. Class LO, see above, it is actually a subclass of class L (special car) but is, by far, the most ubiquitous car of that class so I listed it here. For more detailed listings see the extensive compilations by Ian Cranstone (Freight Cars) and Jim Dufour (Passenger Cars). Prokopis Christou has great information on the classification modern tank cars.

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Last updated: 11/27/10