The misunderstood Train ID field

Actually, if it were understood better, we would realize that this little field is actually providing some pretty rich information. Most Car Location Message (CLM) formats contain a Train ID field. This field returns several very different types of information depending on the situation. Frustrating and difficult to implement in systems? Yes. Useful? Yes again. In this article, I am going to explain the things other than the ID number of a train that Train ID may display and in what situations this happens.


The Train ID field is 6 characters wide. Typically it displays a train identifier like this:


Railcar is Bad Ordered

In this situation, where the railcar is damaged and cannot continue its trip until fixed (i.e. the sighting code is B or F:  B = bad ordered railcar; F = bad ordered flatcar), the Train ID field displays something like this:

J 099

The first two characters are reserved for the code that describes the general type or general area of problem. The third character is always left blank (for now). The fourth, fifth and sixth characters display the number of hours expected before the railcar is fixed and released.


clip_image001Based on significant research* the number of hours to release is most often 099, which means that the railroads do not know. Also, I’ve noticed that few short line railroads and Mexican railroads provide the code and estimated hours to release.

Here is a list of the bad order codes:

Code Classification Description
A Body Including floors, roof, sides, ends and multi-level rack.
B Braking System Any brake component listed in Rule 83**, Car Part Codes, under the headings of Brake Equipment and/or Piping.
C Clean-Out Including preparation for loading such as clean-out, conditioning and/or pre-tripping, but excluding mechanical refrigeration equipment.
D Derailment/Accident Derailment/Accident Damage resulting from derailment, sideswipe, fire, flood or other casualty.
E Doors Doors Including side, end and hopper doors, outlet gates, hatch and dome covers.
F Draft System Draft System Including couplers, yokes, draft gears, draft lugs, draft sills, EOC
and COC cushioning units and articulated connections.
G Interior Linings & Coatings Interior Linings & Including any interior lining or coating.
H Load Load Requiring measurement, weighing, adjustment, transfer or containment of leaking commodity.
I Load Restraining Devices Load Restraining Devices Components integral to car such as tie down equipment, interior bulkheads, DF equipment, trailer hitches, container pedestals or other similar equipment.
J Mechanical Inspection Mechanical Inspection Including inspection resulting from Early Warning letters,
Maintenance Advisory notifications or special instructions received from car owners or handing line.
K Refrigeration Equipment Refrigeration Equipment Including inspection, pre-tripping and defective equipment listed in Rule 83, Car Part Codes, under the heading Mechanical
Refrigeration Equipment.
L Safety Appliances Safety Appliances Including handholds, sill steps, ladders, running boards, crossover boards, brake steps and uncoupling levers.
M Trucks Trucks Including side frames, truck bolsters, friction castings, springs,
snubbers and side bearings, but excludes wheel assemblies and brake rigging.
N Underframe Underframe Including center sills, side sills and body bolsters,crossbearers, crossties, body center plates and body side bearings.
O Wheel Assembly Wheel Assembly Including wheels axles, friction or roller bearings, wedges, adapters, periodic attention and hot boxes.


Railcar is Held or Delayed

When the railcar is held or delayed (i.e. sighting code is H), the Train ID field displays something like this:

NB 099

The first two characters are reserved for the code that describes the type of hold / delay. The third character is always left blank (for now). The fourth, fifth and sixth characters display the number of hours expected before the railcar is released from hold or delay.


Here is a list of the delay codes:

Code Description
CC Customs
CW Equipment In Wrecked Train
DI Disposition
EM Embargo
HI Heating and Icing
LI Inspection-Lading
MI Inspection-Mechanical
NB No Bill
OC Operating Conditions
OI Other
WG Weighing


Railcar is in the Shop for Repair or Maintenance (non – Bad Order)

In this situation, the first four characters display:


That’s it. The sighting event code is usually J – Interchange Delivery for when the railcar is delivered to the shop and R – Interchange Receipt when the railcar is received from the shop.

Hopefully this article has been helpful by showing you how the Train ID field has multiple functions. Perhaps you can now train your systems to watch out for these situations and glean the extra information provided to better manage your railcar shipments and fleets. If you have some personal experience that can be added, please comment!

All the best,



* Thanks to Charles Paye at Railinc who reviewed their CLM database that receives data from over 550 railroads in North America and stores history from January 2006 to present. Railcar Tracking Company is a reseller of this data. Railcar Tracking Company offers Railcar Management System (RMS) which is a cost effective railcar shipment tracking and fleet management system designed to help automate many of the daily tasks required to manage rail shipments and/or railcar fleets.

** Rule 83 is described in a chapter in the Field Manual of the AAR Interchange Rules, which may be ordered from

Bad order and hold/delay codes included by permission from AAR/Railinc.

Jim Dalrymple


Learning Center Categories

Frustrating and difficult to implement in systems? Yes. Useful? Yes again.

Railcar Fleet Management

Reduce Demurrage Bills


Expanded Reporting Features


  1. Clif on August 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

    A well written and very useful article – thanks very much for sharing your expertise!