Tony Thompson wrote: " Read
the professional literature on track more closely and you will find that
"turnout" refers to the movable part of the device, and that "switch" refers
to the entire trackwork. "
Uh, no. That's backwards. Admittedly, the AREMA
definition of "Switch - a track structure used to divert rolling stock from
one track to another." could be a bit ambiguous, but "Turnout - an arrangement
of a switch and a frog with closure rails, by means of which rolling
stock may be diverted from one track to another." should be
Formal engineering usage is consistent that the
switch is the portion with points and stock rails, including the associated
rods, plates, braces, heel blocks and fasteners. In informal usage,
switch can be a synonym for turnout. (An example of synecdoche?)
One major exception is that the ties for a turnout
are called switch ties.
I have over 30 years professional and managerial
experience in the Engineering Dept. of major railroads.