Re: Trust Plates

Frank Greene

proto48er wrote:
Denny -

Trust plates are to rolling stock as automobile titles are to cars. They are evidence of the identity of lienholders for railroad rolling stock. Incredibly, there is no central clearing house for titles to railroad equipment (and never has been) like there is for real property, autos and aircraft. If a freight car does not have a plate or painted statement of lienholder identity, it is presumed owned "free and clear" by the railroad whose reporting marks are on the car.

You mean the bank and RR lawyers didn't have reams of paper identifying what equipment was owned by whom? I believe the trust plates stated that the trust, or conditional agreement, or whatever legalese was filed with the ICC. That's about as central as it gets. What happens if the trust plate falls off? It's absence can't be absolute evidence of clear title. It seems more a formality than practical.

Is a trust plate relevant to anyone switching, distributing, loading or unloading a car? I don't see how, but what do I know?

In STMFC times, the lienholder was usually identified by a cast or stamped metal plate affixed to the side or centersill of each side of the car. (Not sure about locomotives having plates on both sides - a local bank here affixed a single trust plate to the engineer's side of the cab of some M-K-T 4-4-0's they financed. When paid, the bank retrieved the trust plates from the locos!) The reason for the metal plates was that the lienholder could (usually!) be identified after a wreck and accounts settled for that piece of equipment.

It seems to me that if a car were wrecked beyond repair, you'd have to have an Authorization For Expense (AFE) to scrap it, which would signal someone in accounting or the company lawyers' offices to check out ownership/lease/trust, which would cause some communication with the bank if there were a trust.


Frank Greene
Memphis, TN

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