ride the rails

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ride the rails

  1. (idiomatic) To travel by railway train, trolley, etc.
    • 1935, "Gas Man's Trial," Time, 13 May:
      He had bummed his way around the West riding the rails.
    • 1956, Phyllis Battelle, "Poor Commuter's Life Not So Dreadful After All," St. Petersburg Times, 19 Dec. (retrieved 11 May 2009):
      Many of New York's most celebrated personalities hitch-hiked here, or rode the rails from wherever it was that they spent their youth dreaming ambitiously.
    • 2004, Susan Stellin, "J.F.K. by AirTrain: Bag the Bus," New York Times, 4 Apr. (retrieved 11 May 2009):
      There are a number of variables in the trip from Manhattan that you should weigh when deciding whether to ride the rails ($7 to $12), hop a bus ($13) or spring for a taxi (roughly $45, with toll and tip).

Usage notes[edit]

  • Sometimes used to denote travelling illegally by hiding on railway freight cars, especially as a hobo during the Great Depression.