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All the trains are on the same line.

All the trains are on the single line.

I have a strong feeling that only the first sentence is correct, whereas the second one is very odd.

But why is that? Isn't that same and single are technically the same in such a context?

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  • You might want to consider the word track, rather than line. Trains run on tracks, not lines. Railway lines, however, do exist. All the trains run on the same track.
    – Lambie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 17:04
  • @Lambie - in the UK trains can be said to run on lines. Trains from London Paddington to Swindon, Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Cardiff, Gloucester (among other places) all run on (or along) the same line between London and Didcot, which is so busy it needs four tracks. And from next month, Elizabeth Line/Crossrail 'super-metro' trains running under London. Sep 4, 2022 at 20:09
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    The London and South Western route between London Waterloo and Clapham Junction is made up of two lines, Windsor and Main, and each comprises two slow and two fast tracks, making eight tracks altogether. Sep 4, 2022 at 20:40
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes, a train can run on a line, which is not the same as a track. It's the tracks that make the line, as it were. We say line in the AmE as well for this. The Boston-NY line. The Philadelphia main line. Originally, a rail(way) line.
    – Lambie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 21:52

1 Answer 1

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Both statements make sense. A single line has only one pair of rails. A dual line has two pairs of rails, so two trains can pass each other, traveling in opposite directions, on the same line. Unless there are passing loops, two trains on a single line would be traveling in the same direction, kept a safe distance apart by the signalling system.

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  • I think we'd say: a single track.
    – Lambie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 17:03
  • As I said above the GWR Main Line out of Paddington is four-track all the way to Didcot. Sep 4, 2022 at 20:13

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