Terms and Abreviations found within Railway Postmarks (listed by Country)

by Tony Goodbody

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There are many cryptic initials and abbreviations occurring on British Postmarks which have some kind of railway association. The inscriptions which can be found on some overseas marks are even more cryptic.

This Glossary is mostly (but not exclusively) concerned with the letters, abbreviations, numbers, lines and other symbols that you will find within the postmarks used on Travelling Post Offices (TPOs), at Railway Sub Offices (RSOs), and at Railway ‘Station’ offices. Other information is given where it is thought to be helpful. No attempt is made to indicate the route of a TPO – such information is covered by the many specialist works already available.

Our aim is to help the reader who comes across a stamp or a cover from a country (in which he or she is not an expert) to determine whether or not that stamp or cover has any railway significance. Of course, there will be omissions and mistakes, but considerable care has been taken to check the information given and to make it as comprehensive as possible.



The early railway postmarks of Argentina abound in initials. Only some of the most obvious can be quoted here. However they almost invariably incorporate one or other of the abbreviations listed below.
•  BRIGADA: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km)
•  BUENOS AIRES followed by a number (2, 4, 5, 8 or 37), and a repeated number, has the same definition as ‘Distrito’ below for local TPOs working out of Buenos Aires
•  CENTRAL A (Various destinations): TPO from Central Station Buenos Aires
•  DISTRITO: Local TPO working in one Province. Thus Distrito 21 with the number 27 repeated indicates TPO No.27 operating in Province 21.
•  ESTACIÓN: Railway Station
•  E. AMB. (ESTAFETA AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km.)
•  ESTAFETA FERROVIARIA: Travelling Post Office (route shorter than 250 km)
•  F.C.N. (FERROCARRIL DEL NORTE): Northern Railway
•  F.C.O. (FERROCARRIL DEL OESTE): Western Railway
•  F.C.S. (FERROCARRIL DEL SUD): Southern Railway
•  OFICINA POSTAL AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km)
•  RELEVANTE: (This is difficult. The word could mean replacement, relief or substitute)
•  SUCURSAL: Branch (Office) (Usually with indication of Railway or route). Sucursal Nos. 2,4, 5, 8, & 37 were TPOs.
•  TREN ATRASADO: Train Late
•  ULTIMA HORA: Last Hour
•  VAGON POSTAL: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km)
•  VENTANILLA V.POSTAL: Window of the TPO, probably similar to the definition of ‘window’ under India.


•  DOWN TRAIN (Victoria): Train travelling away from Melbourne
•  E.M.T.P.O.: English Mail T.P.O
•  G.N.R.P./N.S.W.: Great Northern Railway Post Office/ New South Wales
•  LATE FEE: As for Great Britain
•  M.G.: Mail Guard
•  PAY TRAIN: A train with a travelling bank and other services to serve remote districts (otherwise known as the ‘Tea & Sugar Train.’)
•  RAIL or RAILWAY (or abbreviation): Sometimes a railway station post office, e.g. ADELAIDE RAILWAY/S.A., otherwise a travelling post office, e.g. TEROWIE RAILWAY/ STH AUST.
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
•  UP TRAIN (Victoria): Train travelling towards Melbourne


•  Bp (Bahnpost): Railway Post (i.e. travelling post office)
•  F.P.A. (Fahrendespostamt): Travelling Post Office
•  Gesamtpostvermittlung: Mail Guard (Literally complete postal agency)
•  Gpk (Gesamtpostkurs): Mail Guard (literally: complete postal journey). There follows here a more complete summary of GESAMTPOSTKURS supplied by a German philatelist:
– Second Class Austrian TPO
– No letter sorting
– Closed pouch service
– Transportation of bags and parcels
– No registered items accepted (with the implication that ordinary mail is accepted)
– Staffed by one clerk only
– GPKs travel on minor routes or as a transit service on international routes such as West Germany to Italy or Yugoslavia, etc
•  K.K.B.P. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH BAHNPOST): Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office
•  K.K. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH) FAHRENDES POSTAMT: Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office
•  K.K. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH) POST AMBULANCE: Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office
•  POSTAMTDIENER IM ZUGE: Mail Guard (Literally Post Office Servant in the train)
•  POSTCONDUCTEUR IM ZUGE: Mail Guard [Literally Conductor Post (or Courrier Post) in the train] •  SCHAFFNERBAHNPOST: Mail Guard
•  UFFICIO AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office



•  Begeleider: Mail Guard
•  Bureau Ambulant: Travelling Post Office
•  Convoyeur: Mail Guard
•  Gare: Railway Station
•  Schbp. (During World War I): Schaffnerbahnpost (2nd class TPO)
•  Station: Railway Station
•  Treinpostkantoor: Travelling Post Office


Brazil is a vast country, which had a comprehensive network of TPOs. Nevertheless few of the postmarks are seen today and little is known about them.
•  C.A. (CORREIO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
•  CONDUCTOR (or CONDUTOR): Mail Guard
•  E.F. (ESTRADA DE FERRO): Railway
•  ESTAFETA: Mail Guard
•  IDA: Down (odd numbered trains)
•  LINHA: Line
•  NOCTURNO (or NOTURNO): Night Train
•  RAPIDO: Express Train
•  SECCÃO: Section (of Post Office: 4th and 7th sections control TPOs)
•  T. (TREM): Train
•  TURMA: Crew
•  VOLTA: Up (even numbered trains)


•  AMB (Ambulant): Travelling Post Office (in French)
•  Gare: Railway Station
•  ГAPA (GARA): Railway Station
•  И ОБР. (I OBR. = I OBRANTO): & Vice Versa
•  TPAMBAЯ П.O. COΦИЯ: Tramway Post Office, Sofia
•  CTAHЦІА (STANTSIA): Railway Station



•  C.N.R: Canadian National Railway (or Canadian Northern Railway)
•  C.P.R.: Canadian Pacific Railway
•  Depot: Railway Station
•  G.T.R.: Grand Trunk Railway
•  M.C.: Mail Car
•  N. (or S, E, W) Direction of travel
•  R.P.O. (or Ry.P.O.): Railway Post Office
•  Station (or abbreviation): Sometimes a railway station
•  Terminal: Railway Station
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office (by water unless specifically indicated by rail)

Canal Zone

•  R.M.S.: Railway Mail Service
•  R.P.O.: Railway Post Office (i.e. Travelling Post Office)


•  K.L. Kandy Line
•  S.L. Seaside Line


•  AMB. (AMBULANCIA): Travelling Post Office
•  DIRECTO: Non stop train (?)
•  ENTRE: Between
•  RAPIDO: Fast train
•  T.E. (TREN EXPRESO): Moderately fast train
•  T.N. (TREN NOCTURNO): Very slow night train
•  T.O. (TREN ORDINARIO): Slow train


•  BUREAU AMBULANT: Travelling Post Office
•  HUO CH’E (火车) (Fire Carriage): Train (i.e. TPO)
•  HUO CHE ZHAN (火车站): Railway Station
•  I.P.O.-R.M.S.: Imperial Post Office-Railway Mail Sorter (or Service?)
•  MAIL CAR: Travelling Post Office
•  S.N.R.: Shanghai-Nanking Railway
•  T.P.R.: Tientsin-Pukou Railroad
•  TRAIN OFFICE: Travelling Post Office


R.P.O.: Railway Post Office (situated at a railway station; not a travelling office)


The following are translations of some of the chapter headings in ‘Monografie Československých Známek,’ the 16 (or more) volume work on Czech postal history.
•  Razítka vlakových pošt: Postmarks of travelling post offices. (Vol. 14, p. 391)
•  Razítka vlakových poštovních úřadů: Postmarks of first class travelling post offices.
(Vol. 14, p. 393)
•  Razítka vlakových poštnovních průvodčích – konduktérů – vlakových poštnovich doprovodů a vlakových pošt nižšího řádu: Postmarks of mailguards, accompanied mail and travelling post offices of lower order. (Vol. 14, p. 427)
•  Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro úřednické vlakové pošty v českých zemích: Catalogue of first class TPO postmarks of Austrian origin used in Czechoslovakia.
(Vol. 16, p. 317)
•  Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro vlakové pošty nižšího řádu v český’ch zemích: Catalogue of second class TPO postmarks of Austrian origin used In Czechoslovakia. (Vol. 16, p. 331)
•  Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro vlakové Poštovní průvodčí v českých zemích: Catalogue of postmarks of Austrian origin used by railway mail guards in Czechoslovakia. (Vol. 16, p. 357)
•  Katalog popřevratových razítek uherského původu pro vlakové Pošty na Slovensku a bývalé Podkarpatské Rusi: Catalogue of TPO postmarks of Hungarian origin used in Slovakia and former Ruthenia (‘Sub ¬Carpathian Russia’). (Vol. 16, p. 367)
•  Nádraží: Railway Station
•  OZ PŘEPRAVE/ AMBUL. POŠTY (Odštĕpného závodu přeprava ambulantních pošty): Mailguard (Literally: branch post office transport of ambulatory mail)
•  Průvodčí: Conductor
•  úpz (úhrnné přepravy poštovních závěrů): Mailguard (Literally: summary transport of postbags)
•  úpž (úhrnné přeprava železniční): Mailguard (Literally: summary transport by railway)
•  Vlaková Pošta: Travelling Post Office



•  B. (Banegaard(en) or Baneg.: Railway Station
•  Bagagebevis: Luggage Certificate
•  Båndmærker: Stamps for wrappers
•  Banepakke: Railway Parcel
•  Ebn. Post Bur. (Eisenbahn Post Bureau): Travelling Post Office (German language used in Schleswig-Holstein)
•  Efterkravprovisionsmærker: Provisional stamps for collection of cash on delivery
•  Fra Sverige: From Sweden (used by Danish TPOs, which cross Swedish border)
•  Fra Tyskland: From Germany (used by Danish TPOs, which cross German border)
•  Frankeringsmærker: Fiscal Stamp (Nevertheless the stamps appear to have been used to pay carriage)
•  Gebyrmærke: Late Fee Stamp
•  Godsfrimærke: Freight Stamp
•  Indleveringsgebyr: Late Fee
•  J.B. (Jernbane): Railway
•  J.B.P.E. (Jernbane Post Ekspedition): Railway Postal Dispatch (i.e. static railway post office)
•  JB.PB (Jernbane Postbureau): Travelling Post Office
•  JB.PK. (or JB.PKT.) (Jernbane Postkontor): Travelling Post Office
•  JB.P.SP.B. (Jernbane Post Speditions Bureau): Travelling Post Office
•  Jernbane Postkontor (modern): Railway Post Office (Reserve TPO postmark)
•  Jernbanestation: Railway Station
•  N.SJ.JB.P.B. (Nord Sjællandske Jernbane Post Bureau): North Zeeland Railway TPO, and P.B. (Post Bureau): Travelling Post Office
•  Post Sped(itions) Bureau (or P.SP.BUR.): Travelling Post Office
•  Posttog: Mail Train
•  Rutebilbrev: Bus letter
•  SJ.JB.P.SP.B. (Sjællandske Jernbane Post Speditions Bureau): Zeeland Railway TPO
•  Tog: Train



•  AMB. (AMBULANT): Travelling Post Office
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
•  V.V. Vice Versa

El Salvador

There are two references (notes only) in the TPO & Sea Post Society Journal Index, one of which is incorrect.    For ‘Vol. 29, p. 23’ read ‘Vol. 39, p. 23.’


•  P.V. (Postvagun): Travelling Post Office
•  P.W. (Postwagun): Travelling Post office
•  VAKSAL: Railway Station



It should be remembered that Finnish marks were originally bi-lingual in Swedish and Russian. Later some marks were tri-lingual in Finnish, Swedish and Russian, and later still (after 1917) the norm was for bi-lingual marks in Finnish and Swedish. Nowadays they are in Finnish only.
•  a (aamu): Morning
•  As (Asema): Railway Station
•  e (efterdäg): Afternoon or Evening (Swedish)
•  f (foredäg): Morning (Swedish)
•  FINSKA JERNVAGENS POSTKUPÉEXPEDITION: Finnish Railway Travelling Post Office (Railway postal forwarding mail van)
•  FINSKA POST KUPEN: Finnish Travelling Post Office (Finnish mail van).
•  i (ilta): Evening
•  ILMOITUSKORTTI: Notification Card (i.e. of goods for collection having arrived at a station.)
•  J (Juna): Train
•  K.P.X.P. (KUPÉPOSTEXPEDITION): Travelling Post Office
•  NOTIFIKATIONSKORT: Notification Card
•  pj (paivajuna): Day Train
•  P.V. (POSTVAGN or P.vagn): Travelling Post Office (Swedish)
•  P.V. (Postivaunu or P.vaunu): Travelling Post Office (Finnish)
•  Polistiljooni: Postman
•  Postilj.k (Postiljonskupéer): Mail Guard (Swedish)
•  Postilj.v (Postiljoonivaunu): Mail Guard (Finnish)
•  Rautatienasema: Railway Station
•  Vaunu: Railway van
•  YÖJ (Yöjuna): Night Train
•  B.OTД. (BAГОНЪ OTДЕЛНІЕ): Mail Guard (but see remarks under ‘Russia.’)
•  o :Day Train
•  • : Night Train


N.B. The postmarks of the station offices attached to the Paris main line termini can be found with a great variety of qualifying words (Banlieue, Province, Etranger, etc.) They are all fairly scarce on mail. It would be tedious to list them all and the reader is referred to a dictionary.
•  *Ambulants primos (shown as  1er  in circular TPO postmarks): Day-time TPO which aimed to deliver mails in time for second delivery made in the afternoon
•  *Ambulants secundos (shown as  2o  in circular TPO postmarks): Night-time TPO which aimed to deliver mails in time for first delivery made in the morning, the most numerous type of French TPO
•  *Ambulants tertios (shown as  3 in circular TPO postmarks): Additional services provided to supplement secondos
•  Ambulant Solo: Individual TPO service conveyed on passenger or freight train
•  AUTOMOTRICE: railcar (i.e. self propelling  railway vehicle)
•  Brigade: Crews working the TPO service on successive nights, similar to the British ‘side,’ designated by letters A,B,C,D, shown in Night services (ambulants secundos) and E,F,G,H shown in day services (ambulants primos).
•  B.M. (Bôite Mobile): Moveable Box (not necessarily on a train)
•  BUREAU AMBULANT: Travelling Post Office
•  BUREAU DE PASSE: A forwarding or transfer office (see the U.S. transfer office) which would forward mail from static offices or from TPOs. Generally situated at railway stations
•  CACHET DE GARE: Postmark used at railway station office (of which there are a great variety of types: Bureaux Annexes des Gares, Bureaux de Quartiers, etc., etc.)
•  CACHET DE SERVICE: Undated straight-line mark of station or TPO, for use on official documents. Said to be scarce when used to cancel stamps on mail (except for modern covers)
•  COURRIERS-CONVOYEURS-LIGNES: Mail Guards whose postmarks indicated the route but not the station of posting. The postmarks had a ‘scalloped’ profile until replaced by circular marks with the initials SC or SCE (q.v.)
•  COURRIERS-CONVOYEURS-STATIONS: Mail Guards whose postmarks indicated the route in abbreviated form, the station of posting and the number of the département. The postmarks had a scalloped profile.
•  ENTREPÔT: Literally a warehouse but included in lists of railway station marks
•  LETTRE DE BRIGADE: A letter found within the datestamp (or on official forms, struck separately) indicating the crew
•  RAME: Train
•  R.A.P. (Rame Automotrice Postale): train of one or more railcars
•  S.C. (Service de Convoiement): Initials found in circular postmarks to indicate a mailguard service
•  S.C.E. (Service de Convoiement et d’ensachage): Initials found in circular postmarks to indicate a mailguard and bagging service
•  STATION (as in ‘Courriers-Convoyeurs-Stations’): Halt (in the sense “The train arrived at the Station and came to a halt”)
•  TRANSBORDEMENT: Transfer between trains
•  TPA (Train-poste autonome): From 1976 onwards several individual TPO services were combined into one train for most of the journey, although worked by separate crews each using their own distinctive postmark. Each train conveyed only TPO vehicles as in the case of the British ‘specials.’ I think this can only have been true latterly. Further information is sought.



•  BAHNHOF: Railway Station
•  BAHNHOFSBRIEF: Station Letter (To be collected at a railway station. Similar to a U.K. railway letter but handled by the Post Office.)
•  BAHNHOFSZEITUNG: As for Bahnhofsbrief but a newspaper or bundle of newspapers
•  B.P.A. (plus number): See BAHNPOSTAMT, but note that B.P.A. without a number could be Brief Postamt (Letter Post Office)
•  BAHNPOST: Railway Post, i.e. TPO or Mail Guard
•  BAHNPOST (plus number): An abbreviation for Bahnpostamt (q.v.)
•  BAHNPOSTAMT (plus number): Railway Post Office (A static office of the TPO service)
•  C (Coupé): It has been stated that this stands for compartment (of a railway carriage) (Found on Bavarian bahnpost marks followed by a number. Hence R-B-C2 = Rosenheim-Berchtesgaden, Coupé No.2). It is perhaps more likely that it stands for ‘Curs’ (see next).
•  CURS: Route, trip or journey
•  EISENBAHNFAHRT: Railway Journey. It is conjectured that this was applied to mail posted into a special box, which was cleared onto a TPO
•  EISENBAHN POST AMT: Railway Post Office (static office: changed to Bahnpostamt in 1875)
•  EISENBAHN POST BUREAU: Travelling Post Office (changed to Bahnpost in 1875)
•  K.B. (Königlich Bäyerische): Royal Bavarian
•  KURS: Route, trip or journey
•  Nachträglich Entwertet: (Supplementary Cancel, i.e. applied subsequently and used, for example, to cancel non-German stamps on international German TPOs on entering Germany, or simply on mail which is found not have been postmarked at the point of departure)
•  ORTSBRIEFE: As for Ortsbund (q.v.)
•  ORTSBUND: Facing slip for mail to one place, literally ‘Place Bundle.’
•  POST SPEDITIONS AMT: Postal Dispatch Office (static office: changed to Eisenbahn Post amt in 1856)
•  POST SPEDITIONS BUREAU: Travelling Post Office (changed to Eisenbahn Post Bureau in 1856)
•  R (above date in circular TPO datestamp): Retour (Return journey)
•  SCHAFFNERBAHNPOST: Second Class TPO or Mail guard
•  STRECKENBRIEFE: As for Ortsbriefe (q.v.)
•  T (above date in circular TPO datestamp): Tour (Outward journey)
•  UMSCHLAGSTELLE: Letter Department
•  Z (or Zug): Train

Great Britain and Ireland

•  AM (Above the date of a TPO postmark): After Midnight (no full stops) on first day covers. British TPOs which started their run before midnight on any particular day used a handstamp with that day’s date on it. If the TPO run was continued after midnight, the same date stamp (viz. with the starting day’s date) was used for the full run. Thus, mail picked up further down the line after midnight was stamped with the previous day’s date. This enabled enthusiastic collectors to buy postage stamps at one of the ‘all day’ (24 hour) post offices in London just after midnight on their day of issue (i.e. very early in the day of issue), put them on first day covers, then drive to ‘down the line’ stations and post them in the small hours of the morning; the postage stamp on the first day day cover would then acquire a date stamp of the day before the official issue date for that stamp. In 1953 the Post Office (spoil sports that they were!) decided to close this loophole by issuing TPOs with an extra AM (After Midnight) handstamp to be used on first day covers! Such handstamps were identical to the normal handstamps, except that the letters AM were placed just above the date.
•  B.T. (Bag Tender): a railway mail van devoted to the carriage of sealed bags of mail. (They are equipped with date stamps which are not normally used on ordinary mail.)
•  C.R. Caledonian Railway
•  D. (on early TPO postmarks): Down (q.v.)
•  D. (above the date of a TPO postmark C 1970s): Datapost
•  D. (above the date of East Anglian TPO 3 July 1967): Believed to be ‘Demonstration’
•  D.P.: Datapost
•  Down: Travelling away from London or Dublin
•  D.S.C.: District Sorting Carriage
•  E. (on TPO postmark other than Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Edinburgh Section
•  E. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): English Mail (?)
•  E.H. (or EH): Edinburgh Section
•  G. (on TPO postmark): Glasgow Section
•  G.W. (or GW): as for ‘G,’ also Great Western (Railway) as (e.g.) in triangular Inspectors’ marks
•  L. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Limited Mail (q.v.)
•  Late Fee: Extra postage payable on mail posted directly into a travelling post office or into special posting boxes at railway stations, which were cleared into travelling post offices.
•  Limited Mail: Mail train with limited passenger accommodation
•  Perfin: Letters perforated in a stamp to discourage unauthorised usage. The letters are usually the initials of the Company using the stamp, e.g. ‘C.R.’ for Caledonian Railway.
•  R.S.C. (or RLY.S.C.): Railway Sorting Carriage
•  S.C.: Sorting Carriage
•  Side: When a travelling post office makes Up and Down journeys on alternate nights, two sets of vehicles are required. The two sets of vehicles are called ‘sides.’
•  Special: Train entirely devoted to the carriage and sorting of mail
•  ST.: Sorting Tender
•  R.P.O.: Railway Post Office
•  R.S.C.; Railway Sorting Carriage
•  R.S.O.: Railway Sub Office
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
•  U. (on TPO postmark): Up (q.v.)
•  Up: Travelling towards London or Dublin.


•  A (ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥΠΟΛΙΣ): Alexandroupolis
•  AMB. Mail Guard
•  Θ (ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗ): Thessaloniki
•  ΓPΑΦEIΟN: Office
•  K. (KINHTA or KINHTON): Travelling (Post Office)
•  Π (ΠΕΙΡΑΙΕΥΣ): Piraeus
•  ΣTAΘMPOY (Stathmou): Station
•  TAXYΔPOMIKON: Post Office
Translations follow for the text of certain postmarks:
•  TAX. ΓΡΑΦ. KOPINΘOY-AIΓΙΟΥ: Corinth Station Office, Corinth-Aegean Line
•  TAX. ΓΡΑΦ. KOPINΘOY-APΓΟΥΣ: Corinth Station Office, Argos Line
•  TAΧ. ΠΑΡΑΡΤ. ΣΙΔΗΡΟΔΡ. ΣΥΑΘΜΟΥ ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ: Piraeus Railway Station Branch Office



•  CS.SZM. (Csomagszállítómenet): Parcel carrying journey
•  Gy.S.E.V. (Györ-Sopron-Ebenfurth Vasút): Private railway across Austrian border
•  jm (jegyzékelömenetek): Conductor Post (i.e. mail guard)
•  km (közvetito menet): Intermediate Journey (i.e. a second class travelling post office)
•  Között: Between M: Menet Járat, i.e. Outward journey or Down
•  MÁV (MAGYAR ÁLLAMVASUTAK): Hungarian State Railways
•  M. KIR. (MAGYAR KIRALY) MOZGÓPOSTA (HIVATAL): Hungarian Royal Travelling Post Office
•  MOZGÓPOSTA: Travelling Post Office
•  POSTAKALAUZ: Post Conductor, i.e. mail guard.
•  Postaközeg: Postal Agent
•  Postamenet: Postal Journey
•  POSTE PRATNIK: Mail guard
•  P.U. ( or P.Udv) (Pályaudvar): Railway Station
•  P.Ü. (Postaügyn): Postal Agent (not necessarily railway)
•  T: Térti Járat, i.e. Return Journey or Up
•  SZ (SZAM): Number
•  VASP (Vasút Pályaudvar): Railway Station
•  VASÚTÁLLOMAS: Railway Station



•  BEAT: The portion of the railway over which the section (q.v.) works.
•  CIRCLE: The Indian Post Office was divided into circles: Bombay, NWP, Sind etc., thus a circle was a geographical division. However the RMS (q.v.) was, in 1881, itself constituted as a postal circle covering the whole of India. The geographical circles were subsequently known as divisions.
•  DIVISION: See circle above
•  F.M.S.: Foreign Mail Service, i.e. sections of the RMS dealing with the overland mails from (say) Calcutta to Bombay to connect with the mail steamers at Ballard Pier
•  FRONTIER: A frontier travelling post office (or section) was one, which crossed from one circle or division to another
•  F.S.O.: Frontier Sorting Office
•  LATE FEE: As for Great Britain
•  LOCAL: A local travelling post office (or section) was one, which remained within its own circle
•  M.A. (Mail Agent): the officer in charge of a mail office (q.v.). The word agent in India does not imply (as in other countries) that the agent was not an employee of the Post Office.
•  MAIL GUARD: A mail guard would collect and receive sealed bags of mail and deal with individual items which were handed to him, posted in the box attached to the train or situated at a railway station. He would not have conducted a full scale sorting operation. Mail guards were in operation as long ago as 1854 but the earliest recorded marks date from about 1871.
•  M.O. (Mail Office): A stationary office of the RMS (see below). There are two categories:
– Sorting mail offices (SMO) which carry out sorting (they are normally numbered 50-74)
– Transit mail offices (TMO) which deal with sealed bags only (normally numbered 75-99)
•  MAIL PEON: Mail messenger, another name for mail guard (q.v.)
•  P.S.O.: Parcel Sorting Office
•  RECORD OFFICE: A stationary office of the railway mail service where documentation for the sections (q.v.) is prepared
•  RH: Receiving House (not necessarily railway)
•  R.M.S. (Railway Mail Service): This replaced the Travelling Post Office in 1881
•  R.S.: Railway Station or Railway Sorting depending on the context. Usually it is a station unless there is reason to believe otherwise.
•  R.S.O.: Railway Sorting Office
•  SECTION (see Travelling post office): Sections are travelling post offices of the RMS. There are two categories:
– Sorting sections (normally numbered 1-24) (In the UK these would be called travelling post offices)
– Transit sections (normally numbered 25-49) (The equivalent of the mail guard within the RMS) •  SET: the establishment of RMS sorters (the crew), whether in a travelling or stationary office.
•  ‘T’ (in bars): The obliteration used by offices of the Travelling Post Office (q.v.)
•  TRAVELLING POST OFFICE: a railway vehicle constructed or adapted for the carriage and sorting of mail while in transit (now called a section)
•  S.R.O.: Sub Record Office (see Record Office)
•  THE TRAVELLING POST OFFICE (superseded in 1881 by the Railway Mail Service): The service responsible for sorting mail in post offices, mail offices and sections and its disposal by the railway, etc.
•  WINDOW: A window at which articles may be collected or tendered for dispatch

Ireland (Republic)

•  ANÍOS (or SUAS): Up
•  B.A.C. (Baile Atha Cliath): Dublin
•  C.S.: Sorting Carriage
•  LAE: Day
•  OICHE: Night
•  P.O.T. (POST OIFIG TAISTILL): Travelling Post Office
•  RAIL: Station
•  SÍOS: Down
•  STAISJUN: Station


•  AMBULANTE (or AMB) (short for ufficio ambulante): Travelling Post Office
•  AMBULANZA : As for Ambulante (q.v.)
•  FERROVIA (accent on via): Railway (Station)
•  MESSAGGERE: Mail guard
•  SEZ. (SEZIONE): Section (of the TPO)
•  STAZIONE: Railway Station
•  TURNO: Crew or Shift



The distinguishing character for travelling post offices is the Aida character meaning ‘between.’ It is to be found to the left of the route indication on earlier postmarks, but more recent postmarks have it at the right, for example ‘Tokyo-Hiroshima Between.’
Here is a list of some of the characters one might possibly meet:
•  Aida: Between (間)
•  Azuma: east (東)
•  Bin: Mail (便)
•  Gatsu: month: (月)
•  Gogo: afternoon (午后)
•  Gosou: escort (護送)
•  Gozen: morning (午前)
•  Hatsu: departure (発)
•  Ka: day (日)
•  Kita: north (北)
•  Kudari: down (下)
•  Kudari: down train (下り)
•  Mawasu: to go round (回  or  廻)
•  Minami: south (南)
•  Minato: port (港)
•  Miru: to go round (回  or  廻)
•  Nen: year (年)
•  Nishi: west (西)
•  Nobari: up (上)
•  Nobari: up train (上り)
•  Tetsuro: railway (鉄路)
•  Tetsudou: railway (鉄道)
•  Tetsudou yubin: Railway Post Office (鉄道郵便)
•  Yubin: Mail Service or Post Office (郵便)
•  Ichi:1 (一)
•  Ni: 2 (二)
•  San: 3 (三)
•  Yon: 4 (四)
•  Go: 5 (五)
•  Roku: 6 (六)
•  Nana: 7 (七)
•  Hachi: 8 (八)
•  Kyu: 9 (九)
•  Ju: 10 (十)
•  Ju ichi: 11(十一)
•  Ju ni: 12 (十二)
•  Ju nana: 17 (十七)
•  Ni ju: 20 (二十)
•  San ju: 30 (三十  or  卅)
•  Miso: 30 (三十  or  卅)
•  San ju yon: 34 (三十四  or  卅四) (Note: the symbol 卅 is not in common use but is used in postmarks, presumably because it takes up less space)


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•  b/n (bez nomera): without number (of the postal carriage).
•  DZ (Dselss Zela): Railway
•  DZ. PK: Railway Post Office
•  DZ. ST. (DSELSSZELA ST): Railway Station
•  Jerakstits: Registered
•  OTR (OTRADI): Return
•  P.V. (Pasta Vagona): Postal Wagon, i.e. Travelling Post Office
•  P.V. NOD (Pasta Vagona Nodala): Postal Wagon Compartment
•  P.W. (Pasta Wagon or Pasta Wahgis): Postal Wagon


•  P.V. (Pasto Vagonas): Postal Wagon, i.e. Travelling Post Office


•  AMBT. (Ambulant): Travelling Post Office
•  BAHNPOST: Travelling Post Office
•  CONVOYAGE: Travelling Mail Guard
•  CONVOYAGE-AMBULANT: Possibly a service between a mail guard and a full travelling post office
•  F.C. (Facteurs-Convoyeurs): As for ‘Convoyage’
•  M* (Matin): Morning
•  N* (Nachmittag): Afternoon or Evening
•  S* (Soir): Afternoon or Evening
•  SCHAFFNER-BAHNPOST: As for Convoyage-Ambulant
•  V* (Vormittag): Morning
•  * As a suffix to the time indication after the date in the rectangular postmarks.



•  F.C. (Ferrocarril): Railway
•  O.P.A. (Oficina Postal Ambulante): Travelling Post Office
•  Transb. (Oficina de Transbordes Postals): Transfer Office (as under USA)



•  BRIEVENBUS: Letterbox
•  H. SPOORWEG: Hollandsche Ijzeren Spoorweg (Holland Iron Railway)
•  N.R. SPOOR WEG: Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg (Dutch Rhenish Railway)
•  POSTKANTOOR: Post Office
•  SPOOR WEG: Railway
•  SPW POSTKANTOOR: Railway (Station) Post Office
•  STATION: Railway Station


•  R.P.O.: Railway Post Office
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office. Generally a maritime TPO unless the word ‘railway’ is in the postmark.

New Zealand

•  RAILWAY (or RAIL): Railway Station
•  R.P.O. Railway Post Office
•  R.T.P.O.: Railway Travelling Post Office


•  AGENCIA POSTAL AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office
•  BUZON AMBULANTE: Travelling Box
•  BUZON TREN: Train Box (Thought to have been applied by railway company employees)
•  BUZON VAPOR: Train Box (As above)
•  ESTACIÓN: Railway Station


•  BANEN, BANERNES, etc: Railway
•  BUREAU AMB: Foreign Mail TPO via Sweden
•  Jernbanestation: Railway Station
•  Kassepost fra Sverige: Posted in letter box in Sweden
•  NATTOG: Night Train
•  STASJON: Railway Station
•  PXP., POSTEXP., etc. (POSTEKSPEDISJON): Postal dispatch, thus BERGENSBANENS POSTEKSP. = Bergensbanen TPO (or mail guard)
•  REISESJEFEN: TPO Superintendent
•  V.L. (Vestre Linje): Western Line
•  Ø.L. (Østre Linje): Eastern Line


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•  AMB. (AMBULANS POCZTOWY): Travelling Post Office
•  DWORZEC KOLEJOWY: Railway Station
•  LIST DWORCOWY: Station Letter (Definition under ‘Germany’)
•  POLECONY: Registered Letter
•  WIECZÓR: Evening


•  A (or AMB) (AMBULANCIA): Travelling Post Office
•  A.P. (AMBULANCIA POSTAL): Travelling Post Office
•  CONDUÇAO: Conductor (i.e. mail guard)
•  E.A. (ESTAÇAO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
•  R.A. (REPARTIÇAO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
•  R.P.A. (REPARTIÇAO POSTAL AMBULANTE): Travelling Post office
•  U.H. (Ultima Hora): Last Hour


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•  AMB: Travelling Post Office
•  GARA: Railway Station
•  POŞTA AMBULANTĂ: Travelling Post Office
•  TREN (Train): Mail Guard
•  V.P. (VAGON POSTAL): Travelling Post Office



•  ВАГОНЪ (Vagon): Wagon (ie railway carriage)
•  ВОКЗ. (ВОКЗАЛЪ) (Vokzal): Major Railway Station
•  ДОПЛАТИТЪ (Doplatit): To Pay
•  ЗКСПРЕСС (Ekspress): Express (train)
•  ЖЕЛѢЗНАЯ ДОРОГА (Zheleznaya Doroga): Railway (Literally iron road)
•  ЖЕЛѢЗНОДОРОЖНЫЙ П.О. : Railway Postal Section (in some station postmarks)
•  ЗАК (ЗАКАЗНАЯ, ЗАКАЗНОЕ) (Zakaznaya, Zakaznoe): Registered (mail)
•  ИЗЪ (Iz): From (Found in many of the marks used by the St. Petersburg suburban TPOs)
•  OTДѢЛEНIE (Otdelenie): Mail Guard (?) (Literally compartment or section) (N.B. The meaning of this word is disputed. It may not be possible to give a precise translation.)
•  ПЛ. (ПЛАТФОРМА) (Platforma): Railway Platform, Halt
•  П (ПOѢЗДЪ) (Poezd): Train (Found in some of the marks of the St. Petersburg suburban TPOs)
•  P.V. (ПOЧТОВЫЙ ВАГОНЪ) (Pochtoviy Vagon): Postal Wagon (i.e. travelling post office)
•  РАЗЪѢЗДЪ (Razezd): Railway Siding
•  С.П.Ь. or С.П.ЬУРГ St. Petersburg
•  CT. or СТАНЦІЯ (Stantsiya): (Railway) Station
Note that after 1918 the symbol Ѣ (E) was replaced by ‘E,’ and the soft sign Ъ was omitted.
Special acknowledgements to Kiryushkin & Robinson ‘Russian Railway Postmarks’ (see their entry in the Russia section of the  TPO Bibliography).



•  СТАНИЦА (Stanitsa): (Railway) Station

South Africa

•  HEEN: Down (Literally ‘Away’)
•  N.E.T.P.O.: North Eastern T.P.O.
•  P.K. (POSKANTOOR): Post Office
•  RAIL: Railway Station
•  R.L.S.: Registered Letter Section
•  R.O.: Rail Office
•  R.P.K. (REIZENDE POST KANTOOR, i.e. Dutch: early): Travelling Post Office
•  R.P.K. (REIZENDE POSKANTOOR, i.e. Afrikaans: post 1920s ): Travelling Post Office
•  SIDING: Station (unstaffed)
•  STA P.O., STA P.K.: Station Post Office/ Stasie Poskantoor
•  STA-POS: (STASIE POSKANTOOR): Station Post Office
•  STASIE: Station
•  STATION B.O.: Station Branch Office
•  TERUG: Up (Literally ‘Back’)
•  TVL.T.P.O.: Transvaal T.P.O.
•  W.T.P.O.: Western T.P.O.


•  ALCANCE: Late Fee Posting Box
•  AMB. (AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
•  CERT. (CERTIFICADO): Registered
•  EST., ESTn (ESTACIÓN): Railway Station
•  ESTAFETA AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office
•  EXPRES (TREN EXPRES): Limited stop train
•  LIGERO: (TREN LIGERO): Local stopping train
•  MIST., MIX., MIXTO (TREN MIXTO): Slow train with passenger cars and freight wagons
•  RAPIDO: Express train
•  TREN POSTAL: Mail only train
For a comprehensive list of Spanish abbreviations see Nathan Ambulantes in the Spain section of the TPO Bibliography.


•  ANK (Ankommande): Incoming, arrival
•  BR: (Boden Region, the same as ØN)
•  EGEN TRAFIK: ‘Own Traffic’ (Inscribed on freight stamps used when the goods were to be transported by only one railway company: see ‘Samtrafik.’)
•  FKMB (Fack med Bevackning): Mail in Locked Box
•  FKMP: Box guarded by postman
•  FRAN: From (as in Fran Danmark)
•  G: Göteborg Region, (the same as V)
•  INR (Inrikes): Inland
•  Järnvägsstation(en): Railway Station
•  JPKP (Julpostkupéer): Christmas TPO
•  L (Linköping Region, the same as Ö)
•  M (Mellersta Distriktet): Midland District (Before 1977, the same as X after 1977)
•  M: Malmö Region (After 1977, the same as S before 1977)
•  NED: Down
•  NN (Nedre Norra Distriktet): Lower Northern District (the same as YR)
•  PKP (Postkupéer): Travelling Post Office
•  P.K.X.P. (Postkupéexpeditioner): Travelling Post Office (literally: Forwarding Mail Van)
•  PLK (Postiljonskupéexpeditioner): Mail Guard on forwarding Mail Van
•  S (Södra Distriktet): Southern District (before 1977, the same as M after 1977)
•  SAMTRAFIK: Intercompany traffic (See ‘Egentrafik.’)
•  ST. BAN: Main Line (as in Södra St. Ban, etc.)
•  STOCKHOLM BAN: Stockholm Railway Station.
•  UPP (or U): Up
•  Utlandet: Overseas
•  UTR (Utrikes): Overseas
•  V (Västra Distriktet): Western District (the same as G)
•  X: Gävle Region (after 1977, the same as M before 1977)
•  YR: Sundvalls Region (the same as NN)
•  Ö (Östra Distriktet): Eastern District (the same as L)
•  ÖN (Övre Nona Distriktet): Upper Northern District (the same as BR)


•  AMBULANTS: Railway Post Office (TPO Regional HQ)
•  BA. (BUREAU AMBULANT): Travelling Post Office
•  BAHNHOF: Station
•  BAHNPOSTAMT or BAHNPOSTBUREAU: Railway Post Office (TPO Regional HQ)
•  B.B. (BADISCHE BAHNHOF): Baden Railway Station, Basel
•  BP. (BAHNPOST): Travelling Post Office (or mailguard)
•  C.F.F. (CHEMINS DE FER FÉDÉRAUX SUISSES): Swiss Federal Railways
•  FIL (FILIALE): Branch (Office) F.F.S.
•  (FERROVIE FEDERALI SVIZZERE): Swiss Federal Railways
•  FÜRKA.BAHN: Fürka Oberalp Railway
•  GARE: Railway Station.
•  HAUPTBAHNHOF: Main Station
•  REGIONAL: Regional (Railway). (i.e. a local TPO usually attached to a stopping train)
•  RHÄT. BAHN: Rhaetian Railway
•  S.B.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE BUNDESBAHNHOF): Swiss Federal Railways Station, Basel.
•  S.C.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE CENTRAL BAHN): Swiss Central Railway
•  S.C.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE CENTRAL BAHNHOF): Swiss Central Railway Station, Basel.
•  STATION: Railway Station
•  STAZIONE: Railway Station
•  SUCC. (SUCCURSAL): Branch (Office)
•  T. Train
•  Z (ZUG): Train



•  GEZICI: Travelling
•  SEYYAR: Mobile, Travelling


United States

•  AGT.: Route Agent (roughly equivalent to mail guard)
•  CITY DIST: City Distribution (i.e. walk sort)
•  DEPOT: Railway Station
•  E.D.: Eastern Division (of an RPO route)
•  F.M.: Fast Mail (Mail only train)
•  L.M.A. (or L.M.Agt.): Local Mail Agent (railway mail transfer clerk (q.v.))
•  M.D.: Middle Division
•  M.R.M: Mail Route Messenger (i.e. route agent)
•  N.D: Northern Division
•  PTS: Postal Transportation Service
•  RMS: Railway Mail service
•  ROUND TABLE: Sorting Table at Transfer Office (q.v.)
•  R.P.O: Railway Post Office (travelling post office)
•  R.R. (Railroad): Route Agent cancel
•  S.D: Southern Division
•  S.R. Short Run (part of a RPO route)
•  STATION: Postal Station (i.e. a sorting office with no railway connection unless otherwise indicated)
•  TERMINAL R.P.O.: Transfer Office (q.v.)
•  T.R: Through Run (complete RPO route)
•  TRANSFER CLERK: The clerk at a transfer office (q.v.)
•  TRANSFER OFFICE: An office of the RMS (q.v.) which, being situated at a railway station, exchanged mails between RPOs and city sorting offices.
•  TRICK: Tour of duty
•  W.D: Western Division.


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