Monopoly Railroads: Names, Rules & Winning Strategies (2022 Guide)

Monopoly Railroads

Monopoly is a strategic board game based on buying properties and often raises questions about how to win. One common question is about the Monopoly railroads and whether or not buying railroads is a good strategy or not. We will take a look at the Monopoly railroads and the best method for winning.

The Monopoly game board is a cultural icon that generations of families have enjoyed.

This popular game is all about the real estate and transportation industry: building, acquiring, and extracting revenue from properties.

If you land on a property, you can either buy it or ignore it. If another player buys it, it is owned by them and whoever stops there pays rent. 

However, you don’t want to buy every site you come across. There is a cost to purchase property. It’s crucial not to overspend on city properties early on, as you need to save cash for houses and hotels later on. Some real estate is worth more than others, and knowing which site, line or property to buy and which to pass over is the key to winning the game. 

A bit of history

The earliest known version of the game was The Landlord’s Game, created by an American named Elizabeth Magie. It was patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902. She made it to demonstrate how a landlord could exploit a tenant through the power ownership gave them.

In 1933, Charles Darrow modified the design of Lizzie Magie’s original game and sold it to Parker Brothers. When Hasbro acquired Parker Brothers in 1991, they acquired the rights to Monopoly.

Also read: Mr. Monopoly: The Monopoly Man

What are the railroads in Monopoly?

The Monopoly railroads are Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad, B&O Railroad, and Short Line (at least in the US Classic edition!)

Monopoly was born from a real-life city. Its creator modeled it after Atlantic City, New Jersey. Of these four, only three of them are real railroads operated by real companies. The one that isn’t a real rail or city is The Short Line.

Reading Railroad

Reading railroad is the first Monopoly railroad on the game board. This railroad lies between Income Tax Road and Oriental Avenue. The real one used to be operated by Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, later Reading Company. It served Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Pennsylvania Railroad

Pennsylvania is the second line that players will find on the board, between Virginia Avenue and St. James Place. This line did serve Atlantic City, but through a subsidiary. It used to be the biggest railroad business in the world. It connected New York, Chicago, and Washington, among others.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

The B&O in B&O Railroad stands for Baltimore and Ohio. The real-life B&O line did not serve Atlantic City. In the 1800s, the B O Railroad provided transport between the Ohio River and Baltimore.

Short Line Railroad

This last railroad is believed to be an abbreviation of Shore Fast Line, a line operated by a small company in the railroad industry called Atlantic City and Shore from 1907 until 1948. Shore Fast Line connected Atlantic City and Ocean City, in Jersey.

Alternative Monopoly Railroad Names

There are very many other versions of the game so that the names might be different. For instance, in the British Monopoly board, the names of the railroads are Kings Cross Station, Fenchurch St Station, Marylebone Station, and Liverpool St Station.

In “Here and Now: World Version,” airports replace the railroads. 

Are the railroads in Monopoly worth it?

To Monopoly players, railroads are a hot topic. But how much value do they have? Are some of the tracks more valuable than others?

In Monopoly, if you land on a railroad that no one owns, you can buy it for $200. When someone lands on your railroad, they are forced to pay you rent. 

The Monopoly railways can be profitable if you can buy three or four of them. This is a good power move, as you’ll get a 50% to 100% return on your investment. Also, one or two railroads may be worth it if there are only two players, to prevent your opponent from owning three or four.

Buying the last railroad space may not bring a lot of profit, but by purchasing it, you can potentially save $100 each time you find yourself in one. 

The railroad tracks are an incredible force. In a game of Monopoly, it’s possible to win with four rail roads and no houses.

Some people are naturally gifted at Monopoly. Others are not. But you can improve your skills by learning from players who win. For example, one Monopoly champion thinks buying can win you the game. 

Craig Way, a 2010 regional champion, thinks you can win with just the railroads because if you have all four, you control the traffic. One way of winning is to buy all four or, if you can, block someone from getting that last one.

Also, because they’re in the middle of the board, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across them by rolling the dice or getting a Chance/Community Chest card.

Monopoly railroad rules

Players often misunderstand the rules around Monopoly in general, and the rules around the Monopoly railroads, in particular. This is why it can be hard to know the best strategy to win the game. 

Buying railroads

You can buy a railroad space when you land on it. If you decide not to buy it, the railroad goes up for auction; according to the official rules, “at the listed price or above. The high bidder then purchases the railroad. The rent for railroads depends on how many railroads you own. If you own one, the rent is $25.” 

Likewise, if you own two, you get $50 from anyone landing on either. If you own three, you get $100, and if all four railroads are controlled by you, the rent is $200.

However, the owner must ask for the rent before the next player rolls the dice. Therefore, if you are inattentive, you may lose the rent.

Rules for mortgaging Monopoly railroads

If your cash is running low, you can sell your property deed to the bank for cash or to other players. Banks are the only place where you can transfer money between players. To have a property’s mortgage lifted, you cancel the debt with the bank with an extra 10% interest.

When you own a railroad or other property in the city, you make business with it: you can sell it at any price to another player. That new owner has the option of paying off the mortgage prices or waiting until later to make the payment. If they wait, there is an interest, so it is usually better to make a payment for the entire cost of the mortgage when buying it. 

Rules for mortgaged Monopoly railroads

So what are the rules for railroads that have been mortgaged? Let’s say you own the four railroads in the city, but one is mortgaged. What happens when there is traffic on the mortgaged railroad, or what would happen if some of the other players landed on another railroad site that wasn’t mortgaged?

In Monopoly, a railroad with a mortgage is just like any other mortgaged property. If another player lands on it, there is no rent cost. The owner of the line collects zero dollars.

However, if a player lands on one of your railroads that isn’t mortgaged, the player owes you rent for the one they landed on plus any other line you own, even the mortgaged one. If you own all four lines, the $200 rent isn’t discounted even if one of your railroads is mortgaged. One railroad that is mortgaged does not affect the rent owed when players land on other railroads you own.

Also read: 5 Monopoly Mortgage Rules

Traveling Between Railroads

According to the official rules, “whenever a player lands on a railroad, they may move their token to any other railroad owned by the same player. The player must pay rent even if they do not choose to travel. A player may travel on their railroads for free.” According to Hasbro, publishers of Monopoly, you move forward to the next railroad.

Here are the railroads to watch out for.

The railroads are valuable. They provide steady income and can block your opponent for a turn. In addition, they’re in the middle of the board so that everyone will get hit by them sooner or later. And if someone lands on a railroad via a roll or a card, they must pay the owner.

If a railroad is unowned, whichever player lands on it can buy it for the listed price. But if that player doesn’t want to buy it, the railroad will go to the auction at the listed price. The player who bids the highest will win the auction and own the railroad.

Perhaps you are low on cash and can only buy one, or maybe another player is selling their railroads and you’re not sure which one to bid on, this piece of information can help:

The B&O Railroad gets landed on more than Short Line, Reading and Pennsylvania Railroad.

The beloved game Monopoly has been sold in 114 countries and translated into 47 languages, so it’s not surprising that the rules can get confusing. If in doubt, you can look up the official rules of the games. 

The game of Monopoly can be very competitive, so, whether you win or lose, remember to always be gracious. No one appreciates a sore loser or a braggart.

Tom Wilson

I love Monopoly! I've been playing it since I was 10 - now, with decades of experience I have decided to put everything I know about Monopoly, online!

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