10 train idioms that will make you lose track of time

  • With the MTR’s cross-harbour extension of the Sha Tin-Central line now open in Hong Kong, it’s the perfect time to learn English phrases related to the railway
  • Whatever you do, don’t lose your train of thought!
Yanni Chow |

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You’ll be on the fast track to writing success with these idioms! Photo: Shutterstock

With the long-awaited MTR cross-harbour extension now open and train buffs bidding farewell to the last 12-car train earlier this month, trains and railways have been in the news a lot recently.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to learn some train idioms to help us stay on track.

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That train has left the station

Meaning: An option, choice, or opportunity is no longer available.

Example: I thought the internship programme was still open for applications, but it looks like that train has left the station.

Gravy train

Meaning: A situation in which someone can make a lot of money or gain many advantages for very little effort.

Example: Sam hopped on the gravy train when he married his wife, whose family owns one of the largest property companies in the world.

We were hoping for real gravy. Photo: Shutterstock

Train of thought

Meaning: The way in which someone reaches a conclusion; a line of reasoning.

Example: I cannot seem to follow Harry’s train of thought, do you understand him? He went from talking about cats to saying we should go on holiday.

Train wreck

Meaning: A chaotic or disastrous situation that is so bad or embarrassing, you can’t help but watch.

Example: Lisa’s group spent so long working on their project, but it was a total train wreck. I felt so bad for them when Justin’s shirt caught fire.

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Jump the track

Meaning: To suddenly switch from one thought or activity to another.

Example: Jeremy’s mind jumped the track while he was performing his monologue, and he completely forgot his lines.

The wrong side of the tracks

Meaning: A poor or less prestigious part of town.

Example: Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Ben learned to be humble and appreciate the little things in life.

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Lose track of time

Meaning: To fail to stay aware of the time.

Example: I met my best friend on my way to school; we chatted until I lost track of time and missed my first class.

On the fast track

Meaning: To make progress or achieve something more quickly than usual.

Example: This internship opportunity can equip you with the experience you need to be on the fast track for manager.

Train, rocket ship – same difference. Photo: Shutterstock

Track record

Meaning: The past achievements or performance of a person, organisation, or product.

Example: This job needs someone with a good track record in investment.

Go off the rails

Meaning: To behave in an uncontrolled or unacceptable way.

Example: Basketball helped Tim make sure he didn’t go off the rails when he was young.

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