Roadnames and Reporting MarksThis is a topic we went back and forth on when we first started. At first we standardized on one set of reporting marks for all cars of the same road name, but we allowed the name to vary. Example: one car would be labeled "Boston & Maine" whereas another would be "Boston and Maine" but both would be labeled "BM".
Several of us (curators) discussed this and what we went to was the opposite. The Roadnames would standardized and consistent. We eliminated commas and redundant words such as "Company" or "Railway" unless it was needed to differentiate two companies. We eventually migrated to an enumerated list and now we require that the Roadname be created in a separate database of companies before being associated with a given car.
The reporting marks, however, would be true to what is written on the side of the car. Like everything else, there are a ton of typos in the database, but the goal was to put "B&M" in the reporting marks if that is what it says on the car or "BM" if that was accurate. In particular for the D&RGW and the BM, the MTL listings were force to all be the same because they were part of our earliest entries before we went to the "what is in the side of the car" rule.
The trouble is that the search engine is literal. If the car says "B&M and you search for BM, it won't be found. Furthermore, as with engines, there may be NO reporting marks at all.
For now, here is what I do. When I want the D&RGW, I use "Rio Grande" in my search and when I want the B&M, I use "Boston" or "Boston Maine".