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In a world full of suspicion, treachery and hunters - we're the synths' only friends. We're the Railroad.Desdemona

The Railroad is an underground movement with the primary aim of freeing sentient synths from their creators at the Institute.



The Railroad has been in existence since at the least the time of the creation of the first successful Generation-3 synths by Institute scientists around the 2220s.[1] Following the public's discovery of the synths during the Broken Mask incident in Diamond City in 2229, the question if they deserve the same rights as natural humans became a major subject of debate, with frequent bickering between opposing sides. Many people believed that the Institute's synths were mere machines, just another model of advanced robot. Paranoia began to develop as local residents' loved ones vanished overnight and were replaced with artificial clones that eventually malfunctioned and went berserk, as with the case of Mr. Carter. Others, however, felt that synths deserved to be free, having being treated as slaves by their creators at the Institute. This is a point that makes some convinced that the synths are worthy of saving. It was from these ideals that the earliest possible incarnation of the Railroad would emerge.[2]

Wyatt's efforts to rebuild[]

It is in evidence that the Railroad has been beaten down and reborn many times over the years, however its clandestine nature has ensured the group's survival in the long run. The earliest known incarnation of the Railroad, led by Agamemnon, was shut down in November 2266, by an Institute raid on their headquarters. Wyatt took the responsibility of rebuilding the organization from the ground up, after many of the members left following the HQ massacre. A runner named John D. was the sole survivor. In order to keep the Railroad alive, Wyatt chose to keep the site for the new headquarters hidden upon its discovery. Learning from the mistakes of his predecessor, he had figured out that once the Institute had attacked a safehouse, it would've been easy for them to track down the HQ, as so many people knew about it.[3]

It was from the remnants of this incarnation of the Railroad that the faction as it is known today came to be. By February of 2267, the revived Railroad, under the leadership of Wyatt, managed to get its first synth out of the Commonwealth. Under the motives of maintaining what he called "operational security," John D. did not reveal the names of the new tourists he had found to help. Wyatt introduced multiple reforms to the Railroad's infrastructure. One of them was a clear hierarchy of gradually ascending power; a pyramid structure with independent tourists and sympathizers on the bottom, safehouse operators and runners third, field agents second, and finally HQ members on top.[4] Furthermore, a dead drop system was established to create a more robust and secure method of communication between agents, safehouses and HQ.[5]

Under the leadership of Pinky Thompson[]

In a period when the Railroad was once again experiencing dark times, Pinky Thompson succeeded Wyatt's role as leader in December 2273, the latter having lost his life after the old headquarters was uncovered and sacked by Institute coursers. With the aid of Deacon, most of the survivors were able to make it out alive. After setting up shop at a new location, Pinky passed a new decree to tighten security at HQ, only giving heavies clearance to leave and ensuring that the organization moves to relay all packages out of the region as quick as possible.[6] He also recommended that all fugitive synths remain in custody of the Railroad until they are beyond the borders of the Commonwealth, following the assault on a homestead near Parsons State Insane Asylum by coursers, which resulted in the loss of a synth codenamed Lambda 8 and her spouse.[7]

When he received intel that a courser and a few other Institute operatives were on a mission taking them beyond the Commonwealth, Pinky assigned one of his agents, Victoria Watts, to shadow them on their trek south.[7] She later settled down in the Capital Wasteland and rented an apartment in Rivet City to lie low while protecting the identity of a runaway, Harkness, aka A3-21. Having risen up the ranks of the local security force to become their commander, Harkness was at greater risk of being tracked down and reclaimed by the Synth Retention Bureau. The arrival of the bureau's head, Dr. Zimmer, and his synth escort Armitage, made the possibility of this threat more likely. It was then imperative that agent Watts was to remain in the area to serve as a bodyguard for Harkness.

In September 2276, Pinky's leadership started to come under pressure after the loss of another safehouse, Trinity.[8] He later resigned from office and was succeeded by Desdemona, who won against Dr. Carrington in the election. The doctor became Dez's right-hand man.[9]

The Switchboard and P.A.M.[]

Immediately after Desdemona took office, the Railroad began to take a big step forward. The new leadership put focus on the fundamentals; operational security, lookouts, compartmentalization, and counterintelligence, analyzing and making improvements where Pinky went wrong.[9] 2279 saw the arrival of Thomas Weatherby to HQ. Adopting the moniker "Tinker Tom," Weatherby, a highly intelligent individual, designed new weapons and other useful technologies for the Railroad as part of a complete rearmament program. Desdemona and her aides also made improvements to the dead drop network and introduced the railsign system to allow agents to covertly mark cache, safehouse, and dead drop locations, as well as the presence of allies and potential dangers. Simply put, it was like Christmas for the organization. No coursers were on the radar during the year.[10]

In 2280, Glory, unit designation G7-81, a recently liberated synth, opted out of the memory wipe and joined the Railroad under the leadership of Desdemona. She was promoted to heavy the same year.[11]

The Railroad's current success streak ended in 2281, when the coursers discovered and razed another homestead to the ground. Yet, there were little casualties, and later that year, the faction's second heavy, Tommy Whispers, discovered the Switchboard. After moving HQ to there, Desdemona's agents uncovered the Predictive Analytic Machine, an advanced pre-War computer AI that would become a vital asset to the Railroad for years to come.[12]

Present day[]

In 2283, an Institute insider named Liam Binet, under the alias "PATRIOT," established contact with the outside world. Tinker Tom intercepted his messages and figured out his passphrase, which was "Mass Fusion." From then on, Patriot became the Railroad's main contact in the Institute, although he himself is totally unaware of this connection for security reasons.[13]

The good streak persisted into 2286, with Institute sightings completely ceasing for three months and just four synths rescued. However, this was once again the calm before the storm, as the Institute was gearing up to activate its reactor, while the Brotherhood decided it was time to intervene and stop its preying on the Commonwealth.[14]


The Railroad is constructed like a pyramid, with the base composed of "tourists" (informants and sympathizers), above which stand runners and safehouse owners, then an even smaller group of field agents, and finally, the most secretive and heavily protected, the HQ members that have access to all the information and coordinates Railroad operations. All individuals answer to Desdemona. Field agents are given aliases in place of their real names in order to protect their identities and operate on a "need-to-know" basis to protect the Railroad.

While the Railroad's main concern is helping synths, they are also known to work with groups such as the Abolitionists to assist runaway slaves. The Railroad's methods for aiding in escape can be extreme, going so far as to find doctors such as Horace Pinkerton and Amari to perform full facial reconstruction and mind wipes on escapees. Their current command center is located in the Old North Church in downtown Boston, after their previous base was compromised following a raid by the Institute. Their network of safe houses and clandestine contacts are reminiscent of their namesake, the 19th century Underground Railroad, which also helped slaves escape and reach free areas.


As far as the Institute is concerned, androids are mere machines with no free will of their own that exist only to serve their creators.[15][16] However, the Railroad stands by the doctrine that, even as machines, self-aware androids look, behave, think and feel as humans do, entitling them to the freedom intrinsically enjoyed by human beings as well as emancipation from their owners.[17] However, while the Railroad wishes to help Gen 3 synths, members are divided on Gen 1 and 2 synths, with some not wishing to aid the earlier models because they argue they are more robotic than sentient.[18]

The Railroad also occasionally assists human slaves when able, although they cite that there are many other abolitionist groups specifically focused on slaves, but no other group can aid with the unique challenges of concealing androids.[19]

To this end, the Railroad employs the skills of computer science experts to alter the memories of the android to provide them with a clean slate, as well as the skills of a plastic surgeon to conceal the android's true identity.[20] A Railroad branch in the Capital Wasteland recently aided an android (designation A3-21),[21] but the operation was so risky that the branch had to temporarily shut down to keep its members safe until Commonwealth investigators abandoned the manhunt.[16][22][23]


Though the Railroad is a spy organization that prefers stealth and sabotage, it does maintain a small but well-equipped fighting force. Railroad agents that specialize as frontline soldiers are known as "heavies." They are responsible for the defense of Railroad safehouses and escaped synths should they be attacked by enemy forces. They commonly make use of Gauss rifles or railway rifles and wear armored coats.

Agents infiltrate organizations and towns and collect intel, and use surveillance devices placed at high vantage points. This gives the Railroad a powerful information network. Agents also serve a support role in establishing safe houses, stashing supplies, marking locations with railsigns and sabotaging enemy fortifications. They also have a network of non-members that assist them by providing safe harbor, money or manpower; they call these individuals "tourists."


The Railroad lacks the industrial base and refinement of the Institute, the firepower and armor of the Brotherhood of Steel, or the popular support of the Minutemen, forcing it to rely on what it can salvage or create on its own. For much of its known history, the Railroad was forced to get by with relatively low-tech weapons and gear merely adapted for their purposes. This situation changed completely with the introduction of Tinker Tom into headquarters. Best described as a suffering genius, Tom has revolutionized the Railroad's technological edge, introducing a slew of purpose-built weapons, armor, and tools. The standardized Railroad armored coats issued to heavies finally boasted proper levels of protection, while custom weapons like the Deliverer ensured they had tools matching their skillset. For non-combat purposes, Tom has introduced the MILA, a complex surveillance device whose precise workings seem to be a mystery even to its inventory, but which ensures a steady stream of intel right into its headquarters.[10][24]

The other crucial asset, at least in 2287, is P.A.M., whose predictive capabilities and processing power were crucial to its survival. Processing data provided to it by Railroad field operatives, P.A.M. provides the organization with locations of DIA caches, coursers to eliminate, and helps in planning operations so that they are as safe and effective as possible.[25]

Finally, through its associates, the Railroad has access to expert medical, electronic, and computer services. These allow for the robust modification of body types and faces (exploited by Deacon), modifying synth memories, and everything else necessary to protect the synths.[26]

Interactions with the player character[]

Fallout 3[]

In Fallout 3, the Railroad plays an important role in The Replicated Man, in which the Lone Wanderer becomes involved in their conflict. During the quest, an Institute scientist named Dr. Zimmer requests aid in capturing a runaway android, and Railroad agent Victoria Watts pleads with the Wanderer to take pity on the android and fake its death.

Dr. Zimmer, Ms. Watts, and the android give very logical and convincing arguments for their point of view, and the player character must make an ethical choice based on the limited information they gain from each of them. There are multiple "good Karma" solutions.

Fallout 4[]

In Fallout 4, it is possible for the Sole Survivor to learn about the Railroad through several sources and even join them after a certain point in the story. They can investigate the area around Park Street Station, speak with Doctor Amari at the beginning of The Molecular Level who indicates that the Railroad would be helpful to their cause, or overhear people in the Diamond City market, the Dugout Inn or guards in Goodneighbor discussing the elusive Railroad. All of these will result in the Sole Survivor getting the quest Road to Freedom. Upon completion of this quest and subsequently Tradecraft, they will be presented with the opportunity to join the faction. Piper also makes comments about them when The Glowing Sea quest starts.

Membership in the Railroad may negatively affect relations with other main factions. The more quests the Sole Survivor does for the Railroad, the more the Institute and the Brotherhood of Steel will disapprove of their actions. If the Sole Survivor sides with the Brotherhood of Steel or the Institute, they are eventually sent to exterminate the Railroad, as the organization's motives oppose both of the former parties' goals in the region.

Relations with the Minutemen are not affected by joining the Railroad. However, when completing the Minutemen version of The Nuclear Option, the optional mission must be completed or the Railroad (including Deacon if he is the current companion) will become hostile when the player character next speaks to Desdemona. One will still be able to accept A Clean Equation from P.A.M., Lost Soul from Doctor Carrington and even the To the Mattresses missions from Desdemona when notified by Drummer Boy. Any extra attempt to speak with her outside accepting and completing quests will cause the Railroad to become hostile. This appears to be a bug as the Lost Soul missions should not be available if no survivors remain at the Institute.


Related quests[]


The Railroad appears in Fallout 3, Fallout 4, its add-on Far Harbor, and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.

Behind the scenes[]


Fallout 4[]

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare[]

Magic: The Gathering[]


  1. The Synthetic Truth
  2. The Sole Survivor: "Why don't you tell me who you are first?"
    Desdemona: "In a world full of suspicion, treachery, and hunters - we're the synths' only friends. We're the Railroad. So answer my question."
    (Desdemona's dialogue)
  3. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2266 Nov
  4. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2267 Feb
  5. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2273 Mar
  6. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2273 Dec
  7. 7.0 7.1 Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2276 Jan
  8. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2276 Sep
  9. 9.0 9.1 Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2277 Dec
  10. 10.0 10.1 Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2279
  11. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2280
  12. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2281
  13. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2284
  14. Railroad HQ terminal entries; PAM mainframe terminal, 2286
  15. The Lone Wanderer: "Sounds like slavery to me. You sure they don't "wander off" on purpose?"
    Zimmer: "Nonsense! This is a machine we're talking about. Can you enslave a generator, or a water purifier? Of course not. The same principle applies. But let's get back to your mission. You are to find this missing android. I've tracked him to somewhere here in the Capital Wasteland. He must have done something drastic, like facial surgery and a mind wipe, or else I would have found him by now. It will be no easy task. He may not even realize he's an android. Don't upset him by talking with him. Just come get me immediately. I'll handle it."
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Lone Wanderer: "What do you know about this android Railroad?"
    Horace Pinkerton: "Bunch of bleeding heart morons if you ask me. They're going to get themselves killed one of these days. And for what? Machine liberation? But, they have brought me some really interesting tech over the years, so I guess they're okay. And that android! He was the chance of a lifetime."
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  17. The Lone Wanderer: "Anything else I should know?"
    Victoria Watts: "Just understand that this android is now, for all intents and purposes, a man. He looks human, he acts human. He believes he IS human. But even if he's not... Even if he's a machine... He's capable of rational thought. And emotion. So you see, his soul is as human as yours or mine. This person -- and he is a person -- deserves a chance at freedom. Please, if there's a shred of decency in you, don't take that away from him."
    (Victoria Watts' dialogue)
  18. The Sole Survivor: "What can you tell me about the Gen 1s and 2s?"
    Deacon: "Everyone wants to liberate the Gen 3s. The human looking synths. Some of the synths in the Railroad, like Glory, think we should help earlier models, too. But Gen 1s are basically the same as, well, a Protectron. So the line gets muddy. Do we defend AI rights? Terminals? Hell, turrets? Any time it gets brought up: fireworks. All the old arguments flare up. The upshot is Glory and some others won't run missions like this."
    (Deacon's dialogue)
  19. The Lone Wanderer: "What about human slaves? Don't you try to help them, too?"
    Victoria Watts: "Yes, if we are able. But there are others in the Wasteland who assist in the plight of human slaves. Our android brethren have only us."
    (Victoria Watts' dialogue)
  20. The Lone Wanderer: "I know you're part of the Railroad. What do you know about the android?"
    Manya Vargas: "A while back they were asking around for a computer genius to give our friend a new set of memories. You know, a clean slate and all that. Pinkerton at Rivet City took care of him a while back. Was a complete success. No one will recognize that robot now. I'm glad. But you hush yourself about all that. The hounds are still out sniffing around."
    (Manya Vargas' dialogue)
  21. The Replicated Man
  22. The Lone Wanderer: "I know you're part of the Railroad. What do you know about the android?"
    Tulip: "They were looking for a tech wizard a while back. Someone who could fiddle with the android's memories. But you better stop poking around. Those Commonwealth hunters are still out there, tracking him down. We shut down the Railroad for safety."
    (Tulip's dialogue)
  23. The Lone Wanderer: "I'm interested in this android from the Commonwealth."
    Herbert Dashwood: "We don't do that anymore. Well, not until the heat dies down. For now, the Railroad is shut down. Used to help them escape from the Commonwealth. Find them places to lay low. The last one was someone real important. They are still looking for him."
    (Herbert Dashwood's dialogue)
  24. Tinker Tom: "So my sensor, I call her MILA, needs to be up high. Real high. Dez forced me to put some cameras and other low tech surveillance crap on it to watch the Freedom Trail. Chuck that stuff if you need to. Like You-Know-Who couldn't spoof a conventional camera, right?"
    (Tinker Tom's dialogue)
  25. The Sole Survivor: "Do you work for the Railroad?"
    PAM: "Yes. My goals and the Railroad organization have a high degree of correlation. They provide data. I provide first order approximations of the behaviors of all residents of the region designated Commonwealth. Rephrasing. I predict the future."
    (PAM's dialogue)
  26. Desdemona: "We've hit a snag with Doctor Amari. You've dealt with her before. But you may not know of the vital role she plays in our organization. Synths are supposed to go to the Memory Den, the doctor gives them a new set of memories, then they move out."
    (Desdemona's dialogue)


  1. Bethesda Fallout 76 Interview ~ QuakeCon At Home 2020:
    Ferret Baudoin: "I was a designer on Fallout 4, I did the Railroad, I did Deacon, I did Curie, I did all sorts of fun quests there. And I was the lead quest designer at launch for all the content for Fallout 76, and then post-launch, I was lead designer."
The Railroad