The Railroad is an underground movement with a primary aim of freeing sentient synths from their creators at the Institute.
While the exact origins of the Railroad are unclear and deeply shrouded in mystery, it can be determined that the organization has been in existence since the creation of the first successful Generation-3 synths by Institute scientists around the 2220s. 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 with 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.
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, lead by Agamemnon, was shut down in November 2266, when the Institute's military raided 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 concluded that the location of the new headquarters had to be kept hidden upon its discovery, learning from the mistakes of his predecessor.
It was from the remnants of this incarnation of the Railroad that the faction as it is known today came to be. By Feburary of 2267, the revived Railroad, under the leadership of Wyatt, managed to get its first synth out of the Commonwealth. Under the advice of John D., Wyatt improved the organization's operational security by introducing 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 next in line, field agents second-to-last and finally HQ members on the top. Furthermore, a dead drop system was established to create a more robust and secure method of communication between agents, safehouses and HQ.
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, after he lost his life during a raid on the faction's current headquarters at the time. 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. Thompson 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
The Railroad's current success streak ended in 2281, when 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.
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.
While the Raiload'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 safehouses and clandestine contacts are reminiscent of their namesake, the 19th century Underground Railroad, which also helped slaves escape and reach free areas.
Interactions with the player character
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 The Replicated Man in Rivet City, where a 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.
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.
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 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.
Though the Railroad is a spy organization that prefers stealth and sabotage, they do maintain a small but well-equipped force.
Railroad agents that specialize as 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. As the Railroad is the only faction with ballistic weave, this gives their agents an upper hand and helps even the playing field against larger and more advanced armies.
Agents infiltrate organizations and towns and collect intel, and Tinker Tom created surveillance devices for placement at high vantage points. This gives the Railroad a powerful information network. Agents also serve a support role in establishing safehouses, stashing supplies, marking locations with Railsigns and sabotaging enemy fortifications.
- Arturo Rodriguez
- Beatrice Bell
- Ms. Boom
- Drummer Boy
- Father Clifford
- Francis O'Dell
- Herbert Dashwood
- High Rise
- Kelly K.
- Manya Vargas
- Mr. Mathers
- Mister Tims
- Old Man Stockton
- Pinky Thompson
- Ricky Dalton
- Sly Nicholas
- Doctor Stanley Carrington
- Tinker Tom
- Tommy Whispers
- Victoria Watts
- Road to Freedom
- Underground Undercover
- Operation Ticonderoga
- Precipice of War
- Rockets' Red Glare
- The Nuclear Option (Railroad)
- Burning Cover
- Boston After Dark
- Memory Interrupted
- Butcher's Bill
- Butcher's Bill 2
- Mercer Safehouse
- Randolph Safehouse
- Variable Removal
- To the Mattresses
- Lost Soul
- The Replicated Man
- A Clean Equation
- High Ground
- End of the Line
- Tactical Thinking
Behind the scenes
- The Railroad is modeled after the "Underground Railroad", an organization in nineteenth-century America dedicated to helping African-American slaves escape to northern free states and Canada.
- The Railroad contains a number of similarities to the Thieves Guild from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Both feature an agent named Maven, the name 'Mercer', brick-walled underground home bases, the use of symbolic markings on walls around the Commonwealth, etc.
- ↑ The Synthetic Truth
- ↑ Desdemona.txt - "In a world full of suspicion, treachery, and hunters - we're the synths' only friends. We're the Railroad."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "Gathered surviving runners, held an election. I lost, or won, depending on how you look at it. After the HQ massacre, most people simply left the Railroad. Only one person survived HQ, a runner named John D. He called out for volunteers to get some of the old files. No one stepped forward. My job is to rebuild the Railroad from scratch. I think where Agamemnon went wrong, is that HQ was known by too many people. I'm theorizing here, but once the Institute hit a safehouse and leaned on anyone the HQ would be easy to find. But how could Agamemnon know just how deadly those damned Coursers are? Current count: 13. 0 synths. How the hell do we rebuild from here?"
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "John D has been finding tourists at a pretty good clip. But he keeps their identities to himself. Operational security he calls it. It makes me grind my teeth, but he's probably right. I think our whole organization needs to be more like a pyramid. A broad base of tourists that help out, mainly with information. Then the runners and safehouse owners in the middle. Then agents. Then HQ on top of that.
- ↑ Railroad HQ- "A whole work crew of synths escaped together. Five synths at once. We're scrambling to keep them hidden. Coursers have been spotted looking for them. They found one of our safehouses, but no one there knew where our HQ is. John developed a dead drop system we've been using."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "I just found Wyatt's journal. For whoever runs this outfit in the future, I figure you should know how we messed up. We were running the Workgroup Five out of the CW when Coursers found our HQ. Total shitstorm. Deacon (that's what he's calling himself now) had an escape route planned, and most of the survivors owe him their life. Wyatt didn't make it past the first hail of bullets. Something everyone should know: if one safehouse goes down assume that all Hell's coming for your ass, because it probably is. Always, always, ALWAYS assume the Institute has resources beyond what we can imagine. From now on only the heavies leave HQ. And we got to move our packages fast. This slow crap hurts more than it helps."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "Lesson: move all packages outside the Commonwealth. Lamda 8 homesteaded off Parsons. She got married to a farmer. Coursers found her and it got bloody. Lost Lamda 8. Her wife almost bit the bucket, too."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - Courser spotted heading south (with company). Watts volunteered to track them."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "Desdemona is a real pain in the ass. Keeps harping on every little damned thing. Worse than Deacon and Carrington combined. We lost a safehouse and went to ground. SOP. Desdemona says I'm being sloppy. I'm getting sick and tired of leading these misfits."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "After we lost Trinity, Pinky Thompson stepped down. It took some persuasion. We held a vote on who should run the Railroad. It came down to me and Carrington. Might be a problem there."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "We're going to hit the fundamentals: operational security. Look outs, counter-intelligence, and compartmentalization. We need to reduce the response time to find a new synth runner."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "Added a new member to core HQ. Thomas Weatherby. An Institute grenade did a number on his family farm. He's rattled but very, very smart. Hoping he can arm us with something better than pipe pistols. Organization grown. Devised rail signs and improvements to dead drops. No Coursers spotted all year. Merry Christmas."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - " One of our rescues, G7-81, took a strange turn. Most synths are traumatized and go through the procedure with Doc A. G7 opted out. Begged to join. Did some crazy stunts with High Rise at Ticon. Called her into the HQ. Promoted "Glory" to heavy. She's well suited for the role (perhaps too much so)."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "Where to begin? Year started like shit. Coursers came out of nowhere. They found the Farm, lookouts only gave us 30 seconds of warning. Torched what we could, casualties light. Relocated to the Beast. Then one of the B team scouts, Tommy Whispers, made the find of the century. An old DIA facility, "Switchboard." Called him up to HQ (overdue), Glory's taken him under his wing (God help him). Tom relocated to the Switchboard or Facility X as he calls it. Then he sent an urgent message. My first meeting with P.A.M... Can't describe. She made some predictions, frighteningly accurate. Asked for data. Started feeding it to her. Very reluctant to help the cause. But after a long talk with Glory she's on board. No one knows what Glory said to PAM. Deacon jokes that PAM has a crush on Glory. Certainly PAM acts different when she's around. But there's nothing emotional about PAM. With PAM's prediction managed to anticipate a run-away."
- ↑ Railroad HQ terminal entries - "An incredible year. Everything's coming together. Tom broke PATRIOT's code, said it was designed to be broken (whatever that means). Just two words, "Mass Fusion." Sent some recon there and found nothing. Found out later why."