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In the United States, the definition has been expanded from the older broadly defined "trains" to include wheeled vehicles used by businesses on roadways.
The word "stock" in the term is used in a sense of inventory. Rolling stock is considered to be a liquid asset, or close to it, since the value of the vehicle can be readily estimated and then shipped to the buyer without much cost or delay. The term contrasts with fixed stock (infrastructure), which is a collective term for the track, signals, stations, other buildings, electric wires, etc., necessary to operate a railway.