"Railroad china" is a unique category of dining ware called "Restaurantware," which is dinnerware produced for commercial use. A long-lost perk of over-the-rails travel by train was being served meals with special china, often created with custom decorations for the train on which you were riding. There are a few exceptions but today, most train travel includes plastic and paper -- not the porcelain and linen used to create an atmosphere of luxury for dining car passengers of yesteryear.
Thanks to an active group of collectors, railroad dining items have enjoyed strong prices. The collecting area is a very enjoyable hobby. Collectors have great flexibility -- do you wish to collect pieces from only a single railroad ? Or, say, only a particular type of piece, such as small platters, from any railroad line? Or, say, a single place setting from any line?
Unfortunately, unwary collectors can be scammed by dishonest sellers who offer fakes or reproductions. Even honest sellers can mistake patterns and unknowingly offer them as being railroad designs. As important as learning what is authentic, is learning what is not!
Please see some great information from Railroadiana.org - one of the most highly respected sources in the US - http://www.railroadiana.org/china/pgChina.php
Help avoid fakes by checking out the three links here: http://www.railroadiana.org/fakes/pgFakes.php
Here is an article I wrote about Railroad China collecting for the Ruby Lane Blog: https://www.rubylane.com/blog/categories/vintage-collectibles/times-treasures-more-on-collecting-railroad-china/
I would be glad to answer questions, please check my Profile page.
The photo below is a "Prairie Mountain Wildflowers" pattern dinner plate from the Santa Fe Railway, made by Syracuse China. The railroad name appears on the underside. The flowers are what passengers might expect to see as they enjoy traveling over the railroad line.