Where do you go for the 'nearest railroad' in Monopoly?

In the American edition of Monopoly, there is a Chance card that says:

Pay owner twice the rental to which he/she is entitled. If railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the bank.

However, is this the closest railroad, or the next one? If you are standing on the Chance spot in the light blues, do you go all around the board to Reading, which is the closest to you, or do you go to Pennsylvania, which is the first one you land on?

Look closely at the card and it tells you exactly what to do.

Pay owner twice the rental to which he/she is entitled. If railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the bank.

Advance means you are moving forward on the board so this will always move you to the railroad that you run into. In your example it means that you would stop at Pennsylvania.

From what it sounds like you are reading way to much into a simple card. In the game of Monopoly, there is no way to go backwards, so you never look behind you when you are trying to calculate distance.

To break it down from the Chance spot that is in the light blues, the ranking of railroads in terms of distance is

1. Pennsylvania (8 spaces away with normal movement)
2. B. & O. (18 spaces away with normal movement)
3. Short Line (28 spaces away with normal movement)
4. Reading (38 spaces away with normal movement)

The only time you can pass go with that card is on the Chance spot right after the Short Line spot on the board.

Always need to remember that when playing a board game (unless specifically stated) you calculate distance based on the direction you move.

As for the comment about the Go to Jail card, it does not instruct you to advance to jail. That card is specifying changes to the movement rules on the card because it wants you to treat it differently than other cards that direct you to move to a location.

Go to jail

Go directly to jail
Do not pass go
Do not collect $200 There are other cards which break the movement rules and those cards fully describe the changes to the rules. Go back 3 spaces This card clearly describes a movement that is outside of the normal rules and does not use the word advance so it can't be confused with normal movement. Official Tournament Rules where passing go a second time by this card is not mentioned even though it does mention passing go a second time from this space GO Each time a player’s token lands on or passes over GO, whether by throw of the dice or by drawing a card, the Banker pays the player a$200 salary. The $200 is paid only once each time around the board. However, if a player passing GO on the throw of a dice lands 2 spaces beyond it on Community Chest, or 7 spaces beyond it on Chance, and draws the “Advance to GO” card, he/she collects$200 for passing GO the first time and another $200 for reaching it the second time by instructions on the card. • Yes, I know - so we like to go all the way around the board and collect another$200 ;). That's advancing to the nearest. We wouldn't go backwards. – Mithical Jun 11 '17 at 16:03
• This sounds like opinion rather than a 100% certain interpretation of the game rule. If they meant to advance to the next railroad why wouldn’t they say that? Yes, you need to advance but they specify the nearest instead of the next railroad. There’s nothing in the rules that states the nearest is only in the direction of travel. It could very well be that you pick the nearest, forward or backward, and then advance to it. – user20989 Jun 11 '17 at 18:47
• @JoeW It’s not a matter of passing multiple locations, this is not a real-world example. For some reason a railroad is picked and you advance to it. In this case the only question is if “nearest” is synonymous with “next”. Obviously, in a dictionary definition they have different connotations. I would go with a literal meaning over an interpreted one if there was no further guidance on the matter from the rules or the manufacturer. “Nearest” literally means which one is closer in any direction. – user20989 Jun 11 '17 at 18:55
• @ColGraff another way to look at it is in the game there is only one legal direction to move and all distances are measured from that direction. To get to Pennsylvania it would take a roll of 8. To get to Reading from that same spot it would take a roll of 38 (yes i mean a series of rolls). – Joe W Jun 11 '17 at 19:01
• @ColGraff If I say "go east to the nearest shop", and there's a shop just west of you, would you assume I meant to travel eastwards around the world until you came back to nearly but not quite where you started. ignoring all the other shops you passed on your travels? It's certainly a valid interpretation, but language is very rarely amenable to such purely logical analysis, and it feels perfectly natural to me (and others here) for "advance to nearest..." to mean "go forwards until you encounter...". – IMSoP Jun 12 '17 at 15:37

The wording is ambiguous, but in the many years that I've played this game, I have never heard it interpreted as "Find the closest railroad in front of or behind you, and advance until you arrive there".

While I know of no official ruling that spells this out (which is, in itself, somewhat telling, since most people seem to assume that "nearest" only applies to spaces in front of you, and this consensus was apparently clear enough that the makers never felt the need to clarify), there have been a number of official Monopoly video games released over the years. I certainly haven't played them all, but I've played 3 or 4 different versions, and never once has any of them advanced me around the board, past "Go", to reach a railroad station behind me when drawing this card.

As these were officially licensed versions of the game, I believe that is a fairly clear indication that the rules for this card are intended to only apply to railroads in front of you.

• Besides, if it meant "nearest in front of you or behind you" then when you were on Go or Just Visiting or Free Parking, there'd be a tie, and then what would you do? – Kyralessa Jan 8 '18 at 20:54
• That comment by itself should be the accepted answer! – Benjamin Cosman Feb 24 '20 at 6:18

According to Hasbro, publishers of Monopoly, you move forward to the next railroad.

Here is the answer I received from Hasbro's Global Customer Care Representative :