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Signalling Chronology

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This page presents a chronology of important events that influenced the development of signalling on Britain's railways.

1834 - First fixed signal, Liverpool & Manchester Railway.
1841 - First semaphore signal, New Cross Gate (London & Croydon Railway).
1846 - First auxiliary signals, Hawick branch (North British Railway).
1872 - First semaphore distant signals with fishtailed arms, Norwood Junction (London, Brighton & South Coast Railway).
1877 - First 'somersault' semaphore signals, Great Northern Railway.
1878 - First use of route indicators, London Bridge (London, Brighton & South Coast Railway).
1880 - First use of the electric token system in everyday service, Callander & Oban Railway.
1892 - Board of Trade requires that signals in new works show only red or green lights.
1914 - First upper quadrant three-position semaphore signal, London Paddington (Great Western Railway).
1916 - First use of yellow lights in distant signals, Great Central Railway.
c.1918 - First use of yellow distant signal arms, Great Central Railway.
1923 - First three-aspect colour light signals, London & North Eastern Railway.
1924 - IRSE Three-Position Signalling Committee report published.
1925 - Ministry of Transport requires that distant signals have yellow arms and lights.
1926 - First four-aspect colour light signals, Southern Railway.
1926 - Railway Clearing House agrees to the use of upper quadrant two-position semaphore signals.
1932 - Experimental speed signalling, Mirfield (London Midland & Scottish Railway).
1933 - First junction type route indicator, Thirsk (London & North Eastern Railway).
1952 - First level crossing provided with lifting barriers, Warthill (North Eastern Region).
1955 - (23 January) Derailment at Sutton Coldfield (London Midland Region) leads to provision of permanent speed restriction signs across network.
1956 - BR Automatic Warning System (AWS) introduced.
1961 - First level crossing provided with automatic half barriers, Spath (London Midland Region).
1969 - (7 May) Derailment at Morpeth (Eastern Region) leads to provision of advance warning indicators for certain permanent speed restrictions.
1975 - (28 February) Collision at Moorgate (London Underground, Northern City Line) leads to altered aspect sequences on approach to terminal platform lines.
1975 - (6 June) Derailment at Nuneaton (London Midland Region) leads to provision of AWS at temporary speed restriction warning boards.
1979 - First flashing yellow signal aspects introduced, Didcot East Junction (Western Region).
1984 - First application of Radio Electronic Token Block (RETB), Kyle of Lochalsh line (Scottish Region).
1994 - First SPAD indicator, Meadowhall.
1997 - First preliminary route indicator (PRI), Airport Junction.
1999 - Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) introduced.
2003 - First application of TVM430 cab signalling, Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
2010 - First application of ETCS Level 2 cab signalling, Cambrian Lines.