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Section 10: Special Shunting Signals and Indicators

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On the London Midland and Scottish Regions, illuminated indicators displaying the words "set back" [10.35] were provided to control movements setting back into certain sidings, at locations where handsignals cannot be observed. Equivalent indicators on the Eastern Region displayed the words "shunt back" [10.36]. If the indication was extinguished, the setting back movement had to stop immediately.

[10.35] "Set Back" Indication.
Area: London Midland and Scottish Regions   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain
[10.36] "Shunt Back" Indication.
Area: Eastern Region   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

The Toton signals provided at Eggborough Power Station (North Eastern Region) in 1966 displayed two aspects. The 'stop' aspect comprised flashing red lights either side of a steady white pivot light [10.37]. Three steady white lights at 45° (see [10.14]) meant "proceed at slow speed".

[10.37] Loading/Unloading Indicator showing 'Stop'.
Area: Eggborough   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

In July 1967, the Operating Committee agreed on a standard form of indicator for loading/unloading. Three white lights vertically displayed (see [10.15]) means "move slowly in the normal direction for loading or unloading". Three flashing white lights at 45° [10.38] means "move slowly in the opposite direction to that required for loading or unloading". Three steady white lights at 45° (see [10.14]) means "prepare to stop", and three horizontal lights (red-white-red) (see [10.27]) means "stop immediately, irrespective of distance from the indicator". The Toton signals at Eggborough Power Station were altered to display aspects conforming to this new standard in August 1969.

[10.38] Loading/Unloading Indicator showing 'Move Slowly in the Opposite Direction'.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

At certain installations on the Scottish Region, the position light loading/unloading indicators did not display a "prepare to stop" aspect, and three steady white lights at 45° (see [10.14]) instead had the meaning "move towards the loading/unloading facility". Three vertical white lights (see [10.15]) meant "move away from the loading/unloading facility".


At various places on the London Midland, Western and Southern Regions, indicators in the form of a white light [10.39] are provided to control movements setting back, typically into sidings. There may be a series of indicators provided at intervals along the line, and they may be double-sided. If the white lights are extinguished, the setting back movement must immediately stop.

[10.39] Set Back White Light.
Area: Various   Usage: High   Status: Current

A series of special 'creep' indicators was installed at Fiddlers Ferry Power Station (London Midland Region) to control the unloading of coal trains. These displayed a vertical line of white lights for 'proceed' (see [10.32]) or a horizontal line of white lights meaning "stop immediately" (see [10.31]). If it was necessary for the train to reverse, a blue letter "X" was displayed [10.40].

[10.40] Creep Indicator showing 'Reverse'.
Area: Fiddlers Ferry   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain

In c.1971, a signal comprising six white lights was provided at Blaenant Colliery (Western Region) to control the movement of trains through the bunker while they were being loaded with coal. Just one light in the signal was illuminated for the 'stop' indication [10.41], while the illumination of three lights in the shape of an "L" meant 'proceed' [10.42]. A diagonal pattern consisting of four lights formed the 'set back' indication [10.43].

[10.41] Loading Signal showing 'Stop'.
Area: Blaenant Colliery   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[10.42] Loading Signal showing 'Proceed'.
Area: Blaenant Colliery   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[10.43] Loading Signal showing 'Set Back'.
Area: Blaenant Colliery   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

At certain locations on the Scottish Region, an indication "P" may be shown for propelled movements [10.44]. No propelling movement must be made beyond the signal concerned unless the "P" indication is displayed.

[10.44] "P" Indication (e.g. associated with shunting signal and route indication "F").
Area: Scottish Region   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

Two set back indicators installed at Parkeston Quay (Eastern Region) in 1976 displayed a yellow light when illuminated [10.45], and these performed the same function as the set back white lights provided on some other regions (see [10.39]).

[10.45] Set Back Yellow Light.
Area: Parkeston Quay   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

In 1978, a "set back" indicator (see [10.35]) at Dudley (London Midland Region) was replaced by one that displayed the letters "SB" [10.46].

[10.46] "SB" Indication.
Area: Dudley   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

Around 1979, various NCB colliery sidings on the Western Region were provided with a type of six-light signal (see [10.41 - 10.43]) that displayed modified indications. Only the top pair of lights was illuminated for the 'stop' indication [10.47], while illumination of the top and bottom pairs meant 'proceed' [10.48]. All six lights were lit for the 'set back' indication [10.49].

[10.47] Loading Signal showing 'Stop'.
Area: Western Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[10.48] Loading Signal showing 'Proceed'.
Area: Western Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[10.49] Loading Signal showing 'Set Back'.
Area: Western Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

Special signals came into use at Harwich Train Ferry Terminal in October 1980 to control the movement of trains on and off the train ferry.

A series of "stop"/"proceed" indicators are provided at some collieries on the Eastern Region to control propelling movements on the line used for loading. The 'stop' indication comprises an illuminated letter "S" [10.50], and the 'proceed' indication is a letter "P" [10.51].

[10.50] "Stop"/"Proceed" Indicator showing "S".
Area: Eastern Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain
[10.51] "Stop"/"Proceed" Indicator showing "P".
Area: Eastern Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain

From 2015, the red-white-red "stop immediately" aspect in loading/unloading indicators (see [10.27]) was superseded by a new aspect comprising three red lights in a horizontal line [10.52].

[10.52] Loading/Unloading Indicator showing 'Stop'.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current