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Section 16: Signs at Level Crossings

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At AOCLs where the road crosses two tracks, it was a requirement that a second train must not arrive at the crossing within one minute of the previous train having cleared it. One way of meeting this requirement was to provide a "wait" sign [16.21] near each flashing white light unit (see [16.13]). This will be illuminated if another train is using the crossing. A second train must not proceed until the "wait" sign has been extinguished and the white light is flashing.

[16.21] "Wait" Indication.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Obsolescent

A more modern form of TMO crossing is provided with lifting barriers instead of gates. To lower the barriers, a member of traincrew must operate a device such as a plunger. A flashing white light (see [16.13]) indicates that the barriers have been lowered across the road. At some crossings of this type, the barriers rise automatically after the train has passed. Beyond the crossing, an indicator may be provided which shows "BU" to advise the driver that the barriers are up [16.22]. If the indicator has not illuminated by the time the train is about to pass it, the train must stop to allow a member of traincrew to return to the crossing to raise the barriers using the control unit.

[16.22] 'Barriers Up' Indication.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

An audible warning device for road users was to be provided as a standard feature at AOCL crossings, obviating the requirement for train drivers to sound the whistle or horn. Accordingly, a new sign was proposed for use at AOCLs to replace the combined speed restriction/whistle boards (see [16.19 & 16.20]), which in future would only be installed at open crossings without lights. The new experimental sign, bearing an outline image of a St. Andrew's cross above the speed figures [16.23], was tested at Battlesbridge (Eastern Region) in 1978. Following the tests, it was decided that the outline cross should be replaced by a solid black cross [16.24 & 16.25].

[16.23] Experimental Speed Restriction Sign for a Locally Monitored Crossing.
Area: Battlesbridge   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[16.24] Speed Restriction Sign for a Locally Monitored Crossing.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current
[16.25] Differential Speed Restriction Sign for a Locally Monitored Crossing. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

In 1981, a red and white diagonally striped road sign was introduced to indicate the lateral limits of an open level crossing (OC, AOCL or AOCR) on the highway approaches. On the Scottish Region, the same boards were additionally installed on the rail approaches to an AOCL, but they were rotated through 90° [16.26]. They were usually fitted on the same posts as the driver's white lights (see [16.13]). These boards ceased to be provided following new legislation in 1994 and were gradually removed from both road and rail approaches.

[16.26] Open Level Crossing Marker Board.
Area: Scottish Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

From c.1983, some automatic level crossings on double track railways were fitted with controls that enable them to operate automatically during single line working, which avoids them having to be put on local control. Speed restriction signs with an "X" to the left of the speed figures are installed on the 'wrong direction' approaches to these crossings [16.27]. The speed restriction applies approaching and passing over the crossing. This type of speed restriction sign may be provided at level crossings of the types AHB, AOCR and MWL/MSL.

[16.27] Automatic Level Crossing Wrong Direction Movement Speed Restriction Sign.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

A new form of level crossing known as "Automatic Barrier Crossing, Locally Monitored" (ABCL) was introduced following the publication of the Stott report, which came after a collision on an AOCR at Lockington (Eastern Region) on 26 July 1986. The ABCL is essentially an AOCL equipped with half barriers, but one further enhancement was to introduce a flashing red light [16.28] in conjunction with the driver's white light (see [16.13]). If the flashing red light is exhibited, drivers are required to stop short of the crossing and not proceed over it until satisfied that it is safe to do so. Prototype flashing red lights were put on trial at Dawdys AOCL level crossing on the East Suffolk Line (Anglia Region) in August 1988. The first ABCL to be commissioned was at Beccles By-Pass, also on the East Suffolk Line, later in the same year. Subsequent to this, the Railway Inspectorate decided that flashing red lights should in future be provided at AOCLs, in addition to ABCLs.

[16.28] Flashing Red Light.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

Some user-worked level crossings have been provided with markers to enable engineering staff to check that sighting distances for crossing users have not been compromised by vegetation growth. They have no relevance to train drivers. The markers on the Scotland Zone, which were installed from 1996, take the form of tall yellow rectangular boards that face towards the crossing [16.29]. They are installed in pairs in advance of the crossing, in both directions, one on either side of the line. On the Great Western Zone, a single orange post is provided on the approach to the level crossing, in each direction [16.30].

[16.29] Level Crossing Sighting Marker Board.
Area: Scotland Zone   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain
[16.30] Level Crossing Sighting Marker Post. Click Here for Photo
Area: Great Western Zone   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent

Four level crossings on the Braintree and Sudbury lines (East Anglia Zone) were converted to ABCL type in 1997. The same method of presenting non-standard differential speed restrictions on the railways in this area using a single-letter suffix (see [13.77 & 13.78]) was employed on the special speed restriction signs associated with these level crossings [16.31].

[16.31] Non-standard Differential Speed Restriction Sign for a Locally Monitored Crossing.
Area: East Anglia Zone   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

From 1998, experimental notice boards were provided on the rail approaches to certain user-worked level crossings in the Scotland Zone. These show the name and mileage of the crossing concerned [16.32].

In 2000, level crossing identification plates were fitted at user-worked level crossings with telephones on the Cambrian Lines (Midlands Zone). The signs display a unique level crossing number [16.33] which may be used in telephone communications to identify a particular crossing, avoiding any difficulties that might arise in pronouncing its Welsh name.

[16.32] Level Crossing Identification Sign. Click Here for Photo
Area: Scotland Zone   Usage: High   Status: Current
[16.33] Level Crossing Identification Plate.
Area: Cambrian Lines   Usage: High   Status: Current

In 2003, a new design of combined speed restriction/whistle board was introduced, for use at Open crossings. Unlike the former design (see [16.19 & 16.20]), the speed figures are in black characters on a white background [16.34 & 16.35]. This change brought these signs into conformity with other speed restriction signs that have black characters for speeds given in miles per hour, the black background now being reserved for metric signs (see Section 13).

[16.34] Combined Speed Restriction/Whistle Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current
[16.35] Combined Speed Restriction/Whistle Board (differential speed restriction).
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current

Locally monitored level crossings (AOCL or ABCL) on lines with ERTMS cab signalling are provided with all the usual lineside signs and indicators except that the crossing speed restriction signs (see [16.24 & 16.25]) are replaced by 'sighting boards', with just a black cross on a white background [16.36]. When the train reaches this board, the driver must check that the driver's white light is flashing (see [16.13]) and that the crossing is not obstructed, in which case the train may proceed towards the crossing at the speed indicated on the driver's cab display.

[16.36] Sighting Board for a Locally Monitored Crossing.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

The wrong direction movement speed restriction sign for an automatic level crossing (see [16.27]) has a metric equivalent with the figures (representing the permissible speed in kilometres per hour) in white characters on a black background [16.37].

[16.37] Metric Automatic Level Crossing Wrong Direction Movement Speed Restriction Sign.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current

From 2014, a new style of sighting marker was provided at user-worked, bridleway and footpath crossings on the Western Route. These comprise a white post with a yellow reflectorised strip on the side facing the level crossing [16.38]. Around the same time, equivalent markers appeared on the Sussex Route bearing the helpful, if somewhat long-winded, description "level crossing off track vegetation cutback sighting marker" in red text on a square blue background [16.39].

[16.38] Level Crossing Sighting Marker Post.
Area: Western Route   Usage: High   Status: Current
[16.39] Level Crossing Sighting Marker Board.
Area: Sussex Route   Usage: Medium   Status: Current