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Section 22: Buffer Stops

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Buffer stops, especially those that mark the end of a signalled route, are commonly provided with lights or markers to enhance their visibility.


Buffer stops at the end of terminal platform lines were provided with lights, which were lit at times of darkness and during fog or falling snow. Normally, a red light was displayed [22.1]; however, a white light [22.2] was used instead where a red light was likely to be misinterpreted by drivers approaching on an adjacent running line.

[22.1] Red Buffer Stop Light.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent
[22.2] White Buffer Stop Light.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent

Following the introduction of electric buffer stop lights, the standard arrangement adopted at each buffer stop comprised two lights on the left and one on the right, all three lights being of the same colour [22.3 & 22.4].

[22.3] Red Buffer Stop Lights. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent
[22.4] White Buffer Stop Lights.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent

In 1978 and 1980, the friction type buffer stops at the ends of Platforms 7 to 16 at London Bridge station were each provided with a circular red target [22.5].

[22.5] Buffer Stop Target. Click Here for Photo
Area: London Bridge   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain

In 1984, the buffer stop at Neilston (Scottish Region) was experimentally fitted with two reflectorised red and white diagonally striped plates [22.6] instead of lights.

[22.6] Buffer Stop Markers.
Area: Neilston   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

In 1991, a white T-shaped board was erected between the rails, in line with the top of the ramp of the Stourbridge Town branch platform at Stourbridge Junction station (London Midland Region). Two red lights were attached to the cross member [22.7].

[22.7] Red Buffer Stop Lights.
Area: Stourbridge Junction   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

In 1991, a marker post comprising a yellow disc mounted on a yellow and black striped pole [22.8] was provided at London King's Cross, between Platforms 7 and 8. The post acts as a stopping marker for HSTs or Mark 4 trains, to ensure that stock is positioned correctly for watering purposes. Similar marker posts have also been installed at Platforms 1 to 6.

[22.8] Marker Post.
Area: King's Cross   Usage: Low   Status: Current

Subsequently, the three-light arrangement at buffer stops (see [22.3 & 22.4]) gave way to a simpler two-light arrangement [22.9 & 22.10], the former right-hand light being dispensed with.

[22.9] Red Buffer Stop Lights. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current
[22.10] White Buffer Stop Lights. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

By 1996, a standard form of reflectorised board was introduced, for mounting on buffer stops at the end of signalled routes [22.11]. This is usually fitted in addition to any buffer stop lights.

[22.11] Buffer Stop Board. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

Kyle of Lochalsh was the site of a further trial involving the provision of reflectorised targets at buffer stops. In 1999, two circular red targets were fitted one above the other on a post mounted at the left-hand side of each buffer stop [22.12].

[22.12] Buffer Stop Targets. Click Here for Photo
Area: Kyle of Lochalsh   Usage: Low   Status: On Trial

At London St. Pancras in 2002, circular white markers on sprung posts [22.13] were installed in the 'four-foot' of each platform line, two metres in front of the buffer stop. They were removed shortly afterwards.

[22.13] Marker Post.
Area: London St. Pancras   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

In 2002, marker poles painted with yellow and black bands [22.14] were provided on the approach to the buffer stops on Platforms 2 to 7 at Glasgow Queen Street High Level station. Each pole is situated in the space between two lines and acts as a stopping marker for multiple unit trains. Similar marker poles have also been installed at Helensburgh Central and Larkhall stations.

[22.14] Marker Post. Click Here for Photo
Area: Scotland Zone   Usage: Low   Status: Current

In June 2012, the three red lights (see [22.3]) on the buffer stops on Platforms 7 and 8 at Stirling station were replaced with reflectorised markers as a trial. Each marker has a red diagonal cross on a white background and is surrounded by a red border [22.15]. The same style of reflectorised markers were fitted to each of the buffer stops at Glasgow Queen Street High Level station in 2016.

[22.15] Buffer Stop Markers. Click Here for Photo
Area: Stirling / Glasgow Queen Street   Usage: Low   Status: On Trial