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Section 25: Miscellaneous Signs and Indicators

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Since 1838, Post Office mail apparatus had been erected at the lineside at certain locations to enable mail bags to be both picked up and dropped off by non-stopping trains. Post Office staff on board these "Travelling Post Office" (TPO) trains relied on a recognisable landmark such as a specific bridge to know when to prepare for a mail exchange. In the absence of any suitable landmark, a large white rectangular board [25.18] was fixed on the skew at the lineside. Where the apparatus was located between two lines, however, a long white board was placed a few feet above rail level instead.

As a consequence of wider locomotive cabs, a number of enginemen had been struck and injured or killed by lineside mail bag apparatus. This led to the provision in 1938 of warning signs at about 20 yards on the approach side of the apparatus. The design of these signs, which had a yellow and black chequered pattern [25.19], was decided upon at a meeting between the railway companies and the Post Office. The signs were illuminated at night when pouches were swung towards the line. A narrower and taller version of the sign [25.20] was used where clearances were restricted.

[25.18] Mail Bag Exchange Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[25.19] Mail Bag Apparatus Warning Sign.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[25.20] Mail Bag Apparatus Warning Sign for use in areas of restricted clearance.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

A coasting board [25.21 - 25.24] marks a point where, under normal running conditions, a driver may shut off power and coast towards a stopping point (typically a station) or a significant speed reduction. Coasting boards are more usually, although not exclusively, associated with electrified railways.

[25.21] Coasting Board.
Area: Watford New Line   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[25.22] Coasting Board.
Area: Scottish Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[25.23] Coasting Board.
Area: Predominately Southern Region   Usage: High   Status: Current
[25.24] Coasting Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

In 1994, coasting boards applicable only to Class 321 electric multiple units were installed on the approaches to stations between Doncaster and Leeds, for use during trial runs. These boards have the figures "321" below a white diamond [25.25].

[25.25] Coasting Board applicable only to Class 321 trains.
Area: Doncaster - Leeds   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

At some major stations, facilities were provided to allow a long train to stand out ahead of a platform starting signal. The signal in this instance controls the starting of the train. At London Euston, a marker in the form of a blue diamond [25.26] was provided to indicate the limit of standing out beyond certain platforms.

[25.26] Limit of Standing Out Indicator.
Area: London Euston   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

A brake test indicator could be provided at a location where brake vans or locomotives are regularly attached to trains but traincrews may have difficulty observing handsignals, for example because of platform crowding. When operated, the indicator displays an illuminated indication "BT", "test" or "T" [25.27] to inform the driver or shunter that the guard or person in charge is ready to carry out the brake continuity test.

[25.27] Brake Test Indicator.
Area: Various   Usage: Medium   Status: Uncertain

In 1974, a marker board in the form of a white diamond with a black border [25.28] was installed on the Up Main line at Draycott (London Midland Region), positioned 300 yards beyond a trailing crossover. When the front of a train reached this marker board after having passed through the crossover, the driver was informed that its rear end was clear of the points.

[25.28] 'Rear Clear' Marker.
Area: Draycott   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

A 'guard joined train' indicator displayed an illuminated indication "GRD" [25.29] to inform the driver that the guard has joined the train. The indicator was operated by pressing a plunger located some distance in rear.

[25.29] 'Guard Joined Train' Indicator.
Area: Various   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

The 'station limit - loop clear' marker board is a sign that first appeared in 1984, exclusively for use on lines worked by the Radio Electronic Token Block (RETB) system. Despite its name, this board is installed at every location that is a token exchange point, whether there is a loop there or not. A 'loop clear' marker is provided on each running line leading away from the token exchange point. When a train passes the 'loop clear' marker, the driver must verbally inform the signalman using the radio. When shunting is taking place at a token exchange point, the 'station limit - loop clear' markers define the limits of authority given by the 'shunt token' for that particular place.

The original form of 'loop clear' marker, as used on the Scottish Region, is a blue and white diagonally striped reflectorised board [25.30]. This board was actually a blue and white derivative of the red and white striped sign formerly used to mark the limits of an open level crossing (see [16.27]).

The limits of authority given by an 'engineering token' are defined by the 'loop clear' markers at adjacent token exchange points. For this reason, an additional board (with its stripes sloped the opposite way) [25.31] is placed back to back with the main board.

[25.30] 'Station Limit - Loop Clear' Marker Board (front). Click Here for Photo
Area: Scottish Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[25.31] 'Station Limit - Loop Clear' Marker Board (rear).
Area: Scottish Region   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

When RETB signalling spread to other parts of Great Britain (the East Suffolk and Cambrian lines), it was implemented in a slightly different way than on the Scottish schemes. The 'station limit - loop clear' markers were of a more elongated shape [25.32] and only faced in one direction, so as to be visible to drivers of trains leaving a token exchange point. This subsequently became the standard form of 'loop clear' marker. The provision of boards facing in the opposite direction was not necessary on these schemes, because an 'engineering token' applied between the distant boards (see [2.129]) of adjacent token exchange points. Subsequently, an 'engineers full token' was introduced on the Cambrian Lines, which applied between the 'station limit' marker boards as per the Scottish schemes. This necessitated the provision of 'engineering limit' boards on the rear side of the 'station limit' boards, and to more clearly distinguish them, they had red stripes on a blue background [25.33].

[25.32] 'Station Limit - Loop Clear' Marker Board.
Area: Various   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[25.33] Engineering Limit Board. Click Here for Photo
Area: Cambrian Lines   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

In 1989, emergency stop indicators were provided about four coach lengths beyond each platform at Dartford station, in both directions. They were applicable to drivers of empty 'slam door' trains worked under Driver Only Operation conditions. The indicators were normally blank, but when operated by station staff, the word "stop" was displayed in red letters [25.34].

[25.34] Emergency Stop Indicator.
Area: Dartford   Usage: Low   Status: Historical