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Railway Station Signaling

Simple railway station signaling system

On the picture you can see typical small railway station.

Home signals

Home signal
Every railway stations should have have home signals (one from one stage) that allow or disallow the train to enter this station. Home signals are very important for safe transportation, each home signal have its own battery for the red light that will disallow the train to enter the station if a power problem is occured. In this case the train can enter the station only with a permission of station duty officer (by phone or in written form).

As a rule home signals are named with a Russian letters Н and Ч (N and Ch) (the first letters of words "odd" and "even" in Russian). This means that the odd home signal is called N and the even home signal is called Ch.

On a single track railway home signal is a border between the station and the stage. On a multi track railway there should be special sign "Station border"

Usually home signals have 5 lights - two yellow, green, red and white.

Departure signals

Departure signal
Departure signal

Departure signals allow or disallow the train to depart the station. Their names are similar to the names of home signals but the number that means track number is added. For example departure signal Н1 (N1) allows (or disallows) the train to depar from the 1st track of the station.

Departure signals can have from 2 to 4 lights.

Shunting signals

Shunting signal

The station shown on the picture doesn't have shunting signals. As a rule there's no shunting on the stations like this one. But if the shunting is needed it can be done with the permission of station duty officer.

Shunting signals:

  • White lights allows shunting.
  • Blue or red light forbids shunting.

We'll describe shunting signals later.

Switch numbers

Odd numbers are assigned to switches in the odd station throat while even numbers are assigned to switches in the even station throat.

Normal ( plus ) position of switch is marked by an arrow on the swith gear.

Signal lights naming

In the countries where languages are based on roman alphabet (for example Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) odd and even signals are named with different letters, there's no common rule.

Who controls

If station is equipped with all-electric interlocking (in most cases) the station duty officer controls switches and signals from interlocking tower (electrical signalbox).

Sometimes the train dispatcher can control several railway stations from the distance of hundreds of kilometers. In this case there can be no personnel on the station at all.

If the station is not equipped with all-electric interlocking there should be switchman in each station throat who switches switches when he gets an order to do it from station duty officer.

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