Even though they're operated by electricity with very little to no moving parts? Electricity powered things are usually known for very reliable.
I wonder why does this happen?
National Rail Enquiries said:Signal failure
What is a signal failure?
The signalling system is used to control the running of trains throughout their journey and ensure that trains are on the correct route at the right time to complete their journey safely.
The signalling system includes:
A signal failure may occur because:
- The signal centre - where staff use the signalling system to regulate train running, including changing the colour of the signals and operating points to set the correct route for trains
- The signals – the red, yellow and green lights, similar to traffic lights, seen at stations, on overhead gantries and at the track side
- Track points – the moveable sections of track, and the method of moving the points, that allow trains to move from one track to another
- Signal cabling - the cables used to connect the signals and points to the signal box to allow staff to use the signalling system
- Track circuit – a simple electrical system used to detect the precise location of trains on the rail network
The smooth operation of the signalling system is essential to ensure that trains run safely and on time.
- Signal cabling is damaged or stolen
- Track points fail to operate correctly
- Track circuits become faulty so that the precise location of trains cannot be correctly identified
- The electrical supply to the signalling system fails
A signal failure means that trains cannot run correctly and delays to trains will occur whilst the problem is identified, corrected and/or an alternative method of moving trains through the affected area is put in place.
E50019, I had 42 years railway experience as a fireman and driver and can't quite work out what you mean by "Given the state". Are you saying that the UK signaling system is unsafe in some way. Remembering that signalling is designed to fail in the 'safe' position the fact is that most failures are due to outside sources, such as has been mentioned, weather, general wear & tear and/or theft and vandalism.
I can see how the general public can see 'signal failure' as sounding more dangerous than in reality. Perhaps a better term should be used for such situations. I never, ever experience a signal failure that you would ever say put my train or myself in any real danger. In most cases simply an annoyance and inconvenience. I would be interested in knowing just what you meant by "Given the state", thanks.
Signalling systems are, as has been said, designed to fail safe, I don't think that's the issue here. Modern signalling is extremely complex in comparison to previous technology, presumably meaning there's more to go wrong. The question seems to be: Have signalling faults increased leading to more delays? This information should be available from NR.