Train signalling

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GJEdmunds

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In the old days - before computers etc - how did a signalman in a signal box know which way to send a train. If the signal box was at a junction where a line splits into two - how would the signalman know that the approaching train was to be sent down route A and not Route B.
 
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Bald Rick

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Before train describers (the box of tricks that displays what train is what), signallers would use a combination of the working timetable, and the bell code received from the box in rear to work out what each train was. Anything running out of course would be advised by control or another signalbox.

Failing that, they would use the Mark I eyeball, sometimes with binocular assistance, to check the headcode on the front of the train.
 

Joseph_Locke

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Timetables, advance notice of special workings by telegraph, headlamp codes and local knowledge, supplemented as Bald Rick says by the bell code given when the train was offered and by looking out of the window.

It is not unheard of (in times of great upset) for the Bobby to literally flag the train down (with a flag) to ask the driver what they thought was going on, but such a thing would bring down great mirth on those involved.
 

jadmor

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The terrible Lewisham crash in south London in 1957 was caused in part because a signaller tried to send a train down the wrong road. A train was signalled down the wrong road in error, partly due to a primitive train describer giving an ambiguous message. As a consequence, trains backed up down the line on a very foggy night and the driver of a Hastings express overran a red.
 

Phil.

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Most 'boxes in rear of the junction 'box would send a routing code on a separate bell. Cambridge South would send 2-2 on the routing bell to Shepreth Branch Junction for a train for the branch. I can't remember what the code for main line was.
 
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