When does 'up' become 'down' and vice versa?

Kingston Dan

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My understanding is that the London direction is 'up' and away from London is 'down'. This makes sense when there were individual railway companies/groups operating out of a single London termini going to single termini in major cities. But now we have services running across the old company lines through stations like Edinburgh Waverley (and I imagine Birmingham New Street/Leeds etc) along with Thameslink where the same service runs on what would be both up and down lines on the same service (I'm thinking the Kings X - East Cost service to Glasgow which runs 'down' to Waverley then 'up' to Carstairs then 'down' again to Glasgow Central. Is Bristol/Cheltenham/Birmingham up or down? Does the Luton - Brighton line run both up and down as it leaves City Thameslink?

Or have I got this wrong?
 
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Smokey Joe

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Up and Down can also be used in relation to other major destinations, Cleethorpes to Manchester line has Manchester up, even past Sheffield.
Also up and down can be used correctly for steep gradient lines (a train can go up, down a hill for example!), so the whole terminology is confusing and not worth the effort using.
Use Northbound etc instead and it will clear up 90% of confusing cases like you've listed.
 
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It honestly varies

Thameslink switches designation at Farringdon station, and the Birmingham - Bristol line is up towards Birmingham and down towards Bristol all the way to Penzance.

The Edinburgh - Carstairs line swaps at Haymarket East Junction. Curiously the Benhar has the up towards Edinburgh, so an Edinburgh - Glasgow will be on the down from Waverley - Haymarket East, the up until Midcalder Junction, then the down the rest of the way. Compare to the Aberdeen - Penzance, which only swaps once (at Derby)

There are historical reasons for this I think but they date from when the lines were built and my knowledge of the pre filofax era of the iron horse is a tad on the scant side sad to relate.
 

tiptoptaff

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Often depended on the company who built the railway.

In South Wales, Up was towards London and Down to Cardiff/Swansea on the Brunel-built GWR/South Wales Railway. Meanwhile next door on the Taff Vale and Rhymney Railways, Up was towards the pits and down was to Barry/Penarth etc. Up the hill, down the hill.

This caused much confusion at Divisional Control in Newport in the 1920s at Grouping, when GWR took over!
 

Cherry_Picker

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For a specific curiosity, Stourbridge Junction. The Chiltern services between Kidderminster and Marylebone are on heading towards London on the down road as far as Stourbridge, where route miles are measured towards Paddington via Worcester. There must be other examples of trains that go ‘down’ to London, but it’s fairly unusual.
 

jp4712

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Often depended on the company who built the railway.

In South Wales, Up was towards London and Down to Cardiff/Swansea on the Brunel-built GWR/South Wales Railway. Meanwhile next door on the Taff Vale and Rhymney Railways, Up was towards the pits and down was to Barry/Penarth etc. Up the hill, down the hill.

This caused much confusion at Divisional Control in Newport in the 1920s at Grouping, when GWR took over!
Absolutely. Other examples were the Midland Railway headquartered in Derby, which is why a Cross Country Train going SW - NE is on the Up line from Bristol to Derby then Down from there to Sheffield; and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway where all trains were Up towards Manchester Victoria.
 

Tomnick

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Up and Down can also be used in relation to other major destinations, Cleethorpes to Manchester line has Manchester up, even past Sheffield.
Up is towards Cleethorpes for just about the entirety of that route, except between Dore and Swinton, and a short section through Doncaster.
Also up and down can be used correctly for steep gradient lines (a train can go up, down a hill for example!), so the whole terminology is confusing and not worth the effort using.
Use Northbound etc instead and it will clear up 90% of confusing cases like you've listed.
If you need to unambiguously identify a line or direction, then it's very much worth the effort using...because it's the system that the railway uses?
 

2192

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Absolutely. Other examples were the Midland Railway headquartered in Derby, which is why a Cross Country Train going SW - NE is on the Up line from Bristol to Derby then Down from there to Sheffield; ...
Yes, the Midland HQ was in Derby, but the Midland was "up to London" (despite what Wikipaedia says/said). If you offered freight (or yourself) for London to the Midland office at Bristol they would have sent it (or you) Bristol-Derby-London, up all the way -- until 1923 when the Midland was absorbed into the LMS. So it was logical for Bristol - Birmingham - Derby to be "up".
 

Falcon1200

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If you need to unambiguously identify a line or direction, then it's very much worth the effort using...because it's the system that the railway uses?

Absolutely, and it's the system the railways has used for decades. As long as lines are clearly identified, and everyone involved is fully aware of the designations, which is the case, there is no confusion.

As a matter of interest, how do things work on the London Underground ? Does the Central Line, for example, have Eastbound and Westbound Lines, with a changeover somewhere in central London ?!!
 

Tomnick

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As a matter of interest, how do things work on the London Underground ? Does the Central Line, for example, have Eastbound and Westbound Lines, with a changeover somewhere in central London ?!!
I don't think there Central Line would have any changeovers, other than where the Hainault loop meets itself? LU generally uses E/B and W/B (or N/B and S/B) consistently over the full length of a line, even where the local geography makes it seem illogical. The only exception, IIRC, is the original Circle Line, which is Outer Rail and Inner Rail, with the lines feeding into and out of it changing convention at the junction in each case.
 

t0ffeeman

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Camden Rd on the NLL. The WLL starts down with Wembley Mainline, then Up with Victoria then down with Wimbledon
 

martin2345uk

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Barking to Gospel Oak is Up, then as soon as you join the NLL at Gospel Oak you're going down.
 
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On Merseyrail between Hooton and Capenhurst, there's a point where it changes from Up being towards Liverpool to Up being towards Chester. Generally signals have even numbers in the Up direction and odd numbers in the Down direction. But of course there are plenty of exceptions to that too.
 

snowball

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One place where up becomes down is Manchester Victoria - from there Liverpool and Leeds are both down.

Any double track triangular junction must include at least one up-down transition.
 

jamesst

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On Merseyrail between Hooton and Capenhurst, there's a point where it changes from Up being towards Liverpool to Up being towards Chester. Generally signals have even numbers in the Up direction and odd numbers in the Down direction. But of course there are plenty of exceptions to that too.

Hooton South Junction you're looking for there. Up and down Birkenhead with the up towards Chester in one direction. Up and down Chester with the up towards Liverpool from the other side of the junction.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Bi-directional lines, used in many countries but not much here, tend to use terms like "Line 1" and "Line 2" etc, as each line can be used for both Up and Down traffic.
However, despite being bi-di, HS1 is "Up CTRL" and "Down CTRL" from/to the interchange with Eurotunnel.
The Channel Tunnel is Down towards France (North Tunnel), although all 6 sections (with two intermediate crossovers) are bi-di.
We'll have to see how bi-di HS2 is designated, also the fully-ETCS (and therefore bi-di) ECML.

You can also see "Line x" designations on bi-di routes in the fans of lines leading into major stations and termini - eg at Euston.
Increasingly, these are posted on signal gantries for the information of drivers.
 

PaulLothian

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It honestly varies

...

The Edinburgh - Carstairs line swaps at Haymarket East Junction. Curiously the Benhar has the up towards Edinburgh, so an Edinburgh - Glasgow will be on the down from Waverley - Haymarket East, the up until Midcalder Junction, then the down the rest of the way. Compare to the Aberdeen - Penzance, which only swaps once (at Derby)

There are historical reasons for this I think but they date from when the lines were built and my knowledge of the pre filofax era of the iron horse is a tad on the scant side sad to relate.
I have the impression that there seems to have been an informal hierarchy in Up and Down designations, more so the further the company was from London. Up to location of company headquarters; then Up towards direction of major cities directly served by the company; and then it starts to get more confusing, often relating to designations applied long ago by the companies building minor lines that were later linked up.

In the case of Carstairs to Glasgow and Edinburgh, these lines were built by the predecessors of the Caley, and applied Scottish rules; I'll have to look further into the reasons for a different convention for Haymarket East to Midcalder Junctions, as I didn't know that!
 

High Dyke

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As shown there are many occasions where a line designation changes over. I work locations where this happens. This can give some fun for train recording purposes at signalboxes. For example, at Sleaford, a train from Grantham to Skegness is a Down train throughout, for the purpose of TRB entries. However, a train from Lincoln to Peterborough is an Up train, but arrives and departs on the Down line - and recorded as such. Services in the opposite directions mirror their counterparts.
 

Giugiaro

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Usually "Up" or "Down" depends on the mileposts value.

If the milepost you encounter are stepping up in value, you're going "upwards" through the line. "Downwards" when you notice the opposite.

For train services that run through several lines, like those using Thameslink or Crossrail you'd disregard that logic and rather use "Going to X, via Y".
 

Senex

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Up to Derby from Birmingham as well.
Though not always — this 1856 Midland notice (interesting for its general comment) shews things the other way.Midland down and up lines 1856.jpg

In the case of Carstairs to Glasgow and Edinburgh, these lines were built by the predecessors of the Caley, and applied Scottish rules; I'll have to look further into the reasons for a different convention for Haymarket East to Midcalder Junctions, as I didn't know that!
The Caledonian's Edinburgh line was all-Caledonian from the start, but to Lothian Road, of course, not Haymarket — see the Caledonian Railway Act. The junction-line to Haymarket was built a few years later, but there was a long delay in opening it. It was a Caley line and so took its "down" from that system. From Haymarket Jn into Waverley of couse was on the North British line. The Glasgow line was pure Caledonian as far as Garriongill Jn, but as you say, it then joined a predecessor line, the Wishaw & Coltness.
 
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rower40

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Crossrail Tunnels are defined as Westbound and Eastbound. Trains emerging onto NR metals at either Westbourne Park (GWML) or Pudding Mill Lane (GEML) are then travelling "down". When we eventually have a Shenfield to Reading train, its directions will be Up (from Shenfield to Pudding Mill Lane), Westbound (from Pudding Mill Lane to Westbourne Park), Down (from Westbourne Park to Reading).

On the Filton Diamond, there are 3 Up-to-Down transitions (or 6 if you count both directions over the same chord), but no down-to-up ones.

On Merseyrail, there's also an Up-to-Down transition on departure from Liverpool Lime Street Deep Level, i.e. in the loop. The switch of signal numbers from Odd to Even is the tell-tale here.
 

Dunfanaghy Rd

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Wilton Junction: Down Westbury joins Up Main; Up Westbury branches off Down Main. They were, of course, separate until the 1980's when the junction was created, so I suppose we'll have to let the Broad Gauge Mob off their habitual awkwardness (sticks in the throat, but hey, ho!).
Pat
 

SWTurbo

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Wilton Junction: Down Westbury joins Up Main; Up Westbury branches off Down Main. They were, of course, separate until the 1980's when the junction was created, so I suppose we'll have to let the Broad Gauge Mob off their habitual awkwardness (sticks in the throat, but hey, ho!).
Pat
Always fun to think about old stomping ground! Tunnel junction is also an odd one as you'd imagine that the normal flow of traffic (with the points) is the up and down main, where infact its the up main and the down romsey that hold the normal! the other two are reverse! (Although its both outside lines so there is some method to the madness. (But I digress!)

More on topic, Haughley Junction (Norwich/Ipswich) sees the down main become the up bury and vice versa, however this is due to the loops that you can do allow you to go from down (towards Norwich) to up (towards london) via bury and cambridge
 

edwin_m

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Absolutely. Other examples were the Midland Railway headquartered in Derby, which is why a Cross Country Train going SW - NE is on the Up line from Bristol to Derby then Down from there to Sheffield; and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway where all trains were Up towards Manchester Victoria.

Up to Derby from Birmingham as well.

Yes, the Midland HQ was in Derby, but the Midland was "up to London" (despite what Wikipaedia says/said). If you offered freight (or yourself) for London to the Midland office at Bristol they would have sent it (or you) Bristol-Derby-London, up all the way -- until 1923 when the Midland was absorbed into the LMS. So it was logical for Bristol - Birmingham - Derby to be "up".
As far as I can tell "Up to Derby" is an enthusiast's myth. The Midland re-miled its entire network in the early 20th century starting from St Pancras by the shortest route at the time. Any branch where the junction was trailing from St Pancras would have a zero milepost, including the one at the south end of Derby, whose mileage continued all the way to Bristol and Bath. This conveniently aligned with both the LNWR and the GWR at their shared stations of Birmingham and Bristol, but between Cheltenham and Standish I believe the adjacent Midland and GWR tracks had Up in opposite directions.
Bi-directional lines, used in many countries but not much here, tend to use terms like "Line 1" and "Line 2" etc, as each line can be used for both Up and Down traffic.
However, despite being bi-di, HS1 is "Up CTRL" and "Down CTRL" from/to the interchange with Eurotunnel.
The Channel Tunnel is Down towards France (North Tunnel), although all 6 sections (with two intermediate crossovers) are bi-di.
We'll have to see how bi-di HS2 is designated, also the fully-ETCS (and therefore bi-di) ECML.

You can also see "Line x" designations on bi-di routes in the fans of lines leading into major stations and termini - eg at Euston.
Increasingly, these are posted on signal gantries for the information of drivers.
However Network Rail always designates Up and Down on each route, even if this isn't used for identifying the tracks. Without exception (I think), this is the orientation the line is shown in the Sectional Appendix.
Usually "Up" or "Down" depends on the mileposts value.

If the milepost you encounter are stepping up in value, you're going "upwards" through the line. "Downwards" when you notice the opposite.
Exceptions include the Great Central London extension (up to London Marylebone but miled from Manchester via Sheffield) and the CLC and Chat Moss routes, both Down from Manchester to Liverpool but miled from zeros at Liverpool Central and Lime Street respectively. Another one is Edinburgh to Berwick, Down but ascending mileage.
 

tiptoptaff

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Usually "Up" or "Down" depends on the mileposts value.

If the milepost you encounter are stepping up in value, you're going "upwards" through the line. "Downwards" when you notice the opposite.

For train services that run through several lines, like those using Thameslink or Crossrail you'd disregard that logic and rather use "Going to X, via Y".
Not true at all. On our lines it's Up to London and the mile posts decrease in value, with MP0 being at Paddington
 

Rescars

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As an additional level of confusion, at Exeter St David's there can be GW and South Western trains both heading for London, both up trains, but they start by facing in opposite directions.
 

The Planner

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As far as I can tell "Up to Derby" is an enthusiast's myth. The Midland re-miled its entire network in the early 20th century starting from St Pancras by the shortest route at the time. Any branch where the junction was trailing from St Pancras would have a zero milepost, including the one at the south end of Derby, whose mileage continued all the way to Bristol and Bath. This conveniently aligned with both the LNWR and the GWR at their shared stations of Birmingham and Bristol, but between Cheltenham and Standish I believe the adjacent Midland and GWR tracks had Up in opposite directions.

However Network Rail always designates Up and Down on each route, even if this isn't used for identifying the tracks. Without exception (I think), this is the orientation the line is shown in the Sectional Appendix.
Certainly Up to Derby as NR designated from Westerleigh to Derby. Up to Derby from Stoke too.
 

Dstock7080

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As a matter of interest, how do things work on the London Underground ? Does the Central Line, for example, have Eastbound and Westbound Lines, with a changeover somewhere in central London ?!!
I don't think there Central Line would have any changeovers, other than where the Hainault loop meets itself? LU generally uses E/B and W/B (or N/B and S/B) consistently over the full length of a line, even where the local geography makes it seem illogical. The only exception, IIRC, is the original Circle Line, which is Outer Rail and Inner Rail, with the lines feeding into and out of it changing convention at the junction in each case.
Circle Line is eastbound/westbound on the relevant sections.
Metropolitan changes at Baker Street from north/south to east/west.
Lines controlled by Network Rail signalling are Up and Down in those sections
 

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