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

david737

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At Harrogate the lines change direction, the Down Harrogate from Leeds becomes the Up York and the Down York becomes the Up Harrogate towards Leeds.
 
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Giugiaro

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Not true at all. On our lines it's Up to London and the mile posts decrease in value, with MP0 being at Paddington
That's really weird. Because the logic was that you'd go up in numbers as you went away from the start of the line, as it was being built, and you'd go down in numbers back to the origin.
It was the British that implement this way of though. So much so that stations overseas where numbered from one and upwards as you built the line, and the number would even stuck as the name of the location if the station ended up being in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
 

Tomnick

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That's really weird. Because the logic was that you'd go up in numbers as you went away from the start of the line, as it was being built, and you'd go down in numbers back to the origin.
It was the British that implement this way of though. So much so that stations overseas where numbered from one and upwards as you built the line, and the number would even stuck as the name of the location if the station ended up being in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
Down in the direction of increasing mileage is the usual situation here. Relatively few lines are Up in the direction of increasing mileage. It makes sense - Up is usually to the principal station, and zero mileage is usually at the principal station.
 

Annetts key

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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.
You should be careful using signal numbering to work out which is the up line and which is the down. Different standards in different areas have been used over the years.

BR Western Region practice in the 1970s was for the first signal on the up line to be a low odd number, as this was the first, it was the furthest from London on the main lines. The prefix would of course be the power signal box prefix, and then the number, Subsequent signals would then count up as a series of odd numbers. But often with gaps (in case of future need), hence a train going up to London may see, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 etc…

The first signal on the down line, would then be a low even number (and be the nearest to London on the main line), hence a down train may see, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc…

For automatic signals, this system was not used, and a different system was used. The prefix was related to the line name, followed by a number related to the appropriate mileage. Hence an up train on the main line may see UM156, UM155, UM154 etc…

A down train may see DM154, DM155, DM156 etc…

The current Network Rail standard is completely different. Up direction signals are even numbers. They count down to London for the main lines, hence a up train may see 1936, 1934 etc… But note that on multiple track railways or bidirectional lines, some even numbers will be used for the ‘reversible’ signals on the adjacent line(s).

Down direction signals are odd numbers, but they count up as you travel away from London on the main line, hence you may see 1927, 1929 etc…

So the lower number signals are London side (for the main lines) and higher number signals are furthest from London (on main lines).

Different schemes may be found in other areas…

And for mechanical signal boxes, the signal number is actually the lever number. So may have absolutely no relevance to the line or direction.

Down in the direction of increasing mileage is the usual situation here. Relatively few lines are Up in the direction of increasing mileage. It makes sense - Up is usually to the principal station, and zero mileage is usually at the principal station.

Also note that at some junctions, the branch line mileage may or may not start at zero. If it does not start at zero at the junction, the branch will take it’s mileage from the main line and continue counting with an increased value as you move further along the branch.
 

swt_passenger

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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.
Closer to home, Fareham, Portchester, Cosham - SN & SWR.
 

Gloster

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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!)
It wasn’t when the manual box was there: when the points were Normal they were set for the Basingstoke line. Basingstoke was the Main, Romsey the Branch.

On the Laverstock Loop the mileage counts up from London via Andover until it joins the Romsey line, when it starts counting back down to London via Eastleigh.
 

Annetts key

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Also, note that ‘normally’, mile posts and quarter mile posts are in the ‘up’ line cess. But on some lines, they are in the ‘down’ side cess, because at some point in the past, the railway changed the up line designation to the down and vice a versa…

On some branch lines, it’s up towards the branch and down towards the main line junction!
 

Ken H

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This is like boyage at sea. You go into a port with port buoys on your port side. So your red port light is next to red buoys.
But somewhere like the solent yoo are going into port by the west and east entrances. So somewhere off Cowes there is a change of buoyage. Marked with big purple arrows on the chart.
 

SWTurbo

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It wasn’t when the manual box was there: when the points were Normal they were set for the Basingstoke line. Basingstoke was the Main, Romsey the Branch.

On the Laverstock Loop the mileage counts up from London via Andover until it joins the Romsey line, when it starts counting back down to London via Eastleigh.
ah, very nice to know! do you know of any reason why that was changed?
 

Gloster

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ah, very nice to know! do you know of any reason why that was changed?
The Loop was only reopened in 1981 and that was probably how it had been set out when the line opened in 1857. Anyway, Main to Branch is more logical than v.v.
 

DelW

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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.
Travelling from Kings Cross to Euston (or Euston Square), you have the choice of using the "northbound" Northern Line, or the "southbound" Victoria Line, or the "westbound" Metropolitan Line. They all run more-or-less parallel to each other, in a roughly south-westerly direction.
 

Tomnick

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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
Thanks! Is that a recent thing, or has it always been so?
Also note that at some junctions, the branch line mileage may or may not start at zero. If it does not start at zero at the junction, the branch will take it’s mileage from the main line and continue counting with an increased value as you move further along the branch.
The Midland (once it settled for zero at St Pancras) had a brilliantly consistent approach to that - if the branch connection faced towards London, the mileage continued upwards from the main line mileage at the junction, otherwise it started at zero.

There are/were, if I remember correctly, five places where the increasing mileage from London met itself head-on. One for a trivia tag?
 

gimmea50anyday

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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.
the changeover point is east of Man Vicc, its actually slightly West of Stalybridge.
 

snowball

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the changeover point is east of Man Vicc, its actually slightly West of Stalybridge.
According to the Quail/Trackmaps map (1990 and 2013 editions), Victoria to Stalybridge via Ashton is Down all the way. However, Piccadilly via Guide Bridge to Stalybridge Junction (immediately before Stalybridge station) is Up.
 

Tractor37

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the changeover point is east of Man Vicc, its actually slightly West of Stalybridge.
From Manchester Victoria it’s down towards Leeds. It may change over at Miles Platting towards Stalybridge on the Diggle route to the up (I don’t sign that way but the Calder Valley route towards Rochdale and Bradford is the down direction all the way.
 

rower40

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Tyne & Wear Metro use "In" and "Out". "Out" is towards the Airport, and the clockwise track of the loop via North Shields (as it's the 'out'er of the two tracks.) But the shared-use NR-controlled line is still "Up" and "Down".

At Pelaw Junction, "Down" Metro trains from South Hylton and Sunderland become "Out", and "In" from the Airport become "Up" (towards London on the Up Sunderland line.) The Aide-Memoire is the phrase "Down & Out".
 

WestRiding

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Up is towards Cleethorpes for just about the entirety of that route, except between Dore and Swinton, and a short section through Doncaster.

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. What utter tosh to suggest it's not worth the effort using. Obviously an enthusiasts opinion. I'd like to hear the responses of track workers who take protection from a signaller, that the term up/dn should not be worth the effort.
 

contrex

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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.
In France, generally tracks are numbered, and the main convention is that a voie paire (even numbered line) is towards Paris and a voie impaire (odd numbered line) is away from Paris. There are some regional peculiarities (e.g. the Agen-Toulouse direction is sens impair). The odd/even convention applies to train numbers as well. I did see a 1931 mention of voie montante & descendante (ascending & descending) as alternatives but I think they are very old fashioned now. Track voie (fem) paire/impaire, direction sens (masc) pair/impair.
 

edwin_m

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In France, generally tracks are numbered, and the main convention is that a voie paire (even numbered line) is towards Paris and a voie impaire (odd numbered line) is away from Paris. There are some regional peculiarities (e.g. the Agen-Toulouse direction is sens impair). The odd/even convention applies to train numbers as well. I did see a 1931 mention of voie montante & descendante (ascending & descending) as alternatives but I think they are very old fashioned now. Track voie (fem) paire/impaire, direction sens (masc) pair/impair.
There's an echo in that in the UK, in that (unless it's changed recently) the standards specify signal numbers should be even for signals controlling Up direction moves, and odd for Down. However some older signalling either pre-dates the standard or ignores it.
 

RPM

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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.
Also Chiltern services from Oxford to Marylebone run on the Down Bletchley as far as Gavray Junction.
 

saintsfan

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As mentioned above about Wilton Junction, services from Salisbury towards Bristol depart on the Down Main, then after Wilton Jcn join the Up Warminster and after Hawkeridge Jcn, join the Down Trowbridge! The mileposts from Salisbury to Wilton Jcn are measured from Waterloo, the mileposts from Wilton Jcn to Bradford Jcn are measured from Paddington via Swindon. The mileposts from Bradford Jcn to Bathampton Jcn are measured from Bathampton Jcn and the remainder measured from Paddington!

And at Exeter St. Davids (again as mentioned) if you're heading towards Exeter Central from P1 & P3, you'd see the Down Direction OFF indicator illuminated, but normally with UW (Up Waterloo) in the route indicator.
 

edwin_m

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Also Chiltern services from Oxford to Marylebone run on the Down Bletchley as far as Gavray Junction.
This is one of the few lines where Up and Down have been switched over in recent history. It was originally a LNWR branch from Bletchley to Oxford and was Down from Euston via the former south to west curve at Bletchley. By swapping it over, there is no Up/Down transition at Oxford, the curve at Bicester or at Bletchley, from where it always has been Down towards Bedford. As it was out of use for a period, all staff would have had to start from scratch with route knowledge so could pick up that change at the same time. No previous signalling equipment was retained - if it had been them some drawings might have had to change and even things like route indicators. EWR trains are likely to be Down all the way from Oxford to Cambridge.
 

Andyjs247

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Also Chiltern services from Oxford to Marylebone run on the Down Bletchley as far as Gavray Junction.
When the line between Oxford and Bicester was rebuilt the up and down directions were reversed. As built by the Buckinghamshire Railway in 1850 up was towards Bletchley and Euston where there was a direct west to south connection. The station at Oxford Rewley Road was a terminus.

The connection to the Great Western at Oxford came later then later still the southbound connection at Bletchley closed.

When EWR Phase 2 opens in 2023, Milton Keynes to Oxford will be up direction and throughout to Paddington. I guess with the line closed for rebuilding it provided a suitable opportunity swap the directions although the mileage still increases towards Oxford.
 

rower40

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There's an echo in that in the UK, in that (unless it's changed recently) the standards specify signal numbers should be even for signals controlling Up direction moves, and odd for Down. However some older signalling either pre-dates the standard or ignores it.
Newer installations ignore this for platform starter signals - e.g. Glasgow Queen Street high level where the signal number is 80 + <platform number>. Also the Derby has platform signals are in numerical order.
 

59CosG95

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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
IIRC the Jubilee changes from NB/SB to WB/EB with the 1999 extension, i.e. it's NB/SB at Green Park, then switches to WB/EB at Westminster.
 

Annetts key

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Newer installations ignore this for platform starter signals - e.g. Glasgow Queen Street high level where the signal number is 80 + <platform number>. Also the Derby has platform signals are in numerical order.
Is this a very recent change, or a local variation?

Only it’s not the case for Bristol Temple Meads for example (resignalled under TVSC Didcot in 2018, however the design dates from about four years earlier).
 

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