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A comprehensive compilation of Indian Railways Signs and their meanings.  
20 Answers
Oct 25 2012 (10:05)

Entry# 1325     
A comprehensive compilation of Indian Railways Signs and their meanings.

★★★  Rail Fanning
Oct 23 2012 (22:46)
Blog Post# 560538-0     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:05)
Compiled by me thanks to years of railfanning experience after reffering to many people and online material, I would quote an example with every sign to aid in understanding to the best extent possible:
The first thing we are concerned about when we are talking about movement of trains is anything which makes the train to de-accelerate, they can be in the following instances.
PERMANENT SPEED RESTRICTION-A restriction of speed in a particular section (which otherwise is a faster speed permitted one) of a permanent nature, usually placed before steep curves, weak P.Way etc. This is apart from obvious restriction zones like that of loops at a station.
Ex: Permanent speed restriction of 80 KMPH at sirnapalli forest gradient between Uppalvai and sirnapalli stations in SC-NED-MMR line, similar can be found in many sections.
A TEMPORARY SPEED RESTRICTION-A restriction of speed which is imposed temporarily due to varied reasons like P.Way work or other reasons. A typical instance is imposition of speed restrictions before many unmanned LC’s of HYB division of SCR between DHNE-KRNT-KCG-NZB-MUE(Probably to allow better control to LP in case of a confused soul deciding to cross an LC with his road vehicle at the last moment)
Ex: Speed restrictions at Makalidurga ghat between YNK-DMM for up gradation of P.Way.
THE SIGN(for both of the above restrictions): The sign board indicating the speed to be followed would be a Triangular yellow board with speed mentioned in black, usually of reflective material to be visible to LP at night. The train needs to be at the designated speed mentioned on the board by the time it passes the board even though it is typically placed some 100mts before the actual caution abled section. Apart from the board, these cautions would already be mentioned in the Caution order given to the LP before moving the train in a particular section. Again, the crew running a train in a particular section would already e having Road learning without which they are not authorized to pilot a train. So this leaves us with the crew already knowing the restriction, we can travel rest assured as far as risks involved with overspeeding at restricted zones are concerned.
RESCTRICTION TERMINTAION: A restriction in place obviously means it would have to end somewhere, be it permanent or temporary, a large circular yellow board with a black T(again of reflective material) would be placed indicating the termination of restriction. In specific cases of Passenger and goods trains, T/P and T/G boards are placed(T/G usually after T/P as goods rakes tend to be longer) indicating termination of speed restriction of passenger and goods trains.
Railfanning Note: After a restriction is terminated while train is on a curve, one can find the display of flags by Guard and ALP, it’s amazing to see this sight especially in diesel locos accompanied by the chugging/buzzing(For Alcos and EMD’s respectively) and vigorous waving of flags.
I understand many of you must have seen this earlier, if not please try to watch the strict compliance of speed at restrictions and terminations, not to forget the display of flags/Lights.
I hope this has been useful, please keep adding while I add some more too, For a knowledgeful and safe railfanning Experience.

Oct 23 2012 (23:00)
Blog Post# 560538-1     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:05)
It is common to find distance markings beside P.Way(Track) in every section be it a normal track in plains, plateaus, ghats or mountain railways in IR. They essentially mean distance from a junction to another junction(this being a branch line and the other two junctions being Main Lines or this section is laid later) or to a terminus. These are mentioned on slabs beside tracks at particular intervals say 100 mts in diesel sections and on OHE Poles in case of an electric section.
Ex: begins with 0 at
MTP and ends at 59 odd at UAM in case of Nilgiri Mountain Railway, starts at 0 at MMR and ends at 618 odd at Secunderabad Jn.
Railfanning Note: For railfans to calculate the current speed of the train, keep observing the distance markers for a minute and note the distance covered and multiply it by 60 to reach a conclusion on the current speed of the train.
This is only possible during day as sighting distance markers is tough at nights unless you carry a IR binocular or something,again this is a old school way handy incase you do not carry a phone which has a GPS in it.

Oct 23 2012 (23:23)
Blog Post# 560538-3     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:05)
This is to assist/draw attention of LP/ALP that a signal is ahead. This type is usually a Black vertical rectangle with a yellow bar on top and bottom, and a O in the middle.This type is for goods and a rectangular yellow board with diagonal black lines for passenger.
Ex: this can be found in almost all sections, the passenger type board can be found between Tiruvarur-MV.
in common practice this is placed some 1000mts odd before a proceed signal of a station to draw attention of crew of both passenger and goods type rakes.
Railfanning Note: If you come across this board, you can expect a signal soon, in most cases neing the proceed signal before HOME signal of a station.You can therefore get ready to spot trains at that station or get your camera ready :)

Oct 23 2012 (23:40)
Blog Post# 560538-4     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:06)
Many of non railfans are usually under an assumption that crew honk for reasons beyond one’s comprehension which is not exactly the case.There are zones and boards to indicate when the crew has to honk enroute with exceptions of course.
W/L board is placed wherever IR deems the crew have to keep others alerted,in this case W/L means Whistle for Level crossing or seethe/Phata in hindi.
In all sections specially before unmanned LC’s and blind curves. A Unique identifier in Hyderabad MMTS has a board saying cattle crossing under the W/L Board spotted between BharatNagar and Borabanda. SCR has apparently set these up following the derailment of an MMTS rake between these stations right on the second day of the official inauguration of MMTS.
There are other cases where honking is done of course when the crew deems the situation fit for instance. Apart from these there are a few patterns of honking which is used as a communication between Loco Crew to guard/station staff etc which we will look into later.
Railfanning Note: Please note the strict compliance by the Loco cre to W/L boards when travelling, this is done with near 100% accuracy, cant help but wonder how IR can maintain crew apart from many flaws. Maybe we don’t appreciate the merits as we do to the de-merits after all :P

Oct 24 2012 (07:10)
Blog Post# 560538-8     
Guest: 7fc04c69   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:06)
The mind blowing and highly useful compilations.The examples that you have provided makes it even more easier to understand.
There are many here(including me) who would have shied away from asking these questions lest somebody thinks we are not so knowledgeable yet call ourselves railphans. These compilations will be most welcomed by such group.
God bless you.

Oct 24 2012 (09:02)
Blog Post# 560538-17     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:07)
A few other common boards sighted beside P.Way:
These are again white slabs usually found beside P.Way with numbers and an arrow in black over it.The direction of arrow indicates a down or uphill gradient ahead.
Ex: 750 with a arrow over it pointing downwards indicates there would be a descent of 1 in 750, lesser the number on the board
higher the gradient, say 100 with an up arrow indicates a climb of 1 in 100.These boards are found in all parts of IR as there is apparently no section without a gradient.
We can often find boards at ground level beside P.Way or elevated boards indicating A.DEN/P.WAY/SC-A.DEN/P.Way/LPI etc( the above being placed under sanat nagar bridge in Hyderabad indicating boundary of SC and LPI A.Den). In the above mentioned board A.DEN stands for Asst.Divisional Engineer for Permanent Way.Similarly AEN stands for Asst.Engineer(All departments are placed except for C&W as this is particular to stations with cleaning facilities and not sections).
At ending of divisions boards like
PWI/DAB-PWI/MUE are placed usually, in this example indicating ending of Hyderabad division and commencement of Nanded division, and Asst.Engineer, Divisional Engineer and Permanent way Inspector would be of Nanded division(Mudhked for AEN and ADEN).However I have spotted a board aftert Bibinagar towards GNT long back indicating only Guntur Division details without SC division details.
Ex: Such boards can be found at every division/A.DEN territory or Zonal End. For instance before Dharmavaram Jn where SWR ends and SCR commences, similarly before Gudur Jn where SR ends and SCR commences.
Railfanning Note: Please do observe such boards while travelling next time.
To Be Continued…

Oct 24 2012 (09:29)
Blog Post# 560538-18     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:07)
Here are a few pics, i have made these in MS Paint :D
So Please dont mind the clarity, edges, shapes or all of the above,i hope you get the idea though!!
1.Speed restriction
2.Termination for goods
Termination for Passenger
4. Signal Sighting board.

Oct 24 2012 (09:49)
Blog Post# 560538-22     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:07)
1. These type of boards indicate there is a halt station ahead which may not have proceed, home and starter signals as it wouldnt be having any loops.
Ex: Raigir between SC and KZJ in SC division or LOGH between YPR-BYPL, please note that stations are not considered halt stations in case of an Automatic Block Territory, they are only called so in Absolute Block, however there may be a few exceptions.
2. The W/L Board i have mentioned about earlier.

Oct 24 2012 (10:33)
Blog Post# 560538-36     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:07)
THE BLOCK SYSTEM: Before we get into different kinds of signals we have to understand the meaning of a block section initially. Looking back into time there were neither timetables nor high rail traffic however that is not the case today owing to the increased traffic and reduced slots.
There are various risks involved in train operations however the operations side ones include collisions either head on or from the rear, the former possible in single line sections. It is always safe to operate a single train in
a section at a time however the entire section can’t be kept free for one train. Therefore a section is divided into many blocks and only one train is allowed in a single block at a given time. Signalling Blocks can be in between sections, yards or any other place where railways deem fit. It is very important for a railfan to understand and appreciate the working of signalling in block sections. Understanding this very thing would solve many queries on train operations..
To be continued..

Oct 24 2012 (11:00)
Blog Post# 560538-42     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:07)
Oops one more important SIGN i forgot to mention which is also common at loops, FM written on ground level on a rectangular slab beside the track.
FM stands for a fouling mark, no train can cross this point without being permitted in some form.When a long goods rake is parked in a loop, the guards exercises caution to make sure the total rake has crossed the FM point.
This sign is fixed at a distance required at the minimum to ensure sufficient distance of rake from the next track even though
the train has vacated the earlier track.
Railfanning Note: Observe the FM mark next time, you can usually find the track(loop) curves to join the mainline after this point.

Oct 24 2012 (11:42)
Blog Post# 560538-44     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:08)
ABSOLUTE BLOCK: Absolute block section is probably the most widely used block system type in IR, In simple words a train cannot enter a block till the block is totally free of other trains and can only enter after authorization from the station crew. The authorization can be in form of a Semaphore signal, multi color signal or a token. The block section is usually the total length of track from the foremost controlled signal of the preceding station(usually advanced starter) to the rear most controlled signal of the current station(Usually outer Home). The block starts and ends between these two parts, no other train is allowed in this block once interlocked except in a few cases
which I will talk about later.
Ages back, the spotting of LV(Last Vehicle) board was mandatory to ascertain the presence of total train from the previous block to safeguard the train in few highly rare cases where it may separate. These days however axle counters are used for this purpose to count and compare the axles with that of previous departure station to the present station.
STATION LIMITS: Station limits are from the outer home of a station to the advanced starter in either directions which is called a station limit, a train typically traverses through many station limits and block sections to reach its destination.
To be continued..

Oct 24 2012 (12:00)
Blog Post# 560538-45     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:08)
INTERMEDIATE BLOCK SECTIONS: It is evident that no other train can enter a block when another train is present already, if distance between two stations is very long it may take quite a while for a train to reach the next station keeping the other train waiting. To eliminate such situations intermediate blocks are used dividing a block section into two blocks, this is with the aid of track circuitry. In this case a train waiting at the earlier station can be released right after the earlier one passes the intermediate block thereby optimally utilizing the section.
There were a lot of block instruments used earlier including a telephone with a handle(I guess most of you have seen this at some point)
to rotate probably a dynamo or some power source to communicate with the neighbouring station. Another famous instrument and system used in earlier days was the Neale’s Ball Token Instrument which could dispatch only one token at a given time. This was mostly used in conjunction with semaphore signalling.
I am not aware of semaphore signalling still existing between Birur and Shimoga, if yes then there is a good possibility of Neale’s ball system still exisiting there, also there may be a few sections where it is still existing mostly existing MG sections.

Oct 24 2012 (13:59)
Blog Post# 560538-48     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:08)
AUTOMATIC BLOCK TERRITORY: Automatic Block territory is a very useful Block type used currently in most cities having a good rail Network. I am sceptical about its existence in Bangalore however it exists in all ways out of SC Jn. I automatic block the presence of a train in a block is detected by track circuitry or by using special track circuits and Axle counters in conjunction.
The major difference between this and absolute is that track length between two stations can be divided into multiple number of blocks irrespective
of the presence of loops, similar to that of an intermediate block sections in absolute but in a much wider scale and with no need for a physical presence of a human to carry out the interlocking. This aids in accommodating more trains in between stations, thereby optimally utilizing tracks and saving time.
When a train passes a signal post in automatic territory the aspect automatically changes to RED(STOP ASPECT), after the train clears one block ahead the same signal turns to CAUTION, after train crosses two blocks ahead the ahead signal turns to caution and this turns to ATTENTION, after train crosses three blocks ahead, this signal turns to PROCEED while the ahead one turns to ATTENTION.
Ex: One more interesting aspect of automatic block section as noticed at James Street Station before SC Jn from Begumpet is quite a lot of times in the afternoon when traffic is high more than one trains are accommodated in the same block of them one atleast being an MMTS, similar is the case in mornings too especially YPR-SC GR arrival times. Trains are allowed to do so only in automatic block section however they are allowed to move with a speed restricted to km/hr
Railfanning Note: Railfans might find it interesting to note similar cases of the example I quoted in your nearby automatic zone. For SC members you can see this regularly as MMTS and Long distance trains share a common double line unlike MAS and CSTM.

Oct 24 2012 (14:56)
Blog Post# 560538-54     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:08)
1. Home signal is the signal before say some 300-800 mts before Branches/loops of a station begin, it has arms to indicate which direction/Loop are you being headed to or Mainline Stop or Proceed.
2. In Absolute Block section, Double yellow is at outer home(signal before home), It can either be double yellow, Yellow or green.It means the Following at outer home:
Double Yellow--> Home signal is at Yellow, arms pointing to a platform.
Home signal at Red, Loop not alloted.
Green--> Home signal at yellow indicating mainline stop (or) Home signal at green thereby indicating Mainline starter also at Green for express trains.
Red(Quite Rare in Outer home)-->STOP
3. If your train is in a loop at a station, the signal given to start would be in yellow, this is called a Loop Starter while only in Main line the starter would be Directly green or yellow depending on ahead signal. Further after all Loops meet the mainline you can find a signal which is usually at Green, this is the Advanced Starter which marks the end of Station Limits/Section.
Hope this helps.

Oct 24 2012 (14:58)
Blog Post# 560538-55     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:10)
I have tried depicting Automatic section in a MS paint image, i understand that not everyone may understand my subtle art :P
This is the best i could try ;)

Oct 24 2012 (15:50)
Blog Post# 560538-57     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:10)
This is an attempt to explain Absolute block section.

Oct 24 2012 (22:09)
Blog Post# 560538-63     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:10)
There are a few common types of locomotives operated in Indian railways, notes on a few common types of power used:
Diesel Locomotives: Almost all the diesel locomotives used in IR are Diesel-Electric ones. This type uses a diesel engine as a prime mover to run the traction alternator which produces AC/DC(conversion) to be fed to the traction motors fitted to the bogies(set of frames on which wheel assembly is mounted) which actually rotate the wheels. As the alternator is rotated by diesel power to produce electricity for the
traction motors this type is called th Diesel Electric type.
All the ALCO's and EMD's in India are Diesel-Electric As far as iam aware of. Most of these are turbocharged hence the jet engine like sound both in ALCO’s and EMD’s.
If there are any guys with knowledge in electrical engineering or motors in general. There are a few motors with certain characteristics specific to them like series induction motors, shunt motors, compound motors etc. As far as the traction motors are concerned their stator fields are continuously changed from series-shunt-parallel to obtain different characteristics’(much of it later)
Railfanning Note: You can experience a feeling of loss of power and regain with full force in ALCO’s at around 30-50kmph while accelerating. This is because the motors in series-parallel full field are changed to series-parallel weak field and the alternator is cut off during this process. This is best experienced in a short rake specially in the forward coaches. Please do note it next time, this however cannot be felt in EMD’s.
To be continued..

Oct 24 2012 (22:11)
Blog Post# 560538-64     
Guest: 7fc05b63   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:09)
The rail fanning note in this case was a nice reminder to use our brains.Though I experience this often,I never bothered to think why it happens.
remember my request to compile all this in pdf and present it to the moderator.
God bless you.

Oct 25 2012 (07:46)
Blog Post# 560538-71     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:09)
gradient start and end markers

Oct 25 2012 (09:38)
Blog Post# 560538-72     
दक्षिण मध्य रेल राही   Added by: moderator*^~  Oct 25 2012 (10:09)
picture of my brother capturing a train between Kodigehalli-LOGH, W/L, Sighting board and gradient indicator are seen in this to the left..
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