Standard code of locomotive whistle signals, introduced 1952

Description Whistles


Approaching signals at danger or when necessary to indicate when ready to proceed on same line:

Main or fast lines 1 long
Line next to main line (slow or goods) 2 long
Line next to slow or goods 3 long

(One additional long whistle to be given for each additional line farther away from the main line)

Approaching junctions and requiring to proceed through junction:

*On main line and requiring to proceed to left 1 long 1 short
*On main line and requiring to proceed to right 1 long 2 short
*On slow or goods line and requiring to proceed to the left 2 long 1 short
*On slow or goods line and requiring to proceed to the right 2 long 2 short

*These codes to be given at signalbox in rear of the box controlling the junction, unless otherwise shown

To or from goods line or slow line or loop and main line 5 short
To cross from main to main 4 short
To or from bay or platform lines 1 crow 1 long
Down main or fast, slow or goods or loop to down sidings 1 crow
Down main or fast, slow or goods or loop to up sidings 2 short pause 3 short
Up main or fast, slow or goods or loop to up sidings 3 short pause 1 short
Up main or fast, slow or goods or loop to down sidings 3 short pause 2 short
Up sidings to down sidings or vice versa 3 short pause 3 short
Train ready to leave sidings 2 short pause 1 short
Shunt from sidings to main line 2 short pause 2 short
To or from locomotive depot 2 short
Express trains requiring fresh engine at next stopping place 3 crows
§Fire on lineside 1 crow 1 long 1 crow

§ To be repeated when passing next permanent way men, station, signalbox or crossing keeper's hut

Engine requiring water 1 long pause

3 short

To indicate light engine is clear of points which required to be turned 1 short
To indicate that train or light engine has been shunted clear of points leading from one running line to another 1 crow 1 short
To indicate that train or light engine has been shunted clear of all running lines 3 short
Before starting train assisted by engine in rear 2 crows

Note: The term 'slow line' includes relief line.

Additional codes of a local nature were retained by the Regions.

Standard system of gong/whistle signals given to drivers in shunting yards

Go ahead 1 beat or blast
Set back 2 beats or blasts
Stop 3 beats or blasts
Ease couplings 4 beats or blasts


Standard two-way bell communication code used on diesel multiple units from their introduction

Stop 1 beat
Start 2 beats
Set back 3 beats
Driver requires guard 3-3 beats
Slow down (used when propelling) 4 beats
Guard leaving train to obey rules 5 beats
Draw forward 6 beats


Clearing House rules relating to the duties of drivers and firemen.

The numbering of these rules is as applied over the period 1939-54 (Hodgson and others, 1939, 1954); the numbering by some companies may have varied from those quoted.

Rule No. Topic
2 public safety
4 punishment of misconduct
7 notices and working timetables, to whom supplied
9 unauthorised passengers on footplate
11, 126 servants not to expose themselves to danger
26 passenger train not to stop where not timed except…
27 passenger train booked to call only when required to take up passengers
31 engines of private owners
32 red light to be placed on buffer stops at terminal stations
34 fixed signals: distant, home, starting, shunting signals, etc
35 colours and lamps of 'danger', 'caution' and 'clear' signals
36 observance of distant signals
37 home signals
37(b), 38, 39 signals and verbal instructions
39(a), 39(c)and 41(b) trains brought to a stand at starting or advanced starting signals
40, 41 understanding of verbal instructions or communications
43 three-aspect semaphore signals and multi-aspect colour light signals
44 calling-on signals
44, 45, 55(g) and 197 starting signals not to be passed except...
46, 47 shunting signals
48 siding signals
50 hand signals using flags or lamps
51 arm signals
52 lamp signals in fog
53 lamps and flags to be held in hand, except when marking an obstruction, signalman must show hand signal outside the signalbox
54 actions to be taken when a driver is stopped by a hand Danger signal from a signalbox
55 train standing or on wrong line, driver to whistle, other communications to the signalman
55(a), 55(f) guard, shunter or fireman to go to signalbox (if a train is held at a signal more than two minutes (three before 1950)), sign the train register book and if necessary witness the lever collars put in place to protect his train.
57 supply of detonators
59, 60 how driver to react on explosion of detonator
68(ii), 96 station yard working
70 reversing of signals when two trains approach a junction at the same time
78, 81 defective home, starting, advanced starting, or siding signal, and duties of hand signalman
80 signals not in use: semaphore signals have 'X' affixed to the arms
82 signals imperfectly shown
91(b-f), 92 fog-signalling
94 fog-signalling in the absence of fogmen
97 station yard working when second train is following
104 hand signals from gatekeepers
108, 109 shunting operations. Driver not to move his engine during shunting until he has received hand signal from person in charge, although the fixed signal may be lowered
110(a-c) double shunting, loose shunting, propping, tow roping, and chaining
111(c) in case of a light engine unaccompanied by guard or shunter, driver to satisfy himself that points are in proper position
117 audible signals in shunting operations (see this file)
119, 120(a) tail, side and head lights after sunset and in foggy weather or falling snow
122 engine tail-lamps
123 shunting engines
124 specials following
126(i) time of attendance, engine to be in proper order
126(ii) notices to be examined before commencing duty
126(iii) coal, etc., to be safely placed on tenders and bunkers
126(iv) driver and fireman not to leave engine
126(v) smoke from engines


sound whistle to warn men on line and in tunnels. Not to throw out hot water or cinders in tunnel
126(viii), 143 driver to satisfy himself that proper signals are lowered, engine driver and fireman must look back to see that the whole of the train is following in a proper manner
127(i) articles to be taken: not less than 12 detonators and 2 red flags
127(ii) engine destination boards, discs, and lamps to be in good order
127(iii) when driver is not acquainted with line
127(iv) speed to be reduced in foggy weather or during falling snow if fixed signals are not visible
127(iv, xvii) driver to observe and obey signals
127(v), 128, engine driver to keep a good look out
127(vi) train or engine obscured by steam or smoke to be approached cautiously
127(viii) junction whistles, fireman to look out*
127(ix) not to move train towards starting signal until lowered
127(x) hose of water tanks and columns to be properly secured
127(xi) engine not to foul running line without permission and proper signals
127(xii) engine not to stand foul of points or crossings
127(xiii) driver to regulate speed
127(xiv) speed of trains when passing through junction points and crossings
127(xxii) driver to exercise caution and to stop if fixed or hand signals cannot be seen
127(xviii, xix) to start and stop with care. Run on proper line. Stopping of train
127(xxi) platelayers' signals to reduce speed
129(vii), 131(ii), 148(c,d) guards to apply hand brake when necessary
132 engine not to be in motion on running line without driver and fireman on it
133(a-d) assistant engine not to leave train except at signal box. Goods train assisted by engine in rear. Starting of trains with one engine in front and one in rear, etc
135 train drawn by two engines. Leading driver responsible for observation of signals. Driver of second engine not relieved of responsibility
136 when a passenger train over-runs or stops short of platform
137(a,b) catch points
138 engine driver to assist in forming train
141, 142(d) hand signals for starting passenger or goods trains
144 goods trains timed to stop when required
148(e) means adopted by driver to attract guard's attention where continuous brakes are not in use. When driver requires assistance of guard's brake, he must give three or more sharp whistles
149 cases authorised in which an engine may push its train upon a running line
152 red headlight to be shown when crossed to running line and tail light removed
152(b) detaching engine from train standing on wrong line. Driver responsible for seeing that guard places red light on front vehicle before moving his engine
154 engine running round a goods train, to remove it from the running line
155(a,b) irregularity in working of signals. Cattle on line, etc
177, 219 accidents to be immediately reported
179(a) protection of train. Place one detonator at a ¼mi, one at ½mi, and three 10yds apart ¾mi from the obstruction and exhibit the hand danger signals while going along
179, 180 when both lines are obstructed
180(a) engine disabled
180(d) both lines obstructed and driver not aware of accident
181(a) place three detonators opposite signalbox, explain circumstances to signalman, and return to train unless necessary to take an assisting engine
182 train divided
183(a-k) train or portion of train left on running line from accident or failure of engine
  dividing goods train
  tail lamps
  two guards with train
  one guard with train
  engine returning on wrong line to rear portion
  train standing on running line owing to failure of engine or other causes
  fireman going for assistance
  driver not to pass signalbox without permission
184 train or portion of train passing for a short distance on wrong line in case of accidents
185 when moving in wrong direction
186, 195, 196 catch points. When a train is approaching catch points in a facing direction, the man at the points must, when they are right for the train to pass over them, give the driver a green all-right signal held steadily in the hand, the pilotman must also satisfy himself that the driver is aware of the position of the catch points
187 failure of, or accident to some part of a train
187(b) if engine defective
187(c) if rear guard does not apply brakes promptly
187(d,e) if continuous brake not in operation
188 vehicle on fire
189, 193 single line working by pilotman. The signalman at each end of the single line would advise the signalman in the rear, and the latter would stop each train proceeding in that direction and inform the driver of the circumstances. When worked as a single line a hand lamp should be placed outside the distant signal applicable to that line and three detonators placed on the rail for each approaching train. The pilotman, wearing a distinctive badge or red flag tied around his left arm, must be present and ride upon the engine unless two or more trains are going in the same direction, when he would order the trains to proceed and ride upon the last engine going in that direction
190, 191, 192 limit of single line working
194, 217 protection of running line in case of obstruction
197(a),(i-iv) drivers may pass signals on single line when so instructed by the pilotman
197(b) when block working is maintained the fixed signals at intermediate boxes must be worked for trains passing over the single line in both directions. When block working is suspended the fixed signals must be kept at danger and the signalman must hand-signal the driver past the signals when the line is clear for the train to proceed
202 no train must be allowed to enter upon the single line without the engine driver and the guard having been first informed by the pilotman that the single line is being worked and the points between which it is in operation
202(b) two or more trains following. Driver of each train following must be told by the pilotman how long the preceding train has been gone
204 speed of train on single line working. Trains must run cautiously and at reduced speed. Drivers must frequently use the engine whistle when passing through tunnels, or after sunset, in foggy weather, or during falling snow, a red headlight must also be carried
207 transfer of passengers when both lines are blocked
215 protection of trolley on running line
216(a-d) signals during relaying, etc
216, 235, 236 working of ballast trains. Entering and running through tunnels
218 reduction of speed for permanent-way work. Warning board with green and white light at night placed ½mi from the place to be protected for a lengthened period. Man out ½mi or farther if rendered necessary by circumstances of case with detonator, and green hand-signal for shorter periods. Where indicators are provided which are illuminated at night, the letter 'C' in black on a white blackground denotes the commencement of the speed restriction. The letter 'T' in white on a black background denotes the termination of the speed restriction