Main signal

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Signal aspects Form main signal
Hp 0: Stop
Hp 1: Travel
Hp 2: Slow travel
Form entry signal from Bf Fridingen (upper part) in the "Halt" position. The lower part is the pre-signal to the exit signal (2018)
48 ° 01'58.30 ″ N  008 ° 56′34.09 ″ E
Ks signal in Kinding station (Altmühltal) in the function of a main signal. Signal aspect: Halt (Hp 0)

A main signal (Hp) is a railway signal that indicates whether the adjoining track section may be used. Track sections in this sense are train heading sections . There can only be one train in each of them. Main signals on routes with a route block can only be brought into the running position if the next section of the train is free and, in addition, no further ( "hostile" ) journey into it is permitted at the same time . The main signal is announced to the driver in advance, either by a distant signal , the signal aspect of the main signal behind or by means of cab signaling- on branch lines also by signal boards .

Main signals are shape signals or light signals.

Main signals, depending on their function, are used as:

Entry signal
The entry signal is in front of a station on the border between this and the free line and indicates whether a train from a train trajectory section is allowed to enter a station track.
Exit signal
The exit signal is at the end of the station track and indicates whether a train is allowed to leave a station track on the free route (block section).
Intermediate signal
The intermediate signal is placed between the entry and exit signals in large areas of the station and indicates whether the next track section of the station can be used. In Switzerland, therefore, the correct name is track section signal .
Block signal
The block signal is on a track on the free route and indicates whether the following route section (block section) can be used. An automatic block signal monitors the block section and regulates the train sequence automatically: if the block section is occupied, it forbids further travel; if it is free, including the protective section behind the next signal, it is allowed.
Cover signal
The cover signal secures a danger spot on the open road, e.g. B. a moving bridge, a level crossing or a route crossing. It can also be a block signal. Main signals are relatively rare as cover signals.

The distinction is not possible (especially for the driver ) on the basis of the signal image or the signal designation, but results from the location in connection with route knowledge or the information in the book timetable .

The behavior at a stop-indicating or disturbed (also extinguished) main light signal is regulated by a mast sign . Its design and color have a fixed meaning.

A white-red-white post plate allows the passage of a train only to substitute signal , caution signal , opposite track drive replacement signal , written order or signal Zs 12 oral on (telephone) order.

Trains are allowed to pass a main signal marked with a white-yellow-white-yellow-white mast sign if it is not possible to communicate with the dispatcher after the stop. It is only allowed to drive on sight until the next main signal. In the IT area, it is a main signal with pre-signaling. This mast sign is only used on pure block signals that do not cover any moving track elements (switches). It is no longer used in new buildings.

For main signals with pre-signaling (»multi-section signal«) the rules for main signals and pre-signals must be applied accordingly. Such a main signal also contains the distant signal information for the following in the driving terms.

Signal aspects

Ks signal in Allersberg in the function of a main signal. Signal aspect: drive (Ks 1); the speed indicator allows a maximum of 100 km / h in the following switch area


In Germany there are different signal terms depending on the signal system used. Since July 1, 1991, they all have one thing in common: Hp 0 . It is also fundamentally true for all signaling systems since 1935 that the travel terms no longer indicate routes, but the permissible speed.

In the H / V signal system there are the signal aspects Hp 1 ( travel ) and Hp 2 ( slow travel ) . Light signals of this system, which are only available in the network of the former German Federal Railroad , show the night signals of the form signals even during the day. The system, which is also subject to the restrictions that apply to shape signals due to the design, is therefore limited to a few terms, is complex and no longer up-to-date. The restriction to only two speed levels can only be extended by additional signals that can be recognized much later in relation to the light points.

The Sv signal system was introduced in the mid-1920s especially for the conditions of urban rapid transit systems. It is a pure light signal system and combines the night signals of the HV system of main and distant signals on a signal screen. The left side of the signal screen represents the main signal aspect, the right the distant signal aspect for the following signal. The system was only used in the S-Bahn networks in Berlin and Hamburg . It is only still in operation in Hamburg.

There are also so-called multi - section signal systems , e.g. As widespread on the territory of the former Deutsche Reichsbahn and according to the specifications of the OSJD developed for a common traffic signal system HL or Ks signals . The latter are only available in electronic interlockings ; circuits for other interlocking designs have not been developed. While there are four speed levels in the HI signal system (40, 60, 100 km / h and line speed), the additional signals already known from the H / V system are used for speed signaling with Ks signals. A difference between the signal systems of the former two German state railways, which was only corrected after 2000, was that the concept of stop in the former German Federal Railroad did not apply to shunting trips. The resulting differences, such as the concept of stop on exit and intermediate digits with two red light points next to each other (Hp 00, stop for trains and shunting trips) can still be seen on old systems, but are now largely meaningless.

Two Eurobalises in fastenings reinforced to protect against damage on an ETCS stop board (instead of a main signal) on the Erfurt – Leipzig / Halle high-speed line

In Germany, the main signals are on average 2.7 kilometers apart (as of 2005). In Germany, main signals indicating stop were run over 470 times in 2014.

On the new Erfurt – Leipzig / Halle line that went into operation at the end of 2015 and is operated under ETCS Level 2 without signals, stationary main signals were dispensed with for the first time in Germany within a train control system . ETCS stop boards have been set up at these points to provide functional orientation for the train crew .


In Austria, it was not until the connection in 1938 that there was a changeover from route signaling to speed signaling. Germany also adopted the shape of the signal wings. But after the war, the development of the signaling system separated. After many points had been installed during the reconstruction, which could be driven at 60 km / h, in 1954 four-aspect signals were used. In contrast to the former Deutsche Bundesbahn, there has since been a separate signal concept for travel at 60 km / h. At that time, the advance signals based on the Swiss model were introduced. The three-aspect formal pre-signals were reduced to only two terms and thus a common announcement of travel at line speed and 40 km / h.

The main signal screen of the Austrian Federal Railways in the current version from 1980 and comparable to the Hl signal screens of the Deutsche Reichsbahn always has the same appearance, regardless of its function as an entry, exit, intermediate or block signal. The light points are arranged side by side in two columns, a maximum of three on the left and five on the right. Lanterns that are not required are left out. The main change in appearance compared to the main signal from 1954 is that the red light has been shifted from the second position at the top to the far left and that it can now be combined with a protection or shift signal. Only since 1980 has a “stop” at the main signal applied to the shunting service. The signal “No move- ment prohibited” has therefore been integrated into the main signal.

left side right side
white (protection / replacement)
or red (caution)
white (protection / displacement)

red (stop)
AT HS A.svg
green (free)
white (displacement)
green (departure)
yellow (free at 40 km / h)
green (free at 60 km / h)

The main signal can indicate the following four terms:

designation Signal aspect Light signal Shape signal designation Signal aspect Light signal Shape signal
Stop a red light;
a horizontal (and a vertical) signal wing for the shape signal.
AT HS A 0.svg
Hp0 Form.svg
Free a green light;
with the form signal a diagonal signal wing to the top right.
AT HS A 1.svg
Hp1 Form.svg
Free at 60 km / h a green light, including a green light.
AT HS A 2.svg
Free at 40 km / h a green light, including a yellow light;
with the form signal two diagonal signal wings one below the other to the top right.
AT HS A 3.svg
Hp2 Form.svg

Each mast has a white-red-white mast sign, with hanging signals this is attached to the signal screen between the lamps.

See main article Railway signals in Austria


The Swiss Federal Railways and the other railways in Switzerland also have different signal systems. The light signals of system L are rectangular and represent the speed with colored dots. With the newer system N, whose main signals are circular and only have 3 lamps, this is done with additional digits. System L represents six terms, the analogies of which to system N are listed in the table below. However, in system N, no more numbered driving terms are used, as is still the case with system L.

term Light signal system L Light signal system N Shape signal
Stop a red light 2. from above a red light above A reflective signal arm points horizontally to the right
Free travel (term 1) a green light above a green light at the bottom right A reflective signal arm points upwards at an angle to the right
Free at 40 km / h (driving term 2) a green light at the very top in the middle an orange light a green light at the bottom right and a yellow “4” below Two reflective signal arms point upwards at an angle to the right
Free at 60 km / h (driving term 3) two green lights one below the other a green light at the bottom right and a yellow “6” below -
Free at 90 km / h (driving term 5) three green lights one below the other a green light at the bottom right and a yellow “9” below -
Short drive (40 km / h) (driving term 6) two orange lights one below the other an orange light at the bottom left and a flashing orange “-” underneath -

See main article Railway signals in Switzerland


Individual evidence

  1. Ril 301, module 301.0002, section 8, paragraph 1
  2. Ril 301, module 301.0002, section 8, paragraph 1
  3. The Regional Court of Munich II saw it differently in 1997: Erich Preuss , Signals German Railways, transpress, Stuttgart 1998, p. 15.
  4. Ulrich Maschek: Driving past signals indicating stop . In: Your train . No. 2 , 2016, ISSN  0948-7263 , p. 28-33 .
  5. Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (Ed.): Report of the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt according to Article 18 of the Directive on Railway Safety in the Community (Directive 2004/49 / EC, "Safety Directive") on the activities as a safety authority: reporting year 2014 . September 15, 2015, p. 9 ( PDF file ). PDF file ( Memento of the original from February 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /