Train supervision

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Order to close doors and exit signal

The train supervision is also simply: Supervision (Aufs), abbreviation AB for "supervisory officer" at the Deutsche Bundesbahn , is a term used in railway operations . It describes both the railway staff entrusted with this task and the task itself.


The train supervisor determines that a train is ready to depart . The employee who is entrusted with this issues the removal order . Basically, train supervision in Germany is the responsibility of the train driver , in the case of trains without a special train driver , the train driver , who is then also the train driver.

Train supervisor (employee)

Local supervision

At some large passenger stations, train supervision is carried out by a local supervisor (formerly: "supervisory officer"), who can be recognized by the red cap. The red cap of the local train supervisor - the " Weber cap" - is due to Max Maria von Weber . It is used to clearly indicate to everyone involved who is in charge and who is allowed to issue the shutdown order, i.e. to prevent errors in communication .

The train supervisor can also give the order to close the doors with the light signal Zp 10 attached to the exit or intermediate signal or, on S-Bahn trains, with a white “T” in the light signal Zp 9 .

Railway stations with local supervision are located in Mannheim Hbf, Frankfurt (M) Hbf, Berlin Hbf (Stadtbahn) only for DB long-distance traffic, Hamburg Hbf, Stuttgart Hbf, Cologne Hbf, Munich Hbf and from September 2020 in Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. In addition, there are local supervision at the highly frequented access points at the S-Bahn in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin.

Train driver as train supervisor

Train supervision Reichsbahn 1951: departure signal
The train driver of an IC gives the departure signal

If the driver is also the train driver, he is in charge of the train supervision, and if there is a conductor , the conductor gives the warning whistle. If the driver operates a door locking system centrally from the driver's cab (in the SAT check-in procedure, close with the central one), the signal Zp10 or a raised arm is instructed to close the doors. In this case, the closing of the doors must be announced by an announcement in the train. The announcement of the door closing does not take place if the travelers are warned of the closing with so-called "warning beeps" on the doors.

Train supervision (task)

Before the outside doors are closed, the train supervisor presses the announcement, if applicable, and then the train supervisor gives a warning whistle. After closing the outer doors, the train driver and conductor make sure that the outer doors are closed and that no people or objects are trapped. The train conductors report this to the train driver by lifting up the orange-colored train conductor reporting disc , which is a white light in the dark . If there is local supervision, the train driver reports readiness to depart, verbally or with a raised arm, to the local supervision.

The prerequisite for issuing the departure order is that the train is ready to depart and the dispatcher has approved the departure at stations , usually by setting the relevant main signal to the driving position. The train supervisor issues the train driver with the departure order with the departure signal Zp 9. It is carried out with the command staff or, if available, with the light signal Zp 9 installed on the exit or intermediate signal or verbally (with the order: "Train xy, depart!") given.

Before departure, the train staff observes what is happening on the train to support the supervision. If necessary, the driver can check out the side window of the platform to ensure that there are no irregularities on the train during departure. The train driver and conductor get on immediately before departure, watch the departing train and then close the entrance door.

Train supervision during the times of the Deutsche Bundesbahn

The "supervisory officer" (abbr .: Aufsb) supervised the events "around rail operations", "but not for rail operations itself", for which the dispatcher (Fdl) was / is responsible. The passenger service regulation (FV) of the Federal Railroad from 1972, Section 7, Paragraph 7 clarifies: "At larger stations , certain tasks of the dispatcher can be assigned to a local supervisory officer (station book)". The duties of the supervisory officers were therefore varied and, of course, different depending on the location.

The dispatcher is always solely responsible for rail operations ; he is responsible for regulating train operations. The Dispatcher is, as well as supervision, no official level , but a service with a time limit, so basically a " layer ". This ends in time with the office hours or the service delivery. At each train station there was / is (usually) only one dispatcher (on one shift). The reason for this is the safety function: The dispatcher is the sole "commanding officer": At his behest, work is carried out in the signal box (s), he alone makes the train reports with his counterpart, the neighboring dispatcher, the adjacent train reporting point . This is solely for the sake of safety according to the motto: Less involved people make fewer mistakes!

At very large passenger stations there were supervisors for each platform; H. usually two tracks (whereby one employee could alternately operate several platforms and had to walk accordingly). The supervisor had to be on site for the arrival and departure of the trains, if possible when passing through for train observation. For these employees, rooms were provided on the platforms that also had connections to the platform loudspeakers so that the supervision could make announcements here. In this activity on the platform, the red service cap was mandatory. They were also responsible as contact persons for “customer service around the clock”. In addition, the supervisory officers predominantly ruled over the level entrances to the platforms (if there were no underpasses), for which driving on the platform tracks and passenger entry and exit made it a special "clearance procedure". Here he was responsible for security.
If there was local supervision, this could U. previously sent the request for the train to the dispatcher and received the confirmation. This was communicated to the train driver . The supervisor whistled, the train driver keyed and closed the doors, then he took the completion message from his train conductor and checked in his section whether the doors were closed, then he reported the train to the supervisor as " ready " (with raised arm). The departure order was then issued (during the day by lifting the green-framed circular board Zp 9 ), if possible for the “jump of the second hand ”, which used to be the epitome of what was happening at the stations. Before that, the announcement was switched on by key and push of a button, if available:
On the platform ... please get on, close the doors (automatically), be careful when leaving! Then the command staff was shown and then, among other things, the train indicator on the platform was deleted. An advantage compared to today, where the train destination displays often stay there for a long time. If the "supervisor" did not have time, e.g. If, for example, several trains were to leave their area at the same time due to a delay or other trains were more important, the announcement came train staff ..., please take over the train supervision!

At smaller train stations, the “supervision” and the “driver service” were often linked in personal union, but they are two activities that formally have nothing to do with each other. The dispatcher did not wear a red cap on the Bundesbahn, only the supervisory officer (Section 7 (10) of the 1972 FV). The supervisor also wore the red cap when he was not supervising the train. At small stations where train supervision was carried out in personal union with the dispatcher (e.g. stations without an exit signal), the dispatcher had to wear a red cap to dispatch trains according to the regulations. On these routes, this identification mark was insignificant for the local staff because the employees knew each other, but was used as an identification mark for the "external" train drivers, men and train drivers (which were still in the freight train service at that time) who did not regularly drive the routes meaning it in the original sense. For example, it was easy for a freight train driver to find a place where he could hand in his accompanying documents.

In no case can one speak of a “personal union” of supervision / control: if so, then vice versa. Both are so-called service titles. Each station is operationally subordinate to (at least) one Fdl. If the Fdl simultaneously exercised the activities of a supervisory officer and / or ticket seller, his job title was always dispatcher. In other words: there is and there was no such thing as a supervisory officer who also operates a Fdl signal box. It is a Fdl who is also an inspector. If the activities were carried out by different people, the Fdl was the direct superior of the supervisory officer - that is, the Fdl was authorized to (operationally) issue instructions to the supervisory officer.

At many train stations where the signal box operator could not overlook the entrance and stop of a train because of the platform roofs or the curvature of the track, the supervisory officer opened the entry roads with key buttons.

For the duty as a supervisor you usually had to be checked as a dispatcher, because he was included in the shift schedule (usually always 6-week plans) of the signal boxes. Except at very large train stations, where there was really “only” supervision, but all of them had to be fit for duty. At the Bundesbahn, supervisory officers and dispatchers had the same training, i. H. These posts belonged to the middle service and everyone who had passed the federal railway assistant examination (in general service) could be employed here. After a briefing period, dispatchers had to pass a local usage test at every signal box where they performed their duties independently, during which the station manager of the station or his deputy determined in an oral examination whether the dispatcher was also familiar with the local features (e.g. station book) was really familiar. As long as a supervisory officer had not yet passed a briefing and local application test, he could be used as a supervisory officer or train detector, but not as a dispatcher. Otherwise, this used to work in turn in these areas, for example: At a train station with a mechanical control room interlocking, mechanical guard interlocking and supervision at the station (on the platforms), the employee did rolling in the control interlocking, then in the guard interlocking and then as a supervisory service. In addition, the supervisor was often stopgap in the event of short-term illnesses or accidents, which the dispatcher was happy to fall back on in an emergency.

Supervisors were also used in passenger train, passenger train formation, shunting / shunting / freight stations. In the shunting service, where primarily train formation, train reshuffle and coach services were to be performed, there was what is known as "shunting supervision" at larger stations; she was responsible for the smooth and timely flow of the shunting service, which was carried out by the shunting ladder and shunter and the (Klein ) Train drivers. It goes without saying that there was a lot of paperwork to do in these areas.

In the freight yard area, the supervisors were responsible for coordinating the individual shunting processes, namely for breaking up and forming the freight trains. For this purpose, they usually dispatched one or more shunting locomotives with the corresponding shifting staff columns in their "supervisory district". The wagon inspection service and train handling (papers, brakes, attaching the train, determining that the train is ready to depart and reporting to the dispatcher etc.)

At the train formation stations, the supervisors monitored the shunters, train preparers, etc. Often the supervisor also had the task of writing down trains and making reservations.

Puttgarden can be seen as a special case : there the supervisor had to carry out the tasks of passenger coach service and the loading of the ships. In the case of road vehicles, this meant sorting the vehicles by size (height) and guiding them to the correct deck. In the case of rail vehicles, the number / track length of the ship's crew was communicated, as well as the reserved large vehicles (trucks, buses). The remaining meters of usable length were then filled by the supervisor with buses, trucks or vehicles with excessive height (mobile homes). In the mid-1980s, FS Germany, Carl Carstens, Theodor Heuss (only trucks / freight wagons), Dronning Margarethe, Danmark, Kong Frederik and Prins Henrik were in action in Puttgarden. In each direction, an average of 500 to 600 freight wagons were transported per day (in summer there were fewer), around 11 passenger trains per direction and road traffic.

At the Bundesbahn, supervision was subject to the obligation to wear "uniforms". Anyone who was “required to wear uniforms” was registered by the department at the clothing cash desk in order to purchase uniforms there at a reduced price. The red cap of the supervisory officer could not be bought at the clothing checkout, it was handed over by the device manager of the department to the employees who work regularly or as a substitute in the supervisory service. These hats were worn without a cord (but there were exceptions) and have always been very popular with collectors. According to the regulation, every supervisory officer had to be recognizable by a red service cap, regardless of where his field of activity was. It may be that there were train stations in which the wearing of the red service cap was handled quite loosely because there was no “audience”. It was mandatory to wear the hat in any case. It was partly allowed / tolerated that supervision in train stations without public traffic e.g. B. wore shunting clothes, in contrast to the colleagues in the passenger stations, who had to wear uniform. In some cases, the employees in this position were not given any red caps by the device administrator at these stations. At least in the last third of the Bundesbahn's time, things were sometimes quite easy in some stations without public traffic.
In large train stations it used to be the case in many places that prospective dispatchers - before their on-site briefing at the signal box - first had to do supervisory work. Training as a "bass" (Federal Railway Assistant) in the entire middle service was introduced relatively late. Until the 1960s, however, there were still civil servants trained as "operations supervisors" in the signal boxes. The supervision (especially at marshalling yards), on the other hand, was often in the simple service of the operations supervisor (mostly grade A4). Except for the very large stations, supervisors at passenger stations were mostly assessed in the entrance office A 5 of the middle service.

Supervision in Hungary

In Hungary , almost every train station still has its own supervision. She is wearing a red cap with a gold stripe.

A Hungarian supervisor observes the passage of an express train in the Csajág station

Sequence of the shutdown order at MÁV and GySEV

When the exit signal is set to "Drive" and the departure time is approaching, the supervisor stands at the level of the driver's cab in which the engine driver is sitting, whistles once and holds the command staff across the train. If train conductors are present and everything is in order on their car or in their area, they now hold their hand up before boarding. When the train driver has seen that all train conductors are ready, he now shows the supervisor his small departure signal. If there is no driver on the train, the driver has the departure signal and shows the supervisor that the train is ready to depart, which is extremely rare. Then the supervisor moves the command staff up and down to the engine driver until the train starts moving.

At smaller stops, which are usually not supervised, the departure order is given directly from the train driver to the train driver.

To the history of the "red hat"

Supervision of the Deutsche Reichsbahn with colleagues

If you go back to the early days of the railroad , then the first "Little Red Riding Hoods" were the station masters (to use an understandable term from today). In the early days of the railway system, the actual names differed from region to region. The red cap of the local train supervisor - the " Weber cap" - can be traced back to Max Maria von Weber .

In the early days, the red-capped man was really responsible for the entire process in the station, as far as the operations were concerned. Something like this could still be found at small train stations until the end of the 20th century, where the signal box was on the ground floor and the dispatcher had to provide train supervision at the same time.

With the increase in traffic and the resulting growth in the track systems and the establishment of signal boxes, it can then become the expression of pure supervision.

FV of the Prussian State Railroad of 1907, § 9 among others: "The supervisory officer is also the dispatcher if no special officer is appointed for the dispatcher." On the arrival, passage or departure of trains, the supervisory officer, unless he is the dispatcher through the Regulating the sequence of trains is demonstrably prevented from being present in uniform or with the mandatory service badge - an orange service cap. "

In the driver service regulation of 1944, Section 9 (3), it is stated that “the supervisory officer should be present when trains arrive, pass through or depart, unless, as the dispatcher, the control of the train sequence can be proven to prevent them from doing so. He wears the 'red cap' even if the train driver is on duty. "

At least the Deutsche Reichsbahn has only known the term dispatcher since around 1905. In the past there was talk of the “station officer on duty” who was in charge of “train supervision”. So the “supervisor” is the older term. The red cap, as a sign of the importance of his function, was reserved for him. So it is logical to give the red cap to the supervisory authority. The division of the two functions was largely dependent on the location and was not stipulated uniformly. The main reason was probably the introduction of the separate interlocking rooms, which could no longer guarantee the apparent presence of a station officer on duty "on site". From then on, the dispatcher controlled the train movements in the signal box and, if necessary, the communication with the guard signal boxes, while “outside” the supervisory officer on the platform (with a red cap) went into action.

On April 15, 1850, the "Regulations for the Uniforms of State Railway Officials" were issued in Prussia. The execution of the "service uniform", the badges of rank and the other accessories for the service classes from the railway director down to the stoker is precisely defined therein. In 1862 a change was made to the "orange-colored headgear for the station officials entrusted with external operations management". After the nationalization of the private railways in Prussia, new "Regulations on gala clothing and uniforms as well as the badges of the staff of the state railway administration" were issued in 1890. This made the cap mandatory for station officials at every train station.

In the essay "Schule des Eisenbahnwesens" from 1885 by Max Maria von Weber , published in Leipzig, it is stated that the red cap of the station board is not missing on very few railways.

According to the regulations for the uniform badge of the Prussian State Railways in 1874, in addition to the station supervisor, the supervisors and assistants when performing their "external service" wore the orange cap.

In Austria, the regulation of the Ministry of Railways of July 16, 1897 (Z. 9556/1) laid down a new regulation for the uniforms of civil servants, civil servants aspiring civil servants, sub-civil servants and servants, applicable to both state and private railways. It was stipulated for all railways that the officer responsible for station duty should be identified by a red cap.

The official clothing regulations of the royal Württemberg State Railways of January 31, 1907 stated that the dispatchers wear the red service cap.

The dress code of the Saxon State Railways of January 1, 1910 states that the uniforms - apart from the red service cap - passed into the property of the officials after they were taken over. The red cap was to be returned. With the nationalization or takeover of the Länderbahn in 1924 by the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft , a new uniform was finally created in May 1924, which brought the "red cap" uniformly to German train stations.


  • Hans-Joachim Kirsche: supervision. In: Lexicon of the Railway. 5th edition. Berlin 1978, p. 56.


  1. This supervision is also colloquially called "Little Red Riding Hood" ( mentioned on the Hamburg S-Bahn website).
  2. The warning whistle is often wrongly interpreted by the public as a departure signal, but in addition to its importance as an order to close doors, it is intended to draw the attention of everyone involved, employees of the railway as well as people on the train and on the platform , to the imminent departure.

Individual evidence

  1. See Signal Zp 10. In: Signalbuch-Online. on:
  2. ^ DB literature: We. 12/1978, p. 6; Focus on DB. 8/1987, p. 1; Focus on DB. 11/1991, p. 3; We. 8/1987, p. 1; We. 4/1991, p. 1; Go free. 10/1991, p. 5; Impeller. 1/1970; Uniform regulations (DKV) DV 110. April 1, 1978; Uniform Rules (DKO). from January 1, 1939; German Federal Railroad DV 110. 1968; Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 93.
  3. Hans Pottgießer: Safe on rails, questions about the safety strategy of the railway from 1825 until today. Birkhäuser Verlag, 1988, ISBN 3-7643-1992-5 .
  4. Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 21.
  5. Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 22.
  6. Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 24.
  8. Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 26.
  9. Günther Henneking, Wolfgang Koch: The uniforms of the German railway worker. Eisenbahnkurier-Verlag, 1980, ISBN 3-88255-825-3 , p. 61.