We often come across different railway symbols alongside railway tracks that serve different purposes for locomotive drivers and railway staff. Some symbols are very common and we know their meaning. But some of those Indian railway symbols are hard to understand. You start looking for the meaning of those railway track signboards. Here, we have compiled a detailed list of different signs and symbols at railway tracks. You will learn a lot about Indian Railways and how it uses different types of signboards to convey different types of messages.
Speed indicators at railway tracks are represented by a number on a triangular yellow board. The number denotes the speed limit of the train in that section in km/h. Trains can’t operate above that speed limit in the area where the signboard is placed.
A number on written on blue board. The number denotes the speed limit (in km/h) of for Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. The text is in white.
T/P signboard in Indian Railways denotes the termination of speed zone for passenger trains.
T/G signboard denotes the termination of the speed zone for goods trains.
The T sign written on a yellow board with black text is used to indicate the termination of the speed limit for all trains.
In urban areas, signs such as T/EMU, T/EMU-9, etc., may be seen. It denotes the termination of the speed limit for EMU rakes, EMU rakes with 9 coaches, respectively).
T/L signboard is used to denote the termination of the speed limit for local, i.e., suburban trains, usually EMU or DMU trains.
These are arrow-shaped railway line symbol represented on boards pointing to the left or right. These signboards indicate special restrictions on railway tracks including temporary or permanent engineering restrictions and caution orders in effect. You can know the direction in which the restriction applies to by seeing the pointed arrow.
The caution indicator is usually placed 700m before a speed indicator board and 800m before the actual point of the cause of restriction. Loco pilots have to operate the train as per the speed limit indicated on the speed restriction board in the area.
A simple ‘W’ on a square yellow board indicates ‘Whistle’. Train drivers are instructed to blow horn after seeing this board.
W/L signboard on railway tracks indicates ‘Whistle for a level crossing. It simply instructs train drivers to whistle as there is a level crossing ahead.
सी/फा is the Hindi translation of W/L. It means ‘seeti bajao/fatak’. This railway station symbol serves the same purpose as W/L but written in Hindi.
Caution Order for Tunnel
It is similar to caution indicators above but it is always placed at the entrance of a tunnel. C/T written on a yellow circular board with black text denotes ‘Caution/Tunnel ahead’.
These are generally ground-level signs placed on a concrete slab. The grade indicator signboard has a number and an upward or downward pointing arrow. The arrow indicates the direction of the grade and the number on the board denotes the total gradient.
In recent days, these signboards are often fitted to poles or catenary masts.
Shunting limit is indicated on a yellow rectangular board with a cross at the top and the words ‘Shunting Limit’ written on it. Sometimes, S/L is written on the shunting limit signboard to indicate the end of a shunting section. There is a hole above the cross mark which can be used to place a single white lamp.
This is usually provided at class ‘B’ stations on single-line sections (sometimes on double-line sections as well), where shunting is permitted on the block section and advanced starters are not provided.
Block limits signboard is represented by a square or rectangular yellow board with two intersecting black diagonal stripes and ‘Block Section Limit’ written on it. This signboard is for stations (usually class ‘B’) on double line sections in absolute block or automatic block territory. This railway station symbol indicates the fouling point of the rearmost trailing points connecting to the station.
Level Crossing Indicator
This signboard is represented by A black ‘L’ on a square yellow board which indicates the drivers that they are approaching a level crossing.
The most common stop indicator is a rectangular board with white and red bands on it. This indicator is mounted on a post with alternating red and white bands. At night the sign is illuminated by two red lamps. Trains can not go beyond the stop indicator.
Some stop indicators are used to mark the spot beyond which a locomotive must not proceed when a signal ahead is at danger. These include boards with ‘STOP’ spelt out in black on yellow, or rectangular yellow boards with ‘STOP’ written on them in black.
Power indicators are placed at railway tracks for the driver to increase the applied power (by moving the traction motors from parallel to series settings) in order to maintain booked speed. This train station symbol is represented on a yellow diamond-shaped board with letter ‘P’ written on it in black. This signboard is usually seen on suburban sections with EMU traffic.
Approach to flag station
This signboard is a pre-warning sign that advises the driver of a flag station or halt station coming up ahead. It is represented by a black dot or small disc in the centre of a square or rectangular (longer side vertical) whiteboard.
Advance Approach Warning System
These railway line symbol boards are provided on sections where trains run at a speed exceeding 120 KMPH except in Automatic signalling territory.
A high-speed approach warning board shall be provided at a distance of 1800 meters in the rear of the first stop signal (Outer or Home signal) /gate signal to warn the driver of a high-speed train that he is approaching the first stop signal/gate signal.
OHE masts are provided to identify the OHE structures (masts) in a particular kilometer and hence kilometer number is written as the numerator and mast number is written as the denominator, e.g. 450/15 as written on the picture above. These are represented by yellow letters on a blue background are painted. These signs are provided in electrified sections only. OHE masts are more useful because their visibility is more clear due to their height and fluorescence.
This train station symbol is one of the very first and most common signs available on Indian railways tracks. A series of these white or yellow-coloured stones are placed alongside tracks. Kilometer board denotes the distance from headquarters or nearest large railway station to that place where it is placed. It is carved and painted in black letters on it, somewhat similar to a milestone.
Passenger and Goods Train Warning Boards
These signboards are provided for passenger and goods trains to warn the driver that he is approaching the first stop signal.
Goods Warning board is located at 1400 meters will have a circle between two parallel lines and painted yellow on a blackboard.
The Passenger Warning board is located at 1000 meters is painted with yellow stripes diagonally on a blackboard.
Sigma board is an Indian railway signal symbol represented on a rectangular board which is dark blue in colour. Greek letter sigma is written in yellow fluorescent colour on it. This board is fixed at a distance of two OHE structure in the rear of any stop signal, where the signal is not properly visible because of thick foggy weather.
Visibility Test Object
The visibility test object is placed according to the Station Working Rules. Visibility test post is provided at all stations except where Station Working Rules earmark a particular signal or the light or backlight of a signal to serve as visibility test object.
Lower and Raised Panto
If due to any defect or damage to the overhead equipment it is necessary to lower pantographs over any particular section of the running lines. The concerned traction official communicates with the Traction Power Controller, who, in turn, will advise the Section Controller for arranging the issue of necessary Caution Orders by the Station Masters to the drivers.
DJ Open and Close Boards
These signboards are used for tripping of circuit breakers of locomotives and electrical multiple units at neutral sections.
Unless otherwise allowed by special instructions, the loco drivers coasts through the neutral section, duly switching off the power. Necessary indication boards to this effect are provided to guide the driver to switch off and switch on the power.
A yellow circular board of about 1m diameter, with an ‘S’ on it, indicates facing points for a siding. It instructs loco drivers to slow down to a speed below the normal sanctioned speed for the section.
Trackside pole markers
Telegraph or telephone poles, catenary masts, and other repeatedly occurring vertical structures usually have a distance indication painted on, of the form ’32/4′- this example indicates the 4th pole after the 32nd-kilometer mark. It is one of the most commonly used Indian railway signal symbols.
Calling on signal
A calling-on signal is used to allow a loco or train to move into a block section or a track within station limits, which is or may be already be occupied by another train or loco. This is done for the purposes of coupling of trains to enter station limits.
Refuge indicators in railways are those flat spaces made along the tracks (in the shape of squares) where inspection trolley, men and material can wait till the train passes from the track. It is denoted by a letter ‘R’ on a small yellow circular board.
Warning Indicators (Vulnerable Point Indicators)
A ‘P’ in a triangular or square board (black on yellow) advises the driver to be vigilant for track defects or obstructions on the track because of landslides, floods, etc.
An ‘E’ in a similar board marks the end of the track section for which such advice applies (usually this is the rear of the matching ‘P’ board for trains approaching from the other side).
A ‘V’ sign is often seen before entrances to tunnels or at other points in hilly terrain, etc., where there is a danger of landslides or rockfalls. It is also sometimes seen at the beginning of a bridge.
Hump signboard in Indian Railways is used to denote the upcoming sand hump for loco drivers. It is an emergency dead-end line covered with sand to take care of such emergencies only.
Railway crossing sign
This is a sign to advise drivers that there is a gap in the divider or the median ahead without there being any intersection. In simple words, the median is not continuous. This too is a cautionary sign to avoid road hazards as pedestrians and cyclists may use it to cross over.
This is a signboard to advise drivers that there is a manner crossing ahead.
We hope you liked the complete list of Indian railway signal symbols. These signs and symbols will come very handy for all train drivers but everyone should be aware of these.