3 Signs and signals

3.1 General

Various signals are of paramount importance for the safety of railroad and light rail traffic. The look and function of the signals differs between nations, and sometimes also differs within a nation depending on which company the line belongs to.

A motorman/engineer may, however, fail to obey a signal. Because of that, visible signals are often combined with automatic systems that will prevent accidents by slowing down or stopping the train if necessary. Such a system is the Japanese version of ATS, which can be simulated in BVE.

Signals in general can be divided into signal apparatus (commonly light signals), signal tools (such as a stop flag) and sign signals.

3.1.1 Light signals

Light signals are main signals, approach signals or shunt signals or a combination of these.

3.1.1.1 Main signals

Main signals show an aspect that may mean stop, proceed or proceed with caution/speed restriction. The meaning of the signal aspect is in effect from that place of the line where the signal is located.

Image of a main light signal aspect, showing 3 green lights above each other
Picture 1: Swedish main light signal aspect indicating Proceed at maximum 40 km/h, short route set

3.1.1.2 Distant signals

Approach signals, a.k.a. distant signals or relay signals, shows an aspect telling the aspect of a main signal ahead and beyond the approach signal. Distant signals are used at locations where the main signal can not be seen at necessary distance. That may be because of obstacles in the line-of-sight to that main signal, or at lines where trains may travel at such a speed that the main signal cannot be seen from the place where the train must start slowing down if the main signal shows stop/danger or another restriction.

Image of an approach light signal aspect showing 3 yellow lights in a row pointing 45 degrees
                     upwards to the right
Picture 2: Japanese approach light signal aspect indicating Next main signal shows a speed restriction

The aspect of an approach signal is always just a message of what aspect a main signal ahead shows. If the approach signal shows that the main signal ahead shows stop/danger, you should stop short of the main signal, not short of the approach signal.

3.1.1.3 Shunt signals

Shunt signals are often rather small and placed on/near the ground. Their signal aspects control shunting and such activities. They may, sometimes, also function as main signals. Shunt signals are rarely/never seen in BVE.

Image of a shunt signal aspect showing 2 white lights, one of them above and to the left of
                     the other light
Picture 3: Swedish shunt signal aspect indicating Shunt movement allowed, obstacles present

3.1.2 Sign signals

Sign signals are located by the track, never changing aspect.

Common sign signals are permissible speed indicators telling the maximum allowed speed, platform stop markers showing where trains should stop at stations or stops or signs telling where to sound the horn/whistle.

3.1.2.1 Permissible speed indicators

Regarding permissible speed indicators, it should be remembered that if it indicates a speed greater than before that sign, the whole train should pass the sign before the higher speed is applied.

3.1.2.2 Station stop signs

A station stop sign tells where a passenger train should stop if it should stop at a station allowing passengers to embark/debark the train. The purposes of these signs are that:

The simplest arrangement is when there is only one station stop sign for any train. Else there are two or more station stop signs that applies to:

The most common alternative in BVE is the 1st: Number of cars. Info on the number of cars in the simulated train is often displayed in the info shown when train is selected for the simulation, se chapter 2.2 Select line and vehicle, picture 4.

3.1.2.3 Stop signs

The function of stop signs is similar to the function of the station stop signs. The difference is that stop signs not mark locations for passengers to embark/disembark. Such locations may be where freight trains should stop or trains stop at storage tracks etc.

3.2 Japan

3.2.1 Light signals

Japanese light signals may be attached more than one to a mast. In this case, signals apply to tracks in the same order, as they are located on the pole.

3.2.1.1 Main signals

Table 1: Signal aspects for Japanese main light signals
Aspect Indication
Main light signal aspect showing one green light Proceed
Main light signal aspect showing a green light and below that a yellow light Proceed at maximum 75 km/h
Main light signal aspect showing one yellow light Proceed at maximum 55 km/h
Main light signal aspect showing 2 yellow lights above each other Proceed at maximum 25 km/h
Main light signal aspect showing one red light Stop!

3.2.1.2 Approach signals

Table 2: Signal aspects for Japanese approach signals
Aspect Indication
Approach signal aspect showing 3 yellow lights abobe each other Next main signal indication is Proceed
Approach signal aspect showing 3 yellow lights in a row pointing 45 degrees
                             upwards to the right Next main signal indication is a speed restriction
(75, 55 or 25 km/h)
Approach signal aspect showing 3 yellow lights in a horizontal row Next main signal indication is Stop!
Grade crossing approach signal aspect showing one white flashing light Next grade crossing signal indication is Movement allowed
Grade crossing approach signal aspect showing 2 alternatively flashing yellow lights,
                             one above and to the left of the other Next grade crossing signal indication is Stop!

3.2.1.3 Other light signals

Table 3: Aspects of other Japanese light signals
Aspect Indication
Grade crossing signal aspect showing one flashing white light Movement allowed (grade crossing signal)
Grade crossing signal aspect showing 2 red lights, on of them above and to the left
                             of the other Stop! (grade crossing signal)

3.2.2 Sign signals

3.2.2.1 Permissible speed indicators

Table 4: Japanese permissible speed indicators
Aspect Indication
White sign signal with the numbers 75 in black Maximum speed 75 km/h
White sign signal with the numbers 25 in black and black triangles in the
                             left corners Maximum speed 25 km/h at the track to the left
White sign signal with the numbers 35 in black and black triangles in the right
                             corners Maximum speed 35 km/h at the track to the right
Signal sign diagonally divided into 4 triangular fields, the right and left of which
                             are white and the top and bottom of which are black No speed limit at the track. Maximum speed for the vehicles in the consist applies
Triangular sign signalt with 3 black triangles on white bottom, under it a smaller
                             white sign with the numbers 70 in black Temporary speed restriction of 70 km/h follows
Circular orange sign signal with white border, under it a smaller white sign with
                             the numbers 70 in black Temporary speed restriction, maximum speed 70 km/h
Circular green sign signal with white border End of temporary speed restriction (previously by light signal or sign signal signaled maximum speed applies)

3.2.2.2 Station stop signs

Table 5: Japanese station stop signs
Aspect Indication
White diamond shaped sign with orange border Stop position for all trains
White diamond shaped sign with green border and the number 4 in black White diamond shaped sign with yellow border and the number 6 in black White diamond shaped sign with red border and the number 8 in black
White diamond shaped sign with dark grey border and the number 9 in black White diamond shaped sign with dark green border and the number 10 in black White diamond shaped sign with blue border and the number 11 in black
White diamond shaped sign with orange border and the number 15 in black White sign with the number 8 in red
Stop position for trains with the number of cars stated on the sign

3.2.2.3 Other sign signals

Table 6: Other Japanese sign signals
Aspect Indication
Yellow sign with the text ATS-P plus Japanes characters in black Beginning of line using ATS-P
Yellow sign with red border and Japanese characters in black Name of next station

3.3 USA

3.3.1 New York Subway

The New York subway was previously owned by 3 companies each of them with its own line network and to some extent different signal systems. Because of this, there are still 2 somewhat different sets of signal aspects in use in the New York subway.

Those who have created New York subway lines for BVE have had different ambitions in making the signals in those routes looking as in the real subway. Do not be surprised if you in some of these routes find signals following not any of the New York signal systems but rather the Japanese signal system (see chapter 3.2 Japan).

3.3.1.1 Light signals

3.3.1.1.1 Main signals

There are 2 kinds of main signals: Those who are at locations where it is, at least, one turnout making it possible to proceed into different routes. The other kind of main signals are found at all other locations.

The light signals at locations with more than one possible route to proceed at are in most cases made of 2 1/2 signal heads above each other:

The bottom signal head has only one light (yellow). This part of the signal is rarely found in BVE, and if it is there, it is never lit. Because of this, that bottom signal head and aspects where it is showing a yellow light, are omitted from the tables below.

Table 7: Most common type of main light signals in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
Main light signal aspect showing one green light Proceed
Mail light signal aspect showing one yellow light Proceed; be prepared to stop short of nest main signal
Main light signal aspect showing one red light Stop!
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, each signal head showing one green
                             light Proceed at the main route
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the top signal showing one green light
                             and the lower signal head showing one wellow light Proceed at a diverging route
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the top signal showing one yellow light
                             and the lower signal head showing one green light Proceed at the main route; be prepared to stop short of next main signal
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, each of the showing one yellow
                        light Proceed at a diverging route; be prepared to stop short of next main signal
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, each of the showing one red light Stop!

On some lines in the New York subway, which once in a time belonged to the company IRT another set of signal aspects are used at locations with more than one possible route to proceed at. The main signal is made of 2 signal heads above each other. The top signal head signals the main route, the bottom signal head signals the diverging route.

Table 8: Main light signals that may be used at lines in the New York subway that once in a time belonged to the company IRT
Aspect Indication
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the upper signal showing one green
                             light, the lower signal showing one red light Proceed at the main route
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the upper signal showing one red
                             light, the lower signal showing one green light Proceed at a diverging route
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the upper signal showing one yellow
                             light, the lower signal showing one red light Proceed at the main route; be prepared to stop short of next main signal
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, the upper signal showing one red
                             light, the lower signal showing one yellow light Proceed at a diverging route; be prepared to stop short of next main signal
Main light signal aspect with 2 signal heads, each of them showing one red
                             light Stop!
3.3.1.1.2 Other light signals

Table 9: Other light signals in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
Light signal aspect showing 2 red lights above each other Stop! This kind of signal never shows any other aspect

3.3.1.2 Sign signals

3.3.1.2.1 Permissible speed indicators

Permissible speed indicators indicate speed in mph. For some reason, some of the trains in BVE for the New York subway have speedometer indication in km/h.

Table 10: Permissible speed indicators in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
Yellow sign with the text 35 MILES in black Permissible speed 35 mph
Yellow sign with the text D 20 in black Permissible speed 35 mph at the diverging track
Yellow sign with the text GT 15 in black Permissible speed 15 mph, if exceeded next main signal or the main signal after the next, will indicate stop. Should a train occupy the track just beyond any of these signals, the will show stop even if the permissible speed is not exceeded.
Yellow sign with the text ST 15 in black If next main signal is indicating stop, proceed at no more than 15 mph. If not exceeded, that main signal will change aspect to yellow. If this happens be prepared to stop short of a train occupying the track beyond that yellow main signal.
Yellow signa with the letter T in black If next main signal is indication stop and under that signal are lit a number indicator, proceed from the T-sign a no more than the speed in mph indicated by the lit number indicator. If not exceeded, that main signal will change aspect to yellow. If this happens be prepared to stop short of a train occupying the track beyond that yellow main signal.
Green sign with the letter R in white End of speed restriction. The lowest of either the permissible speed for the vehicles in the train or a general permissible speed for the line applies.
Green sign with the text R 2 in white Green sign with the text R 10 in white End of speed restriction. Trains with the number of cars (or a less numbers of cars) indicated at the sign may from the location of the sign increase its speed to the lowest of either the permissible speed for the vehicles in the train or a general permissible speed for the line.
3.3.1.2.2 Station stop signs and stop signs

Table 11a: Station stop signs in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
White sign with the letter S in black Stop position for all trains
Yellow sign with black border and the text OPTO S in black Stop position for all trains operated by the motorman alone (no conductor). OPTO is an abbreviation of One Person Train Operation
Black sign with the number 2 in white White sign with the number 4 in black White sign with the number 6 in black Black sign with the number 6 in white Black sign with the numbers 10 in white White sign with the numbers 10 in black White sign with the numbers 10 in black, under that number a black horizontal line
                              and below that line the numbers 11 in black Whit sign with the number 8 in black, under that number a black horizontal line
                              and below that line the numbers 10 in black Stop position for trains with the number of cars indicated on the sign

Table 11b: Stop signs in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
White sign with the text 2 CAR in black White sign with the text 4 CAR in black White sign with the text 8 CAR in black White sign with the text 16 CAR in black White sign with the text 32 CAR in black Stop position for trains with the number of cars indicated at the sign at other locations than station platforms (such as storage and lay-up tracks).
3.3.1.2.3 Other sign signals

Table 12: Other sign signals in the New York subway
Aspect Indication
Yellow sign with the text NO KEY BY in black Below a light signal: Not possible, even at lowest speed, to proceed beyond this signal while it is indicating stop.
Yellow sign with the text Change Radio Channel B2 in black Switch train radio channel to the channel indicated on the sign (in this case radio channel B2)

3.3.2 Railway lines

3.3.2.1 Light signals

American light signals may be made of 2 signal heads on the same mast, one above the other. In this case, the top signal signals the main route and the bottom signal signals a diverging route. This configuration with 2 signal heads may also be used for exit signals.

3.3.2.1.1 Main signals

Table 13: American main light signals
Aspect Indication
Main light signal aspect showing one green light Proceed
Main light signal aspect showing one yellow light Proceed at maximum 55 km/h, be prepared that next main signal indicates stop
Main light signal aspect showing one red light Stop!

3.3.2.2 Sign signals

3.3.2.2.1 Permissible speed indicators

Table 14: American permissible speed indicators
Aspect Indication
White sign with black border and the numbers 80 in black Permissible speed 80 mph
Red sign with black border an the text YARD SPEED 15 in white Yard: Use the bell while moving, permissible speed 15 mph
3.3.2.2.2 Stop signs

Table 15: American stop signs
Aspect Indication
Red sign with the text TRAIN STOP in white Stop position for all trains
3.3.2.2.3 Other sign signals

Table 16: Other American sign signals
Aspect Indication
White sign with black border and the letter W in black Sound the horn before a grade crossing: 2 long sounds, one short sound and a long sign prolonged until the train is in the grade crossing
White sign with the text YARD LIMIT in black End of yard: You may stop the bell ringing

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