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Section 17: Signs at Bridges and Tunnels

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Signs that are associated with bridges or tunnels are mostly concerned with managing emergencies or other incidents that might occur at these features.



A tunnel emergency wire system exists on the Northern City Line in London (between Moorgate and Finsbury Park). When the system is defective, a sign will be displayed on the headwall adjacent to the signal at the station before the affected section [17.1]. The driver should make a radio test call to the signalman before entering the section where the tunnel wires are defective.

[17.1] 'Tunnel Emergency Wire System Inoperative' Sign.
Area: Northern City Line   Usage: Low   Status: Current

From 1999, trackside bridge I.D. signs were fitted, on a trial basis, at certain underbridges (rail over road) on the London North Eastern Zone. The signs were designed to enable drivers to readily locate and identify bridges by their number should it be necessary in the event of an incident at or near the bridge. The signs display the bridge number and also the Engineer's Line Reference (ELR), which identifies the route, surrounded by a blue border [17.2]. The elliptical shape of the sign derives from the style of number plate originally affixed to bridges by many of the old railway companies.

[17.2] Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. ELR = 'LEN3'; Bridge number = 154).
Area: LNE Zone (subsequently also Scotland Zone)   Usage: High   Status: Current

In 2001, trials were undertaken in the Exeter area (Great Western Zone) involving the positioning of temporary "bridge strike" signs at rail bridges (underbridges or overbridges) that have been struck by road vehicles. The signs comprise a double-sided diagonal blue board with the words "bridge strike" [17.3]. They are positioned at the bridge concerned by rapid response staff attending a bridge strike incident. The aim was to assist drivers in locating the bridge concerned.

[17.3] Temporary "Bridge Strike" Sign.
Area: Great Western Zone   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain

Later bridge I.D. signs on the London North Eastern Zone have the bridge's mileage stated on the sign [17.4]. Bridge I.D. signs of this type have been installed at certain overbridges (road over rail) on the London North Eastern Zone as well as at underbridges. There is also a miniature version, which omits the mileage and the word "bridge" [17.5].

[17.4] Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. ELR = 'ECM5'; Bridge number = 193).
Area: LNE Zone   Usage: High   Status: Current
[17.5] Miniature Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. ELR = 'ECM5'; Bridge number = 96).
Area: LNE Zone   Usage: Low   Status: Current

Various alternative forms of bridge I.D. signs have appeared on the other zones [17.6 & 17.7]. On the Scotland Zone, the signs installed from 2004 were the same as the original type used on the London North Eastern Zone (see [17.2]).

[17.6] Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. Bridge number = 44; ELR = 'LEC1'). Click Here for Photo
Area: Midlands Zone   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[17.7] Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. ELR = 'OWW'; Bridge number = 102).
Area: Great Western Zone   Usage: High   Status: Current

Section 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, completed in 2007, includes three long twin-tube tunnels. Cross passages connect the two parallel tunnels at intervals of around 660 metres. The position of each cross passage is indicated by a sign with a yellow diamond on a black square background [17.8]. These signs are located about 25 metres beyond the centre line of each cross passage. Certain cross passages are specially equipped to facilitate emergency train evacuation and access for emergency services. These are marked by a sign bearing the letter "E" [17.9]. If a fire occurs on board and it is not possible for the train to continue until it is outside the tunnel, the front of the train should be stopped at one of these signs. This will ensure that the leading passenger door is alongside the evacuation cross passage. In the event of an incident, a driver may be instructed to stop the train at an "E" sign to evacuate passengers from a train in the opposite tunnel. To help drivers to stop at the correct location, the three cross passages on the approach to an evacuation cross passage have signs bearing the numbers "3", "2" and "1" [17.10].

[17.8] Cross Passage Sign.
Area: CTRL   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[17.9] Evacuation Cross Passage Sign.
Area: CTRL   Usage: Medium   Status: Current
[17.10] Cross Passage Signs on approach to an evacuation cross passage.
Area: CTRL   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

New bridge I.D. signs installed on the West Coast Main Line in the vicinity of Watford Junction are circular in shape [17.11].

[17.11] Bridge I.D. Sign (e.g. Bridge number = 62; ELR = 'LEC1').
Area: LNW Territory   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

In 2009, work was carried out at Shakespeare Tunnel, between Folkestone and Dover, in preparation for the Southeastern Highspeed services running between London and Dover via the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Shakespeare Tunnel comprises two narrow parallel bores, each accommodating one track. Emergency passenger evacuation would normally take place through doors on the ends of trains; however, the streamlined Class 395 units that operate the new service have no such doors. Emergency evacuation can therefore only be carried out via doors on the side of the train. To allow for this, two existing passageways between the tunnel bores have been converted into evacuation passageways. In each bore, a stop sign reading "S1" has been provided adjacent to the first passageway, followed by a stop sign reading "S2" at the second passageway, 300 metres beyond [17.12]. Countdown signs with red diagonal bars [17.13] are installed inside each tunnel bore at 400 metres and 200 metres on the approach to the first stop sign.

[17.12] Stop Signs.
Area: Shakespeare Tunnel   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain
[17.13] Countdown Signs ( (a) - Outer board; (b) - Inner board ).
Area: Shakespeare Tunnel   Usage: Low   Status: Uncertain