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Section 19: Signs associated with Radio Systems

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The "Global System for Mobile communications-Railway" (GSM-R) is a digital system that replaced the outdated analogue CSR and NRN systems, which were decommissioned between 2011 and 2019. In connection with GSM-R trials, in November 2001 signs were installed at Oxford and Didcot stations, where the CSR/GSM-R changeover took place. These signs only applied to Class 165/166 trains. At Oxford, signs advised drivers of northbound Cotswold Line services to switch on GSM [19.13], or CSR in the case of southbound services [19.14]. Signs were installed at the west end of Didcot station (Platforms 3 and 4), where services change direction [19.15].

[19.13] "Switch On GSM" Sign. Click Here for Photo
Area: Oxford   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[19.14] "Switch On CSR" Sign.
Area: Oxford   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[19.15] "Changeover CSR / GSM" Sign.
Area: Didcot   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

From 2002, drivers working over certain routes were issued with a GSM-R (IVRS) hand portable (IVRS = Interim Voice Radio System). The GSM-R (IVRS) hand portable was to be used in designated areas to contact the signalman in an emergency when protection of the line was required. This was a safety requirement in areas where axle counters replaced track circuits as the means of train detection (e.g. the Stoke-on-Trent area, in 2002). With the GSM-R system, there are no channel codes, but signs are installed to mark the entrance to and exit from a GSM-R radio network area, including IVRS areas. The entry board resembles a CSR channel indicator (see [19.7]) but has the initials "GSM-R" at the top and shows no channel code [19.16]. The original form of exit board was similar but had a red diagonal stripe superimposed [19.17]. The later, standard, form of exit board has a red diagonal cross [19.18] instead of the single diagonal stripe.

[19.16] GSM-R Entry Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current
[19.17] GSM-R Exit Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[19.18] GSM-R Exit Board. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

The GSM-P system, which facilitated emergency contact between Operations Control and drivers, was in use on the lines from Birmingham (Small Heath South Junction) to Hartlebury, Stratford-upon-Avon and Banbury. Signs were installed to remind drivers to switch on the GSM-P [19.19] or CSR [19.20] as appropriate.

[19.19] "Switch On GSM" Sign.
Area: Midlands Zone   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[19.20] "Switch On CSR" Sign.
Area: Midlands Zone   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

A small plate could be fitted to a signal controlling the exit from a siding as a reminder of the applicable CSR channel code [19.21]. Similarly, an alias plate could incorporate a reminder of the CSR channel code [19.22].

[19.21] CSR Channel Code Reminder Sign.
Area: Wessex Route   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[19.22] Alias Plate with CSR Channel Code Reminder.
Area: South West Trains   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

Trials of a fully functional GSM-R system commenced on the Glasgow North Electric lines in October 2007. A distinct alias plate for GSM-R [19.23] was required because it could be co-located with an alias plate provided for the CSR system (see [19.6]). A GSM-R alias plate shows the three-digit number to be entered when registering the GSM-R cab radio. The three digits do not necessarily match the last three digits of the four-digit number used for CSR set-up purposes.

[19.23] GSM-R Alias Plate. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

From c.2008, signs were provided on some platforms at stations managed by Southern, giving information for drivers carrying out the CSR 'set up' procedure. The first line of text stated the applicable direction, "Up" or "Down", together with an arrowhead pointing towards the track. The second line showed the CSR area code preceded by the letter "A" for "area" and followed by the letters "SU" for "set up", then the relevant signal number or alias code. The sign was surrounded by blue and white edging [19.24].

[19.24] CSR Set-Up Sign. Click Here for Photo
Area: Southern   Usage: High   Status: Historical

At London Fenchurch Street station, CSR 'set up' signs stating the relevant area code and signal number were provided on each platform [19.25].

[19.25] CSR Set-Up Sign.
Area: London Fenchurch Street   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

A new sign was introduced in 2009, which combined a GSM-R exit board (see [19.18]) and an NRN channel indicator (see [19.8]) onto a single board [19.26].

[19.26] Combined GSM-R Exit Board and NRN Channel Indicator.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

The standard GSM-R entry and exit boards (see [19.16 & 19.18]) made no distinction between areas where GSM-R was fully operational and those where only IVRS (Interim Voice Radio System) was in use. New signs were therefore introduced in 2010 to identify the entrance to and exit from an IVRS area. The entry board had the letters "IVRS" at the top and a large letter "I" in the centre [19.27]. The exit board was similar but had a red diagonal cross superimposed [19.28]. These signs replaced the former GSM-R entry and exit boards, which were then only used to denote areas with full GSM-R operation.

[19.27] IVRS Entry Board. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[19.28] IVRS Exit Board.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

The driver's GSM-R control panel includes an "SG" button which, when pressed, sends a "standing at signal" message to the signalman. Normally the message is automatically routed to the correct signalman using information from the train describer. Where this is not possible (e.g. in an area without a train describer), a sign may be installed which displays the signalman's eight-digit GSM-R telephone number (referred to as a "CT7 number") [19.29]. The sign, introduced in 2012, reminds the driver not to press the "SG" button but to dial the CT7 number instead. Alternatively, to avoid drivers having to dial the full eight-digit code, a GSM-R 'short code' may be displayed instead [19.30]. A short code comprises four digits and always begins with "12".

[19.29] CT7 Number Sign. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current
[19.30] Short Code Number Sign.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current

At locations where shunting instructions can be given over GSM-R radio, it is possible to establish a 'common shunt group' in which the driver and shunter or yard controller may discuss proposed shunting movements. To join the common shunt group, the driver has to enter a three-digit location code, which is indicated on a sign erected at the entrance to the yard [19.31].

[19.31] Common Shunt Group Access Code Sign.
Area: All Areas   Usage: Low   Status: Current