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Stencil versus "road sign" speed restriction signs


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According to Rail Signs at http://www.railsigns.co.uk/sect13page3/sect13page3.html , the circular reflective permanent speed restriction signs came into general use in about 1987, replacing the stencil signs.

How many stencil signs are still around? I see a few on the GC line through Rotherham (1st photo below), but not on the Midland (2nd photo below).

How widespread are the remaining ones? Is there be a greater proportion of replacement signs on higher speed/main lines? For a standard introduced in 1987, it seems to be taking a long time to permeate across the network.

 

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You will not believe that last year or the year before our monthly Networt Rail report (Kent area) included new speed signs to be installed. Yes, it was a stencil type, the old version being reinstalled as these would not need the cleaning the road type require.

 

Can't say I have noticed many of these "new" stencil signs around.

 

Cheers.

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You will not believe that last year or the year before our monthly Networt Rail report (Kent area) included new speed signs to be installed. Yes, it was a stencil type, the old version being reinstalled as these would not need the cleaning the road type require.

 

Can't say I have noticed many of these "new" stencil signs around.

 

Cheers.

 

Thats an interesting development but in reality both both types have their merits. When clean, the retro reflective the modern 'road sign types' do seam more legible (especially with modern traction having high intensity headlights), however when placed at a low level (thus more suseptable to track dirt) or urban environments (where graffiti is prevalent) they quickly become illlegable. In such cases the frequent cleaning and replacement of such signs might well be seen as a drain on resources and with pressures on costs and the wage bill still out there following the Mcnaulty report stencil signs may well represent an attractive option.

 

At the end of the day I guess the real people we need to hear from are those forum members who are or were drivers as ultimately speed boards are only placed lineside to assist them.

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The 'road signs' were introduced originally specifically to assist road learning for the through working of drivers on Thameslink services - partly in order to simply be more noticeable but also to show up better than the old LNER style stencils on route learning/refreshing videos.  They subsequently became the official standard of course due to, mainly, the improved visibility they offered but also as an aid to route learning and for videos in the same way as they had originally been intended to be.

 

They have the advantage that they are probably the best way of showing differential speeds although they can - as already noted - become dirty and in some locations need regular cleaning.  Mind you the stencil indicators were just as bad at becoming dirty as not only did they collect road dirt from passing trains but the paint finish deteriorated causing them to become nigh invisible sometimes (but then once Drivers know the road they hardly need them anyway, they're simple a reminder).

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I read of some being installed (Waterloo approaches???) which were a stencil with a plain white/red circle immediately behind, so they looked like a road sign but were still to some extent legible when covered with dirt, snow or graffiti.  Or did I imagine this? 

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As "road sign" speed restriction signs were first introduced in Scotland I find it hard to believe this was for the purposes of Thameslink. The initial Scottish ones even used the Transport font, unlike the later standard design - I suppose because they were off-the-shelf items.

 

The Tyne & Wear Metro used road-style signs originally. However when the national network started using them, they switched to similar hexagonal signs to avoid confusion, as theirs are in metric speeds.

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As "road sign" speed restriction signs were first introduced in Scotland I find it hard to believe this was for the purposes of Thameslink. The initial Scottish ones even used the Transport font, unlike the later standard design - I suppose because they were off-the-shelf items.

 

The Tyne & Wear Metro used road-style signs originally. However when the national network started using them, they switched to similar hexagonal signs to avoid confusion, as theirs are in metric speeds.

You might not believe it but that was indeed the case - specifically to assist road learning and road learning videos for Thameslink (source - a then current member of the BR  Signalling Committee who was at the time my boss and present at the meetings which had to approve their adoption).

 

Mind you it wouldn't surprise me to hear that Scotland had been using road signs as the Region was well known for its occasional acts of 'independence' and it sometimes liked to do things differently from the rest of BR without bothering to ask first (or carried on and did things in a different way irrespective of what was happening elsewhere as we used to find at various 'national' level meetings (and as we continued to find once the business sectors took over in place of Regional organisations when my ex LMR opposite number - by then in a different area of operational matters - found after taking over responsibility for a team in Glasgow)

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23 minutes ago, Johnny Rock said:

I've read somewhere that the stencil type speed signs were painted white before BR days. They were then painted yellow to improve visibility. Before the introduction of road type signs. Does anyone know if this is correct? 

 

Given many heritage railways use White painted numbers rather than yellow and the original instigators of the signs (the LNER) also used white its fair to say BR initially used White too.

 

Not sure when they changed but it might have something to do with the +100mph speeds that came in with the HST.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Johnny Rock said:

I've read somewhere that the stencil type speed signs were painted white before BR days. They were then painted yellow to improve visibility. Before the introduction of road type signs. Does anyone know if this is correct? 

I believe the change was in the late 1950s, possibly related to the derailment at Sutton Coldfield, but specifically to cure the problem of white signs ‘disappearing’ in snow. 
 

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Yes there was a change from white to yellow in later BR days as noted above probably when the HSTs arrived.

 

As an additional observation there are now two variations on the 'road signs'.  A yellow background is used for EPS (enhanced permissable speeds) applicable to tilting trains and black with white lettering to indicate metric (km/h) speeds.

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The 1960 "change" was the near-universal introduction of the white-painted stencil signs which had, prior to that date, only generally appeared on former LNER routes. Prior to 1960, each of the "big four" had their own method of indicating permanent speed restrictions and then only exceptionally, normally relying on drivers' route knowledge (which, with few items of motive power equipped with speedometers, was at least realistic).

 

The Southern's (very rare) permanent speed restriction signs were probably the most interesting, being very similar to the "T" termination of temporary speed restriction sign but actually displaying a back-lit cut-out "∆".

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These posts are very helpful thanks. 

I'm building a Settle and Carlisle layout based in the 1930/40s. I've seen a couple of cab ride videos showing some of the stencil speed markers but as these videos were taken in the 60s the signs were yellow. I have bought some brass ones for the layout which look really good and thought I'd add a couple to the layout tracks. It looks as if they were sited about 100 yards ahead and on the left hand side of the track. 

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The problem with the yellow stencilled speed limit signs was that while visible against snow the lower luminance factor of yellow made them about 20-30% less visible during the day depending on the background.

 

When they purchased the retroreflective signs they worked well under defuse illumination (day time) but they got (according to the suppliers) the cheapest engineering grade material (R1/RA1 to current EN 12899) rather than what was used on high speed roads (R2/RA2 min). I have no idea if this is the reason they changed the font but it would probably  have been better to stick with transport font (suitable for 130mph+) and got better material. The last new one I got up close to (2019) was still a glass bead product - I would have assumed NR would have switched to microprismatic material (Class R3C-UK). Its quite interesting that they use black on yellow for high speed trains as they are less readable at speed that black on white.

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Myself and a traction inspector got the job organising the erection the first road type signs on the Midland Line London to Bedford. Basically deciding where and what to mount them on. Chris Green who was in charge of Network South East at the time liked the idea and asked for the signs to be rolled out over all of NSE. The signs became instantly unobtainable as demand out striped supply.

 

I was now tasked with doing the signs on the WCML and kept getting called down to see the Area Civil Engineer as Chris Green was asking about our lack of progress.  As I could do without this, the traction inspector and myself went out and put a suitable left over sign up for the restriction on the UF at the north end of Berkhamstead Station so Chris Green could see it while waiting for his train each morning. That one sign kept him happy that progress was being made for the month it took to start getting the signs for the WCML. But for years afterword the observant would have noticed that it was of a slightly different design to all the other signs.  

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7 hours ago, Johnny Rock said:

These posts are very helpful thanks. 

I'm building a Settle and Carlisle layout based in the 1930/40s. I've seen a couple of cab ride videos showing some of the stencil speed markers but as these videos were taken in the 60s the signs were yellow. I have bought some brass ones for the layout which look really good and thought I'd add a couple to the layout tracks. It looks as if they were sited about 100 yards ahead and on the left hand side of the track. 

 

Sorry, but I don't think there would have been stencil type speed restriction signs on the Settle & Carlisle line in the 1930s/40s, as they were an LNER invention (see Bécasse's post above).

 

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On 27/11/2021 at 09:53, keefer said:

The change was in 1963 after the really bad winter, as said, to make the signs more visible against snow.

I thought it was later, more like 1964/65 on the WR.  In any event the colour reference in the General Appendix was not altered to yellow until 1968 and even after that there were still white painted cut-outs around. 

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