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Table of Contents

Executive Summary..................................................................................2

1. Introduction..........................................................................................5
Background of Signalling plans.........................................................................5

2. Requirements of Signalling Plans Vs Status of Compliance. .6

2.1 Presentational Issues in Signalling Plan:.....................................................6

2.2 Contents of Signalling Plan:........................................................................8

2.3 Checking & Approval of Signalling Plan:......................................................9

2.4 Status of compliance of Provisions of SEM, Part – II in Signalling plans:.......9

2.5 Status of compliance of Issues Raised by CRSs:........................................12

3. Issues Pertaining to Signalling Plan:...........................................13

3.1 Grey areas in content:............................................................................. ..13

3.2 Presentation and Symbols:.......................................................................13

3.3 Missing Guidelines on Special Notes:........................................................13

3.4 Signal Sighting and Survey:......................................................................13

3.5 Approval and Sign Off:.............................................................................. 14

4 Solutions to the Issues:...................................................................14

5 Appendices:................................................................................ ........15

6 Bibliography:......................................................................................15

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Executive Summary
This project report is the outcome of a study on the Signalling Plan design
practices of different zonal railways, status of compliance of various provisions of
Signal Engineering Manual pertaining to signalling plans in particular, identification of
the common issues and finding the solutions to achieve a standard format of the
plan; unambiguous with adequate clarity and presentational quality to minimise the
risk of misinterpretation by various users in different life cycles of a signalling system,
viz. Concept, design, safety review, installation, testing, commissioning, operation,
maintenance and decommissioning.
The motivation for the study comes with reference to observations of
Commissioner of Railway Safety, Dy. Commissioner of Railway Safety (S&T), and
reservations shown by sister departments involved with the railway project
implementation and train operation. Revisiting or altering the plans at the stage of
signing-off of Station Working Rules, CRS sanction, physical work at site or during
testing or commissioning has been a painful, retrogressive and expensive exercise.
It comes from either the communication gap or poor understanding of the layouts
and flexibilities in the operations achieved and variations in the practices of zonal
In view of outsourcing of design activities, standardisation of format,
documentation of zonal railway practices and a general agreement on it will achieve
the production and approval of a signalling plan that is safe, understandable,
implementable and fit for purpose.
During the course of the project, signalling plans of CR, ER, NCR, NER, SCR,
SER, SR and WR were studied and discussion held with concerned SSTE/ D&D and
Dy. CSTE/ P&D of the railways. The observations were recorded on a questionnaire
in tabular form for comparison purpose. In addition, issues compiled by railway board
in response to the letter of CSTE/ NFR during March 2009 to Additional Member
(Signal) were also discussed with Director (Signal), Railway Board to find out the
common issues pertaining to signalling plans encountered by all zonal railways to
find out a comprehensive solution to the problem.
While finding out the solution to the issues pertaining to signalling plan,
experience gained while working for Network Rail, U.K. on deputation and reference
of relevant standards, specifications and code of practice has also been used.
Issues require action on the part of railway is presentational, discipline to
follow the provisions of SEM, absence of clear guidelines for the approval and
consent of user and interface departments, absence of documentation of zonal
railway practices on plan production and amendment process and content of the
plan notes and other details. Another important aspect missing in the plan production
is the robust and meaningful signal sighting and survey before approval of the plan.

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The remedial measures include the amendment in SEM to include the more
elaborate guidelines on the presentational issues, content of the plan notes and
other information, plan production and alteration process, detailed signal sighting
and survey and legislation of the process to seek the consent of user and interface
Keeping in view the above-mentioned aspects, a model format and process of
producing a signalling plan fit for purpose has been suggested.

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1. Introduction
While working as CSTE/ Con/ SCR/ Secunderabad and Dy. CSTE/ Con/
SER/ Kharagpur, I have encountered many comments from Commissioner of
Railway Safety (CRS) and Dy. CRS/S&T of S.E. and S.C. circles on the practices
followed by the railways and their adamant approach to correct the same and fall in
line with their views. Again, these views are not uniform and borrowed from the
railways where they have worked. The problem has blown to such an extent that
CSTE/NFR has written letter to Additional Member (Signal), Railway Board for
intervention in the matter. Railway Board has issued letter to all zonal railways,
seeking the issues raised by various CRS/ Dy. CRS (S&T) and practices followed by
railways for issue of some guidelines. In addition, the reservations expressed by
sister departments during signing off of plans, station working rules (SWR),
execution of works and even after the completion of yard modification speaks of
ambiguity in the documentations, plans and poor understanding of the facilities,
restrictions in operation and hurdles in implementation of the scheme.
The extract of a blog on the website of Indian Institute of Civil Engineering
(IRICEN), Pune reproduced as annexure – 1 and observations of Dy. CRS (S&T) on
some of the CRS sanction application of south central railway (annexure – 2) is able
to spot light the gaps in the process of designing a signalling plan. In view of
outsourcing of design activities by various railways, the issues raised by members of
IRICEN blog site and CRSs cannot be treated as nuisances rather require a serious
introspection and ultimately efforts towards standardisation. The ultimate benefit of
this exercise will be the minimisation of frequent changes in the plan after approval
and before execution of the work, which is eating away the valuable time available
with signal engineers.
In order to bridge this gap and come out with an unambiguous,
understandable, and fit for purpose signalling plan, provisions of SEM with respect to
signalling plan, status of their compliance by different railways has been studied.
Scope for amendment in the manual, plan approval procedure, provision of
additional information, requirement of strengthening of the alteration process has
been analysed and conclusions in the form of the recommendations have been
drawn to achieve the goal of producing a signalling plan comprehensible and
acceptable to all stakeholders, i.e. users and interface departments.
This ground work may facilitate the evolvement of a standard format and
design practices and approval process on signalling plan by Railway Board or issue
suitable amendments in Signal Engineering Manual, Part – I and II.

Background of Signalling plans

Signalling plans are required for the following purpose:
• Proper understanding of the scheme, relevant notes being written on the

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• Preparation and checking of the designs, estimate and tender schedule,
• Seeking consent and observation of interfacing departments,
• Obtain statutory approval and sanction,
• Installation of equipments, testing and commissioning
• Maintenance,
• Future modifications, if any.
To fulfil the above-mentioned requirements, it is necessary that this document is
unambiguous, clear and understandable by all concerned associated with the works
cited above. In order to achieve this objective, SEM part I and II prescribes the
requirements, purpose, format, contents, preparation, checking, approval, issue and
storage/ upkeep of this document. However, with changes in the organisation,
working environment and methodology of project execution, there is a need for
comprehensive review of these provisions and document the specification,
production, checking, approval and issue of signalling plan. Frequent instances of
changes sought by various stakeholders at various stages of the work and delay in
approval and sanction experienced by almost all the railways corroborate the
necessity for the same.

2. Requirements of Signalling Plans Vs Status of Compliance

To find out the status of compliance of requirements of signalling plan
prescribed in signal engineering manual (SEM), part – I and II and issues raised by
either Operating, Engineering or CRS over various railways, plans of CR, ER, NCR,
NER, SCR, SER, SR and WR were studied and discussion held with SSTE/ D&D
and Dy. CSTE/ P&D. The observations were recorded on a questionnaire in tabular
form for comparison purpose. In this section, requirements of signalling plans as
prescribed in signal engineering manual (SEM), part – I and II, their relevance in the
present context and status of their compliance has been presented in tabular form
under following sub heading; presentational issues, contents, signing off and
approval, technical requirements as per SEM and issues raised by CRSs

2.1Presentational Issues in Signalling Plan:

Description Reference Remarks
1 Fringe details Para 8.1.2, SEM - I Insufficient
2 Relevant notes for the proper Para 8.1.4 Insufficient. Notes
understanding of the scheme should cover the
specified in SEM – II
3 North point Para 8.1.5 Adequate

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Description Reference Remarks
4 Divisional comments Para 8.1.7 Adequate
5 Approval from other Para 8.2.2 Adequate. However
departments zonal level action
may be incorporated
as all the railways are
getting the plans
commented at zonal
6 Signing Off Para 8.1.7 Prescribes only for
Tentative plans
7 Size Para 8.3.1, 8.3.2, Para 8.3.2 is
8.3.3; SEM – I, IS irrelevant.
Folded size should
be in terms of A4
paper size for the
convenience of filing.
8 Numbering Para 8.3.5 Should be stand
alone with index
9 Placement of Title, Number Para 8.4.1 Railway practices
and Notes vary. It requires
uniform adoption.
10 Numbering of other design Para 8.4.2 & 8.4.3
documents and cancellation -
of design sheets
11 Signature Block Para 8.4.4 May be brought on
the right hand bottom
corner adjacent to
title block
12 Scale Para 8.5 Followed in CR, NR,
NER, SER, but not in
ER, SCR, SR and
WR. A range may be

2.2Contents of Signalling Plan:

Description Reference Remarks
1 Standard of interlocking and Para 8.6.2 (i)
class of station

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Description Reference Remarks
2 Holding capacity of all running Para 8.6.2 (ii)
lines and sidings
3 Direction of reception and Para 8.6.2 (iii)
despatch on running lines and -
description of sidings
4 Restriction on dead-end Para 8.6.2 (iv)
sidings (e.g., No stabling) if -
5 All gradients within the station Para 8.6.2 (v) No conspicuous
limits and up to 2.5 kilometres endorsement except
in rear of first stop signal in few plans of SCR
6 Kilometerage and class of Para 8.6.2 (vi)
level crossings within the
station limits, whether
interlocked or not,
7 Type of Block Working with Para 8.6.2 (vii) All railways except
adjacent station and location WR and SCR provide
of block Instruments detailed notes. SCR
& WR provides
8 Up and Down directions and Para 8.6.2 (viii)
names of important junctions -
on either side
9 Reference to condonation of Para 8.6.2 (ix)
gradient infringements, CRS's
dispensation for deviations -
from General Rules/Signal
Engineering Manual, if any
10 Reference to approved Para 8.6.2 (x)
Engineering plan on which the -
signalling plan is based
11 Note regarding telephone Para 8.6.2 (xi) All railways except
communication provided WR and SCR provide
between A. S. M./Cabin man detailed notes. SCR
and level crossings within and & WR provides
outside station limits. symbolic
12 Aspect sequence chart for Para 8.6.2 (xii) Detailed ASC by all
colour light signals except SCR
13 Whether turnout is 1 in 8-1/2 Para 8.6.2 (xiii)
or 1 in 12 or 1 in 16 etc. -

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Description Reference Remarks
14 Details of Detection Table Para 8.6.2 (xiv)
etc., which are not apparent in -
the plan
15 Details of Track Circuits/Axle Para 8.6.2 (xv) Except marking of
Counter/Treadles IRJ, no details
16 Intestinal distances and Para 8.6.2 (xvi) More elaborate by
distance between Warning SEM WR. Chainage of all
Boards and Signals points, signals &
structures provided.
17 Details of open bridges Para 8.6.2 (xvii) -
18 Location of water column, ash Para 8.6.2 (xviii)
No more relevant
19 Signal overlap in big yards. Para 8.6.2 (xix) -
20 Custody of spare keys Para 8.6.2 (xx) Provided except by
21 Date of commissioning the Para 8.6.2 (xxi)
installation -

2.3Checking & Approval of Signalling Plan:

Description Reference Remarks
1 Checking by ASTE & DSTE Para 8.7.1 -
2 Approval by sign off by an Para 8.7.1 Approval by CSTE/C
officer in Junior Administrative in all except ER
grade or above, authorised by where also by CSE
the CSTE on behalf of CSTE
3 Signalling plans of interlocked Para 8.9.1 (i) Prepared by all
LC gates except SCR
3 Completion plans Para 8.8.1 & 8.8.2 Not followed as
specified in the SEM

2.4 Status of compliance of Provisions of SEM, Part – II in Signalling plans:

Description Reference Remarks
1 Subsequent additions and Para 12.7 No methodology is

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Description Reference Remarks
alterations prescribed. Different
practices over zonal
2 Layouts Para 12.43.1 -
3 Point, Trap and Shunting Para 12.50.1
Permitted Indicators
4 Location of signals Section ‘T’ -
5 Installation of Detectors Section 'K' -
6 Testing of locking against the Para 13.15 (ii)
signalling plan
7 Test of locking against the Para 13.16 &
interlocking table and do spot 13.17
Spot checking is rarely
checks from the Signalling
Plan at supervisor and officers
8 Provision of Electric lever Para 13.25.1
locks, key transmitters, circuit
controllers etc as per -
approved plan

9 Physical inspection of the Para 13.34

installation as per approved -
10 Location boxes containing all Para 13.34.2 (a) Not complied as
the apparatus are as per & (b) location area plan and
approved plans location plan is not in
11 lightning arrestors are Para 13.34.2(h) Not complied as
properly connected and earthing plan is not
earthed as per plan prepared even for SSI
12 System Testing of Installation Para 13.38.3 & 4 -
13 Locking arrangement at the Para 14.2.3
interlocked gate as per -
approved plan
14 Location and spacing of Para 19.8 Not complied as
signals shall be in accordance locations are not
with approved plans. surveyed/ sighted
before erection of
15 Electric signal machines shall Para 19.17.1
be installed in accordance -
with approved plans
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Description Reference Remarks
16 Electric Point Machines shall Para 19.29
be installed in accordance -
with approved plans.
17 Installation Of Electrical Para 19.39 &
Detector -
18 Installation of circuit controller Para 19.47.1
on single wire lever frame/
Ground frame in accordance -
with approved plans
19 Mechanical locking of Station Para 19.68
Master's Slide Control frame
in accordance with approved -
20 Installation and wiring of Para
Automatic Block Signalling as
per approved plan and Circuit -
21 Signalling and interlocking Para 21.1.4
arrangements for the yard in
accordance with the approved -
signalling plans ...
22 Protection of a signal post or Para
its fittings falling within 2
meters of a 25 kV live Not provided in
conductor by an iron signalling plan,
screening of approved design pictorially or notes
otherwise a Caution Board of
approved design
23 Neutral section shall be Para Neutral sections are
located away from stop not marked at present
signals, level crossing. in the plan
24 Visibility of signals and Para 22.3 Any implantation issue
implantation of OHE masts is not catered for in the
signalling plan
25 Distance between the traction Para 22.3.1 (a) No mention in the plan
mast and signal post and left to SSC or field
26 Location of Signals between Para to 3 No mention in the plan
tracks and location of portal and left to SSC or field
arm drops supervisor
27 Cabling in the vicinity of Para 22.4.6 and Locations of TSS, FP
traction sub stations, feeding 22.4.7 or SS are not shown in

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Description Reference Remarks
posts and switching stations
shall be at least one metre
away from any metallic part of the plan, hence no
conscious precaution
OHE or metallic body of

2.5 Status of compliance of Issues Raised by CRSs:

Description Reference Remarks
1 Subsequent additions CRS Alterations are difficult to trace in
and alterations observation CR and SCR plans.
on SCR
sanction Colouring of alterations on the
application original is in vogue over CR & SCR.
2 Restriction on the Except WR, all railways continue to
number of alterations alter the plan until major works in
in a plan the yard.
3 Numbering of LC gate Sequential numbering is not
signals - followed in case of more LCs in one
block section
4 Description of signals
in condonation SCR mentions only description not
application and their the number of signals
endorsement in plan
5 Non standard Legend Legend board to pass combined
boards for passing Gate and IB signal is used by SCR
Combined Gate and - but no such provision in GR/ SR or
IB signal SEM. Except ECoR, no other
railway uses this board
6 Signature of Operating CRS Para 8.2.2 of SEM provides for
officials on the plan observation obtaining complete details from
on NFR officers of other Departments when
sanction preparing plans that affect those
application departments and embody their
requirements on the plans, if
considered necessary. Arrange for
the plans, to be signed by the
representative of the department
concerned in token of approval.
7 Signature of signalling As above As per Para 8.7.1 read with Para
plan of construction by 1.5 of SEM, signature of SAG
SAG officer of Open officer of open line is not required.
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Description Reference Remarks
line However, only Junctions and big
yards in NER and all plans in ER
are signed by CSE.

3. Issues Pertaining to Signalling Plan:

As evident from the data compiled in Para 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5, the
important issues pertaining to production, checking and approval of signalling plans
are as following:
3.1Grey areas in content:

Although Para 8.6.2 list out the information to be shown on the signalling plan
yet lot of things are missing. True signal profile, table of signal route and other
interdisciplinary details of Km post, Neutral sections, TF, TSS, OHE masts and portal
arm drops, high voltage overhead power lines, crank handle locations, telephones
other than LC gates and shunting locations and legend boards etc are few examples.

3.2 Presentation and Symbols:

Presentation of requirements listed in various Para of SEM part – II as

explained in Para 2.4 are required to be presented either pictorially or in form of
notes. Similarly, a well-defined process to present the subsequent alterations in
signalling plan for execution of works and their traceability is an urgent requirement.
Traceability of alterations in CR and SCR plans are totally missing. Zonal railway
practices are varying largely. Simultaneous alteration of same signalling plan by
more number of executing agencies is creating lot of confusion in plan, installation at
site and issue of opening messages and signing - off of safety certificates.

3.3 Missing Guidelines on Special Notes:

To present the requirements listed in various Para of SEM part – II, guidelines
are missing for mandatory notes in the plan. SCR and WR plans are devoid of
virtually any note. For example, use of dial type DTMF based telephone for cabin
and LC gate communication with ASM is simply assumed in SCR plans.
3.4 Signal Sighting and Survey:

Signal sighting in present form and survey of site based on preliminary

tentative plan is serving no purpose. Signal sighting is regularly done after erection
of the signal and hardly any meaningful action for improvement in signal visibility can
be done except the extreme step of relocation of signal. This is resorted only in the
event of major problems in the visibility and many issues are left as it is. The
classical example of this approach is the visibility problem highlighted by CSO/ SER
in KGP – BHC section due to OHE mast and portal arm drops.
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Issues raised by field officials through surveys based on tentative signalling
plan are generally ignored due to hassles of amending the engineering plan, issue is
postponed to as built stage, and problems are left for staff during execution making
them prone to make errors.
A disciplined approach is required towards signal sighting and survey.
3.5 Approval and Sign Off:

As already pointed in Para 2.5 above, CRSs and COMs are playing with the
use of word CSTE for signing - off of plans, dispensation and condonation
applications. In SER dispensation application is signed by COM and Dy. CSTE (Con)
& DRM in construction and open line respectively before submission to CRS for
approval, whereas the same application is signed by Dy. CSTE (Con), CSTE (Con),
CSTE, CTPM and COM before submission to CRS in NCR and SCR. This new
process is shear wastage of time.
ER and NER has established the practice of signing the construction
signalling plan by SAG officer of open line for which NFR is fighting for. These
aberrations have shifted the responsibility to multiple hands without defining their
role. An unambiguous process indicating the designation is required for signing and
approval of the plans. In view of large-scale electrification projects and areas, plans
may also require to be signed by electrical TRD branch. In absence of this process,
electrical TRD is regularly found unaware of the works planned and sanctioned.

4 Solutions to the Issues:

To address the issues raised with respect to signalling plan, the possible
solutions have been concluded as following:
4.1 Amendment in the Signal Engineering Manual to incorporate the additional

4.2 Standardise the format of plan with respect to body, title block, signature
block, version/ alteration panel, table of signal routes, fringe details etc,

4.3 Discipline the Signal Sighting activity make its conduct and endorsement on
the plan mandatory before approval,

4.4 Survey based on the tentative plan and its endorsement should be made

4.5 Define the process to present the subsequent alterations in signalling plan,

4.6 Introduce the system of preparing Concept/ Works/ Scheme plan for
execution of works rather altering the signalling plan as no record exist to

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depict the actual position at site after alteration of the plan and before
execution of the work,

4.7 Signalling plans should be updated only after the commissioning of work as
practised over Network Rail,

4.8 Define and legislate the pin pointed roles in signal as well as user and
interface departments for consultation and their signature in token of their
consent before approval. Escalation of responsibility should also be avoided.

5 Appendices:

5.1.Annexure – 1: Extract of IRICEN blog site

5.2 Annexure – 2: Extract of few observations of CRS and their reply

5.3 Annexure – 3: Extract of SEM: Reference to plans

5.4 Annexure – 4: Letter of CSTE/ NFR to AM (Signal), Railway Board

5.5 Annexure – 5: Policy decision on signalling drawing and design by N. E.


6 Bibliography:

6.1.Signal Engineering Manual, Part – I and II

6.2 Railway Group Standard, GK/RT0207

6.3 Network Rail Design Specification, RT/E/S/11201

6.4 Network Rail Signalling Design Production Guidance, RT/E/C/11701

6.5 Signalling plan no. S1, 3606, Alt. P of Jhansi, C. Rly

6.6 Signalling plan no. SI 07660/175, Alt. III of Sainthia, E. Rly

6.7 Signalling plan no. NER/LJN/MUR/SP/2006, Alt. F of Mankapur, N. E. Rly

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6.8 Signalling plan no. IPU/2067D, Alt. 12 of Renigunta, S. C. Rly

6.9 Signalling plan no. SI, 11126, Alt. E of Soro, S. E. Rly

6.10 Signalling plan no. V/TRTR/0089/1/CN of Tripunittura, S. Rly

6.11 Signalling plan no. SG (SP) 3039/ 1 of Bordi, W. Rly

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