OpenRailwayMap/Tagging in Germany/Bü, Ne, Pf and So Signals

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This page is part of the signal tagging scheme for railway signals in Germany (signals defined by ESO and additional signals used on that railway lines).

Bü Signals (Crossings)

Bü 0/1 Crossing Signal

This signal tells the train driver if a crossing is secured (lift gates lowered, lights flashing etc.) and if he can pass the crossing at full speed. The signal West German variant shows a flashing white light if the crossing is secured. The East German variant shows a white light (not flashing) if the crossing can be passed. photographs at Simon Walter's website

Bü 2 Expect Crossing Signal

This signal announces a crossing signal to the train driver. The distance in metre between Bü 0/1 and Bü 2 is at least twice as much as the speed in kph. photographs at Simon Walter's website

Bü 3 Activation Switch Marker Sign

This signal is only used in West Germany.

There are lots of so called "fernüberwachte" (remote oberserved) level crossings in West Germany. These do not have Bü 0/1 signals. Instead, the crossing notifies a dispatcher if a part of it is not working anymore. The dispatcher will notify the train driver(s) via radio.

This signal is mounted at the locations where the activiation switch of these crossings are. (These crossings are activated automatically if a train approaches)

Please not that this signal is only used in West Germany. There is a signal called So 15 in East Germany which looks exactly the same but has the meaning of Bü 2! photographs at Simon Walter's website

Bü 4 Whiste Sign

Whistle Signs (German singular: Pfeiftafel) mark locations where the train driver has to turn on the whistle for three seconds. They are mounted near level crossings without lights and/or lift gates. You can sometimes find this sign in front of old tunnels.

This signal is a rectangular sign with a white background and a black P (P = pfeifen = whistle) on a white background. photographs at Simon Walter's website

Bü 5 Ring Sign

Ring Signs (German singular: Läutetafel) mark locations where the train driver has to ring. They are mounted near level crossings. They only occur on railway lines with light rail service and historic lines. photographs at Simon Walter's website

This signal looks very similar to Bü 4 but has a black L instead of a black P.

Ne signals

Ne 1 Trapezoid Board

German name: Trapeztafel

The trapezoid board replaces entry signals where no entry signals are mounted. There are two use cases:

  • on branch lines as a replacement for the entry signal if operations are done without the support light or semaphore signals ("dark territory")
  • on main or branch lines on the left track where no entry signal exists

Trains may pass a trapezoid board only with a written command. photographs by Simon Walter

Ne 2 Distant Signal Board

German name: Vorsignaltafel

Distant signal boards are used at following locations:

  • at distant signals which are no repeaters and not mounted at a main light signal
  • without a distant signal – train drivers have to behave as if a distant signal would display "expect stop"

photographs by Simon Walter

Distant signal boads with reduced breaking distance in East Germany see So 3.

Ne 3 Distant Signal Beacons

German name: Vorsignalbaken

are not mapped

Ne 4 Chequer Board Plate

German name: Schachbretttafel

Chequer Board Plates are used if a main signal is mounted at a different location than usual (e.g. left of track instead of right). photographs by Simon Walter

Ne 5 Car Stop Marker

German: Haltetafel

The car stop marker marks a location at a station or halt where the head of train should stop. There are often multiple stop markers for different train lenghts. Stop markers may have an additional sign with a train lenght (usually in metre, sometimes number of cars/units).

The signal is also used at stations of branch lines without exit signals. Trains have to stop there and wait for a command by the the train dispatcher.

photographs by Simon Walter

There is also a variant of this signal which is a light signal. It is mounted before a halt where trains only stop on demand. It shows a white flashing H on a black background. This signal is very rare.

Ne 6 Halt Ahead

German name: Haltepunkttafel

This signal announes a halt. It is mounted 800 to 1300 m (main lines) or 150 m (branch lines) before a halt. photographs by Simon Walter

Ne 7 Snowplow Board

German name: Schneepflugtafel

Snowplow boards show where the snowplow has to be liftet due to an obstacle (bridges, level crossings, PZB magnets). examples by Simon Walter

Ne 12 Announcement of Resetting Point Status Signal

German name: Ankündigungsbake

This signal announces a status signal of a resetting point (Ne 13). photographs by Simon Walter

Ne 13 Resetting Point Status Signal

German name: Überwachungssignal der Rückfallweiche

The status signal of a resetting point indicates if the point is at its default position and may therefore be traversed or not. More informations and images at stellwerke.de (German) Attention! Usage of Signals So 17, So 18a and So 18b has been forbidden in Germany since 31. January 2011.

Ne 14 ETCS Stop marker

German alternative name: ETCS-Halt-Tafel

Trains running in operation mode SR (staff responsible) have to stop at this signal. It is currently only used on high speed railway line Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle.

Pf Signals

Pf 2 Doubled Whistle Sign

This signal only exists in East Germany.

It marks locations where the train driver has to whistle. He has to whistle a second time immediately before the crossing.

So Signals

So 1 End Board

This signal is currently not mapped.

So 2 Chequer Board Plate

see Ne 4 Chequer Board Plate.

So 3 Distant Signal Board

So 3 was the ex-DR name of Ne 2, the meaning is the same.

Distant signal boards in West Germany see Ne 2.

Distant signal board in East Germany (formerly known as So 3a):

Distant signal board in East Germany with reduced breaking distance between the board and the main signal/trapezoid board (Ne 2 with an additional circle, formerly known as So 2c):

Distant signal board with a triangle and a black dot on top of the Ne 2 (formerly known as So 3b) can used at semaphore distant signals which can show three apsects (expect stop, expect reduced speed, expect full speed). They do not get a special tagging because the tagging of the distant already contains this information.

Distant signal board with a triangle and a black dot on top of the Ne 2 and a black circle inside the Ne 2 sign (formerly known as So 3d, i.e. three-aspect distant semaphore signal with reduced breaking distance):

So 12 Boundary Marker

Siehe Ra 12 Boundary Marker.

So 14 Activation Contact Marker Pole

German name: Merkpfahl

This signal only exist in East Germany. Don't confuse it with Bü 3 (exist only in West Germany) and So 15 (exists only in East Germany). Both look very similar but So 14 is a pole, no board.

This signal is a white pole with black horizontal stripes. It is painted on all four vertical faces. It indicates where the activiation contacts are located.

So 15 Caution Board

German name: Warntafel

This signal only exist in East Germany. Don't confuse it with Bü 3 ("Merktafel") which looks exactly the same but exist only in West Germany and has a meaning similar to So 14! Don't confuse it with So 14 which is a pole, no sign.

This signal announces a crossing signal (Bü 0/1, formerly So 16a/b). This signal may indicate the location of activation contacts if there is no So 14.

So 16 ex-DR Crossing Signal

This signal tells the train driver if a crossing is secured (lift gates lowered, lights flashing etc.) and if he can pass the crossing at full speed.

This signal formerly only existed in East Germany but nowadays exists in whole Germany.

It shows a white light (not flashing) if the crossing can be passed. Newer signals have two yellow, reflective dots instead of two yellow lights. photographs at Simon Walter's website

So 106 ex-DR Cross Board

German name: Kreuztafel

This signal only exists on branch lines in East Germany.

It replaces a distant signal. This signal is becoming rare, Ne 2 is its alterantive.