Home and Distant
Among other reasons,
due to the different developments in both parts of Germany during the
Division, German Railways are currently using seven (!) different
The signal systems
that are currently in use are:
- The traditional
Semaphore Signals (Formsignale,
'Shape Signals') where the appearance ('shape') of the signal
determines its meaning.
Note that semaphores are not really a signalling system
of its own, but belong to the Hp system described below.
The semaphore signals are equipped with lights for night visibility.
They are used (with only negligible differences) both with DB and DR.
Note that the semaphore signals are almost extinct, but on some spots
you will still see them.
The systems of
Colour Light Signals (Lichtsignale):
- The Hp system that was introduced in
1935, but was (and is) mainly used by the DB, is based on the aspects
that are displayed by the semaphore signals at night.
- The Hl system that was introduced by
DR and is used in East Germany, combines main and distant indications
in one signal head. The Hl system is also unofficially called the the
ОСЖД (OSShD) system
after the East European Organisation for the Cooperation of Railways
which standardised signalling systems in the former COMECON states.
- The Ks system which was designed after
the Reunification and is to ultimately replace both older systems. This
system also combines main and distant indications within a single head.
Ks means Kombinationssignal (combined signal).
- The Sk system, which was introduced as
a test installation on a single line only, where it is still used today.
- The LZB cab signalling system
At the electric
urban railways (S-Bahn) in Berlin and Hamburg special signals are used.
These system was invented in 1928 and was the first German colour light
system. The S-Bahnen are isolated systems but are operated by the DBAG
so their signalling goes in here as well:
- The Sv system which is used in the
urban railways in Berlin and Hamburg.