Signals for Speed Restrictions
- Overview -

Back to speed signals

On this page, you see all speed-related boards and signals, and I'll try to explain why there are so many (although I think things could be made easier...)

In general, there is always an announcing signal, warning the driver of a speed reduction, as well as a commencement signal, indicating from where the speed reduction applies (remember, since on railways the braking distance is longer than visibility, posting a speed limit without announcer would be almost useless - at least where high speeds are used).

Please note, that in Europe there are railway companies which put up signals governing the speed for various train classes and thus show the real maximum speed for a train. In Germany this is different:
The maximum train speed is stated in the Buchfahrplan (working timetable), since the 'real' maximum speed depends on the train characteristics such as braking capability or load, you may see the speed signals as additional information (which is usually already stated in the timetable), however the speed a train is actually permitted may be lower than indicated on the signal.

Also there are differences between the signals in former West and East Germany.

West Germany (ex DB)

Announcement Commencement End Remarks
Lf 1  Lf 2  Lf 3  temporary speed restriction
Lf 6  Lf 7  Lf 7
or stated in
working
timetable
permanent speed restriction (main lines)
Lf 4
[obsolete]
Lf 5
[obsolete]
(none) permanent speed restriction (branch lines) [obsolete, being replaced by main line signals]
Zs 3v 

Zs 3

Zs 10  Permanent speed restriction after this signal until end of points area or end signal.

The commencement signal is usually (yet not always) used with a main signal. The announcer and/or end signal are usually omitted.

East Germany (ex DR)

Announcement Commencement End Remarks
Lf 1  Lf 2  Lf 3  temporary speed restriction
(none) Lf 1  Lf 3  temporary speed restriction when no announcer is used
Lf 4
[obsolete]
being replaced by Lf 6 
Eckentafel "Corner Board"
[obsolete]
being replaced by Lf 7 
(Lf 4
showing
higher
speed)
permanent speed restriction

In front of an unsecured level crossing the announcer may show a zero, then the train must stop at the commencement board before proceeding

Zs 3v 

Zs 3

Zs 10  Permanent speed restriction after this signal until end of points area or end signal.

The commencement signal is usually (yet not always) used with a main signal. The announcer and/or end signal are usually omitted.