British Railways Headlamp Codes

Posted by Ben Angus On July 15, 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The main purpose of the headlamp is that it can warn people on the rail track ahead of an approaching train, thus allowing sufficient time for them to take evasive action. The other main benefit is the ability to light up whistle posts and landmarks.

Headlamp Details
British Railways Headlamp Codes
Express passenger train, breakdown van train going to clear the line. ‘Light engine’ going to assist a disabled train, empty coaching stock timed at express passenger train speed.
British Railways Headlamp Codes
Ordinary passenger train, ‘mixed’ train, breakdown van train not to clear the line, branch passenger train, rail motor or railcar.
British Railways Headlamp Codes
Express freight, or ballast train authorised to run at maximum speed of 35 m.p.h., Empty coaching-stock train not carrying headlamp for group 1.
British Railways Headlamp Codes
Parcels, newspapers, fish, meat, fruit, milk, horsebox, cattle or perishable train composed entirely of vacuum pipe connected to the engine. Express freight, livestock, perishables or ballast train partly vacuum fitted with not less than one-third vacuum braked vehicles connected by vacuum pipe to the engine.


British Railways Headlamp Codes



Freight, mineral or ballast train. Train of empties  carrying a load to destination.
British Railways Headlamp Codes Express freight, fish, meat, fruit or cattle train: Ballast train not running under groups 3 or 4 headlamps. Special train conveying 36 ton breakdown crane but not proceeding to an accident.
British Railways Headlamp Codes Through fast train not running under groups 3, 4 or 5 headlamps and carrying a through load.
British Railways Headlamp Codes Light engine or light engines coupled together or engine and brake van.
 British Railways Headlamp Codes Freight, mineral or ballast train stopping at intermediate stations.
 British Railways Headlamp Codes Ballast train, freight train or inspection train requiring to stop in between signal boxes (in the section) Branch freight train.

Note: These are taken from ‘British Railways Standard Locomotive Headlamp Codes 1961’

These codes were previously subject to alterations and minor variations on the different regions of British Railways
Compiled by Vernon Carey, Elgin Model Railway Club
“Back to Basics” – for those who are learning series

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