New Zealand Signal Classification

This page explains the classification of signals in the New Zealand Railway network. The classification defines the rules under which a signal may be passed at stop.

I am beginning to upgrade this page to be consistant with the Pilot for Automatic Signalling Rules introduced north and east of Te Rapa in 2012.

(Right)  6LA Down Starting from Main at Paraparaumu is a Stop & Stay running signal. 6LB Shunt and Down Starting From dock Platform is a shunt signal classed as a starting signal. Photo taken in 2005. Paraparaumu has been re-signalled.
Signal classification

Description Of Automatic Signals

Colour Light Shunting Signals

Display one light and indicate low-speed only.

Where specified in the S & I diagram shunting signals may also be used as starting signals, in which case, if the signal is indicating Clear, the train may travel at Normal Speed once clear of the points.

Automatic Running Signals

Display at least two lights or one light and a red marker  light or disc. May also display a third (low-speed)  light. Some signals also have an A-Light  below and to the right of the lower unit or marker. An illuminated A-Light changes the classification of the signal.

Automatic Running Signal Classification

Automatic Signal Classification

The rule book defines three classes of automatic running signal and the rules under which each class may be passed at stop:

  • Stop & Proceed. The driver can pass this signal at stop provided the prescribed procedures are followed.
  • Stop & Stay. The signalman can verbally authorise the passing of the signal at stop.
  • Departure. A Mis 59 (CTC Regulations) or SWA01 (Automatic Signalling Rules) must be issued for the signal to be passed at stop. A Departure signal authorises entry into a single-line block section.

The Automatic Signalling Rules, introduced in 2012, introduce the terms Permissive and Absolute. A Stop & Proceed signal is permissive; Stop & Stay and Departure signals are absolute.

Sub Classification

Automatic Running signals are further classified as under:

Intermediate signals.

Arrival signals (used at Attended and Unattended crossing stations in single-line automatic signalling areas) and also in Track Warrant areas.

Approach signals

Stop and Proceed, or Stop and Stay signals

Stop and Proceed signals.

Stop and Stay signals

Not controlled directly by signalman. (In new installations it may be possible for Control to hold the signal at Stop).

Outer Home signals
Home signals
Directing Signals
Starting signals
Advanced Starting signals

Stop and Stay signals

Can be held at "Stop" by a signalman.

Departure signals (used exclusively on single-line sections carrying traffic in both directions, to control the entrance of trains to such sections)

Departure signals.

Some can be held at "Stop" by a Signalman.


Illuminated A-Light

An illuminated A-Light converts a Stop & Stay signal to a Stop & Proceed. In the Wellington suburban area an illuminated A-Light also indicates that any points are correctly set and locked i.e. the driver is not required to stop and hand wind the points.

65 Down Advanced Starting at Petone is a Stop & Stay signal because the marker is aligned vertically with the upper unit. The A-Light is illuminated, converting the signal to Stop & Proceed.


Departure. 4LA Down Departure (Ngaio), when clear, authorises entry to the single line section to Wadestown. A Mis.59 must be issued before this signal can be passed at Stop.

The marker is vertically aligned with the main unit. There is nothing to distinguish this signal from a Stop & Stay - the driver must know which is a Departure and which is a Stop & Stay.

Stop & Stay 7 Down Starting From Loop (Trentham) at the start of the double line section to Wellington. This signal can be passed at Stop on the verbal authority of the signalman.

The marker is vertically aligned with the main unit. There is nothing to differentiate this signal from a Departure. The use of a marker light rather than a disk does not change the rules applying to the signal.

Stop & Proceed Intermediate signal 1832 on the Up Main at Naenae.

The marker offset to the right distinquishes this signal from Stop & Stay and Departure Signals. It can be passed at Stop after the driver has followed defined procedures.

Starting From Upper Hutt

A train departing Upper Hutt for Wellington passes in succession a Stop & Stay signal, a Departure signal and a Stop & Proceed signal.

Stop & Stay

If starting from the Main a train first passes 53 Down Starting From Main (running signal, left). If starting from the dock a train passes 54 Shunt & Down Starting From Suburban Platform (right). On the far left, just visible in front of the white stay is 51 Shunt & Down Starting From Loop.

These signals can be passed at Stop on the verbal authority of the Signalman.

In the distance are the Blenheim Street crossing alarms. These alarms do not operate until one of the starting signals has been cleared and a train is occupying the appropriate track circuit. This arangement allows the single-line section to be claimed and the Departure signal cleared without operating the alarms and holding up traffic.

Departure. After crossing Blenheim Street the train passes 52 Down Departure. Behind signal 52 is the Up Home. Note the 32km peg.

This signal can be passed at Stop only after the issue of a Mis.59.

Stop & Proceed. The train then passes intermediate signal 3117 at Wallaceville. The signal is automatic and is indicating Stop because the section in advance is occupied. The photograph was taken from the Ward Street level crossing.

This signal can be passed at Stop by the driver after he has followed specified procedures.

Last Updated: Tue 28 May 2013

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