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NorthWesternRailwayposter

Gordon and Thomas with different headcodes

Headcodes are an indication of an engine or train's class or importance by means of a position of lamps shown on the front of an engine, or white discs during the day. The headcode system allows the signalmen to identify and regulate trains and determine their routes.

Engines on the North Western Railway have been seen wearing lamp and disc codes on many occasions in the Railway Series. According to The Railway Series: Surprise Packet, the North Western Railway has its own headcode meanings.

In the television series, the engines no longer used headcodes with their lamps following the third season. By the request of railway consultant Sam Wilkinson, all the engines eventually gained permanent lamps from the seventeenth season onwards.

Although headcodes are not used in the series anymore, some engines have been permanently fitted with the express headcode, them being Spencer, Flying Scotsman and Merlin.

List of Headcodes

  • Class A: Express; Breakdown; Snowplough (Two lamps or discs on the left and right lamp irons)
  • Class B: Ordinary Passenger; Branch Line (One lamp or disc on the smokebox lamp iron)
  • Class C: Perishable Goods; Express Parcels; continuous brakes throughout (Two lamps or discs on the middle and right lamp irons)
  • Class D: Fast Freight; ½ train fitted with continuous brakes (Two lamps or discs on the smokebox and right lamp irons)
  • Class E: Medium Freight; at least 4 vehicles fitted with continuous brakes (Two lamps or discs on the middle and left lamp irons)
  • Class F: Express Freight without continuous brakes (Two lamps or discs on the smokebox and left lamp irons)
  • Class G: Light Engine (One lamp or disc on the middle lamp iron
  • Class H: Through Freight; Ballast Train (Two lamps or discs on the smokebox and middle lamp irons)
  • Class J: Mineral; Empty Wagon Train (One lamp or disc on the right lamp iron)
  • Class K: Pick Up Goods; Branch (One lamp or disc on the left lamp iron)

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