Getting Started With Lever Frames


Operating a lever frame is fairly complicated as you need to know quite a lot about the rules of the railway, as well as the local situation of the particular signal box, and trains operating through the area.

In order not to make the learning curve too steep, Rail3D implements a simplified simulation of a lever frame: Experienced signalman might like to read Notes For Real Signalmen to see comments on the areas simplified and plans to address them.


Getting Started

We’ll start by learning to operate one of the simplest possible signal boxes - one controlling a stretch of double track with no points to worry about: Marton box on the sample Charnton Rd layout.


Getting into the box

  • From the “View” menu, select “Goto”, and choose “Marton (Lever Frame)” from the drop down dialog:
  • You should find the view is now inside Marton box and facing the lever frame:
  • Things to notice:
    • Marton has six signals to control: three each (Distant, Home and Starter) for the up line (right to left) to Charnton Road and the down line (left to right) to Ayford Jct.
    • The track diagram (Above the frame) shows the layout and relative positions of the signals.
    • There are two block instruments, one for the up direction and one for the down direction.

For the moment, just watch the computer operate the frame, you should see the levers moved, the register updated, and hear the bells as trains are run through the station.


Moving around the box

You can move the viewpoint around the signal box to see what is going on, but note that you will not be able to move outside the signal box.

  • Press the up arrow to move forwards (also mouse scroll wheel)
  • Press the dn arrow to move forwards (also mouse scroll wheel)
  • Press the left arrow to turn the view left
  • Press the right arrow to turn the view right
  • Press Ctrl and the left arrow to shift the view to the left
  • Press Ctrl and the right arrow to shift the view to the right
  • Press PageUp to tilt the view up
  • Press PageDn to tilt the view dn.

There are also three buttons on the train register to move the view around:

  • The first button will return you to the default view: facing the frame
  • The second button will place you in a position looking out of the box to the left.
  • The third button will place you in a position looking out of the box to the right.

Move the mouse over the levers and block instruments: notice how a balloon prompt appears as you move the mouse over the handles with the lever name and number. (If this becomes intrusive, you can click the balloon button on the register window to turn it off).


Taking control

Once you have got the hang of moving around the box, it’s time to take control.

  • Until you are more experienced, it is best to wait until there are no trains signalled (ie all levers are at normal, and no trains approaching the box) before taking control.
  • To take control, click the top button on the register dialog to “sign on”. Notice how “sign on” is recorded in the register: you are now in control of the frame.

Operating an up train

  • All signals should be kept normally at danger - ie levers back in the frame - and only pulled off when a train passes.
  • The first thing that happens when a train is coming is that the previous box “offers” you the train. In Rail3D this is signified by a single beat of the bell, and the entry of the train description, together with the time “ilc” (Is line clear) is requested, in the train register:
    Here the previous signal box down the line (Ayford Jct) has requested “Is Line Clear” for the up works train.
  • If the line is clear (see Clearing Points) you can accept the train.
    • To accept this train, the line must be clear from Ayford Jct all the way to your up Starter signal - which is your clearing point.
    • You can verify the state of the up line between Ayford Jct and Marton by looking at the train register: the train register shows trains that have entered the section in the fourth column (“Ent”) and trains that have left the section in the fifth column (“Out”). If every train that has entered has also left - then you know that the section is clear. In practice, don’t worry about this at this stage as Ayford Jct will not offer you the train unless the section is clear, but it is good practice to check the register when accepting a train.
    • You can verify that the line is clear to your clearing point a) by looking at the track diagram and b) by looking out of the window.
  • When you are happy that the line is clear, accept the train by double-clicking the empty “acc” entry of the register for the train in question:
  • A dialog asks you to confirm that you want to accept the train, and if you say Yes, the acceptance time is entered in the register:
  • If you are not in a position to accept the train: simply ignore the request. You can accept the request in due course when you are ready - or in about ten minutes Ayford Jct will ask again.
  • Note that at this point we do not clear any signals.

In Due Course …

  • the train will leave Ayford Jct. This will be signified by the “Train Entering Section” bell code (2 beats) sent by Ayford Jct and the time being recorded in the register:
  • We still do not clear any signals. First we try to get line clear for the train to proceed from us towards Charnton Rd.
  • Check that the line ahead is clear: ie that any previous train sent towards Charnton Rd has arrived there and cleared the section. You can see this from the train register in the last two columns.
  • If this line is clear, ensure that the train we are signalling is highlighted in the register, and click the “Up Main” block instrument. This requests “line clear” for the train from Charnton Rd: if Charnton Rd is able to accept the train, you will hear a single beat of the bell in ackowledgment, the time is recorded in the register and the block instrument indicator will change from red to white:
  • If Charnton Rd cannot accept the train, you will not get a bell in response, the block instrument will not go to free and the register will record the “ilc?” but not the “Acc” (Accepted) entries. In this case, you will not be able to pull number 10 lever - the up starter - as it is interlocked to the block instrument, and you will have to request line clear again later.
  • If we have obtained line clear from the next box, we can now pull off our signals. The correct order to pull the signals is No 11 (the home signal), No 10 (the starter) and then No 12 (the distant). Normal practice is to pull the signals in the order trains arrive at them, except for the distant which cannot be pulled off unless both the home and starters are off. If you look out of the window you will see the signals move as you pull the lever.
  • If we have not got line clear from the next box: correct practice is to leave all the signals at danger and look out of the window. When the train approaches it will slow down to stop at the home signal. Once the train has been brought almost to a stand at the home signal, we clear the home signal and bring the train up to the starter signal. Of course, we keep trying to get line clear, and as soon as we get it we can clear all three up signals.

When the train arrives:

  • Once the train arrives, and the whole train has passed the home signal, we put the home signal (no 11) back to danger. You will need to put the distant (no 12) back first as the home cannot be put back while the distant is off.
  • Notice how the train register records the time:
  • If there is another train following, this may be offered by Ayford Jct as soon as the first train clears the home signal, but of course you cannot accept it until the line is clear as far as your clearing point.

When the train leaves for Charnton Rd:

  • As the train passes your starting signal, the time is recorded in the up Ent box of the register:
  • Once the whole train has passed the starter, return the starter to danger

When the train reaches Charnton Rd:

  • You will hear the “out of section” bell code (2 - 1) from Charnton Rd and the time is recorded in the register:

Operating a down train

Is much the same, although using the other levers, the other block instruments and the other half of the register.


Moving on

Once you have mastered this simple box, try one of the other lever frames in the layout, see Charnton Rd for details of the layout and notes for operating the other boxes.


See Also


MRG 26/06/2013 14:31:55