The Hl System  camera.gif (1065 Byte)


In East Germany, beginning from 1959 a new signalling system was introduced. As opposed to the Hp (main/distant signal) system the new system (also called the ОСЖД [OSShD] system from Организация Сотрудничества Железных Дорог - Organisation for the Combined Operations of Railways) united the main signals in rear with the distants for the main signals in advance in one signal head.

The upper two lamps of the signal indicate the aspect to expect at the next signal. The lower part of the signal, along with the amber or green dot lines, indicates the speed valid from here on. You may regard the upper part as the distant signal, and the lower part as the main signal.

The aspects of the "main signal" (i.e. lower) part are:

kein gelbes Licht=Freie Fahrt mit Vmax Frei mit 100 km/h Frei mit 60 km/h Frei mit 40 km/h
max. speed 100 km/h 60 km/h 40 km/h
Halt halt, Rangierverbot aufgehoben gestörtes Signal darf passiert werden

Hl S (Schubhalt)

Hp 0: stop Hp 0+Ra 12:
shunting allowed
Hp 0+Zs 1:
pass defective signal or at danger
Hl S: see below

Let me point out a few things:

The aspects of the "distant signal" (i.e. upper) part are:

Freie Fahrt mit Vmax erwarten 100 km/h erwarten 40 oder 60 km/h erwarten Halt erwarten
expect clear expect 100 km/h expect 40 or 60 km/h expect stop

An Hl main signal is identified by the main signal post plate below. If an Hl signal is used as distant signal only, it is equipped only with (at maximum) the two top lamps, and the distant signal post plate is mounted below. Note that there may be distant signals having only one light, these could then show 'expect stop' (steady amber) or 'expect 40 or 60 km/h' (flashing amber).

An Hl signal serving as both main and distant signal was usually only identified by the main signal post plate, but from the 2000 rule book on these signals get a yellow triangle below the main signal post plate (just like the Ks combined signals).

For an overview of all Hl aspects see below.

Let some examples explain the Hl system:

Hl-kombiniertes Signal, Frei mit 40 km/h, freie Fahrt erwarten Hl-Vorsignal, Langsamfahrt mit 40 oder 60 km/h erwarten Hl-Vorsignalwiederholer: Freie Fahrt erwarten
Hl signal showing aspect Hl 3a:
40 km/h from here on, expect clear at next signal
Hl signal used as distant only showing aspect Hl 7:
expect 40 or 60 km/h at next signal
Distant signal repeater showing aspect Hl 1: expect clear

Other countries using the OSShD signalling system are all former COMECON countries and China, Iran, Korea, Vietnam. See also OSShD on this site or the official web site of the OSShD.

The signal heads and the arrangement of lamps in these countries vary, also some other aspects are used, e.g. Czechs and Slovaks use two different flashing intervals to show additional speeds, the lamps in Poland and Hungary are arranged in a vertical line, Poland uses one signal head while Hungary has two heads one above the other. However the aspects and meanings are very similar as you may verify.

Here I give examples of some OSShD signals:

DR: Schirm eines Hl-Signales

DR: Schirm eines EZMG-Signales MAV: Schirm eines ungarischen Signals PKP: Schirm eines polnischen Signals
DR Hl signal DR EZMG signal MÁV / Hungarian signal PKP / Polish signal

All Hl Aspects:

Main (here)

distant (expect)

max 100 km/h 40/60 km/h Stop
max line speed Hl 1 Hl 4 Hl 7 Hl 10
100 km/h Hl 2 Hl 5 Hl 8 Hl 11
60 km/h Hl 3b Hl 6b Hl 9b Hl 12b
40 km/h Hl 3a Hl 6a Hl 9a Hl 12a

Hp 0

Stop for pushing loco (Schubhalt)

Hl S (Schubhalt)

The Hl system is also used in the lignite mines, although simplified heads are used, displaying only a subset of all Hl aspects. In lignite mines, pushed trains do not require the head to be manned, so there is a special aspect, Hl S (Schubhalt, stop for pushed trains). That means the loco in rear must stop short of this signal (while the train head has then already passed the signal).