Railway signalling discussion

Purpose of This Forum

Q&A relating to the SRS RailRef system, Engineers' Line References, and Milepost Mileages

Purpose of This Forum

Unread postby SRS Webmaster » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:31 pm

To ask various questions and seek answers.

I am engaged on a project to cross reference the Signalling Record Society (SRS) RailRef system with the Engineers' Line References (ELR) used within the railway industry. I anticipate starting to show the results of the project on the SRS web site later this year although the project will still be 'under construction' at that stage. Carrying out this project is generating a considerable number of research questions and I hope by using this forum to see if other forum members are able to provide the answers. Some of the questions relate to milepost mileages and their origin (datum) points.

For those of you not familiar with the SRS RailRef system these explanatory notes should help.

More than 22 years ago The SRS devised a system for uniquely identifying locations on the British railway network. The system allocates a master reference to each section of railway line either built or where construction started but was not completed by the railway companies that provided public services carrying freight or passengers or both. Private, military and purely industrial lines are not included at this stage. RailRefs are based on the railway companies as they existed at the passing of the Railways Act in 1921 (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Railways Act in 1924 (Irish Free State). The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are included. Lines opened since 1921/1924 are allocated to the most suitable pre-grouping company list. Using with master reference in conjuction with a sequential number or milepost mileage provides a unique location reference for railway infrastructure that is more comprehensive than other similar systems.

ELRs were devised by British Rail, Western Region. Three letter codes were introduced based on the Great Western Railway's line names thus "Main Line" became MLN. Once the system was extended nationally in the 1980s some of the initial codes were altered. ELRs were allocated to all lines, including closed ones, where British Rail had responsibility for items of infrastructure. The system is still in use by Network Rail, buried within GEOGIS, and published in the Quail series of Railway Track Diagrams. The ELR is visible on many items of railway infrastructure items such as bridges, culverts and so on. A good deal of information and a listing of ELRs has been posted on the internet by Phil Deaves at

Contributions and relevant questions and answers are invited from anyone registered to The Signal Box Forums but please keep to the following guidelines.

1. Keep each post strictly to the original subject for that thread.
2. Start a new thread if it is a new subject or a different topic. By all means post a 'cross reference' between the threads if this is appropriate.
3. When posting answers it will be helpful, wherever possible, to cite the source of the answer. If necessary please provide a link to where the detail can be found on the web.

Thanking you all in anticipation.
John Lacy, Webmaster & Publications Officer, Signalling Record Society.
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