The new railway companies offered the 19th century traveller the fastest method of transport.However with increasing speed the need for effective safety measures to protect passengers and staff became important.

The biggest problems for pioneering railway companies like London & Birmingham were :-
  • An inability to communicate between the trains and stations along the route.
  • Early steam trains did not have very good brakes!
  • Employee's were poorly educated and expected to work long hours.
  • Safety measures cost money which shareholders didn't like the company to spend.
Policeman with Flag
The first signalmen were policemen employed to look after the goods being transported and hold flags in different positions to warn trains of hazards
Time Interval Operation
The general instructions were to signal Danger to trains arriving at a station within 5 minutes of first train leaving;caution for 5 to 10 minutes and all clear if train had left more than 10 minutes ago.
If an accident or breakdown occured between stations a small device was placed on the track behind the train.The loud bang would be heard by the other train driver as the wheels passed over the detonator.
Early Signals
Signals were developed to be better placed ; bigger and more visible to drivers than flags and could be left in position if the person was called away.
Using pioneering electricity technology,early systems were primative using needles to spell out words and were often unreliable.