logoTelegraph code words

A (one day) comprehensive listing

Last update 25 August 2017

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HABD and WILD | OLE neutral sections | Water troughs | Telegraphic codes | Buzzer codes

In the days before widespread telephone use (and even longer before email), the fastest way to send a message across the country was by the electric telegraph (telegram).  It was a costly system and was generally charged on the number of words transmitted.  To keep costs down, the railway companies devised a set of code words for regularly-used messages, each with a precise meaning.  Some codes are proper words in their own right (ALERT) and some an easy shorthand (WARNPASS for 'warn passengers' or EMCAR for 'empty carriage').  Others bear little resemblance to their message (DEBRIS or OHIO).

Codes changed over the years as requirements came and went, and individual railway companies had their own code systems, often with standard words across the industry.  Some of the codes are still used in the industry (such as SPATE for a temporary speed restriction withdrawn before published time) and in enthusiast slang, for example CAPE or FOOTEX.

Codes used to describe particular wagon or carriage types amounted to hundreds and are generally not included here.  This page intends to capture operational and infrastructure codes.

Official codes

The 1980s British Rail code book (catalogue number BR30064) had the preface thus:

The code words for phrases in regular use contained in this booklet must be used, where applicable in message transmitted via National Teleprinter Network, Telex or TOPS, but not in messages to members of the public.

Codes are presented alphabetically with known spelling mistakes in the source information corrected.

Code Description In use
ACK Acknowledge receipt BR, 1980s
ADEX Advertised day excursion GWR, 1939
BR, 1980s
AJAX No train signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on running lines or sidings on both sides of load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-2. BR, 1980s
ALERT Provide conductor between points named for guard of .......... BR, 1980s
AMBER Cancel my communication respecting .......... BR, 1980s
AMBPASS Withdraw notice intimating that restricted train service is in operation, but continue to exhibit WARNPASS notice. BR, 1980s
ARNO Undermentioned notice received. BR, 1980s
ARROW Reply on following subject. BR, 1980s
AXIS Reserve following accommodation. BR, 1980s
BAY Passengers in undermentioned train for .......... BR, 1980s
BERSEC Reserve second class sleeping berth in two berth compartment for .......... ACK. BR, 1980s
BESINGEN Reserve gent's single bedroom for .......... LMS, 1930s
BESINLA Reserve lady's single bedroom for .......... LMS, 1930s
BLOCSID The adjoining lines to be blocked when working from running line to siding and vice versa. BR, 1980s
BLOX All adjoining lines to be blocked when using crossovers, junctions and running connections. BR, 1980s
NR, 2016
BOYNE There is no water at the following station.  Instruct drivers. GWR, 1939
BROMIDE Wire full details of despatch. LNER
BULLET Bullion by following train for ..........* consisting of .......... †  Watch specially during transfer at your station/arrival and delivery.
* insert consignee's name and destination station.
insert number and description of packages.
BR, 1980s
BYRAG The following traffic may be accepted by arrangement only. BR, 1980s
CABBAGE Do you agree to following? BR, 1980s
CALVIN See KELVIN  
CAPE Undermentioned train/s will not run.  Advise all concerned.
(Believed derived from "cancelled at point of entry")
BR, 1980s
CARBON Can the following travel between points named? BR, 1980s
CAWCROS Extreme caution must be exercised when passing from main line to loops and sidings and vice versa and when in loops and sidings. BR, 1980s
CAWSTAB Should the load require to be recessed, great care must be taken to ensure that the load will clear structures and traffic on adjacent tracks. BR, 1980s
CENEND Loaded centrally, equally ended and suitably under-run. BR, 1980s
CHARTER Guaranteed Excursion. BR, 1980s
CHICORY Cannot trace delivery. Wire full description, marks, and contents, and say who complains. GWR, 1939
CHIK Following missing, urgently wanted.  Have special enquiries made and if with you forward immediately and reply. BR, 1980s
CHROME May travel as described subject to following restrictions. BR, 1980s
CICERO Special train/s will run as under.  Advise all concerned. BR, 1980s
CIRCUMA Trains must be diverted to alternative route(s). BR
COG Accommodation has been reserved. BR, 1980s
COLOC Private locomotive, cold, weight .......... tonnes travelling on own wheels from .......... to .......... per ..........  Arrange forward working. BR, 1980s
COMEX Following commercial explosives. BR, 1980s
CONFLICT No train conveying passengers or signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings mentioned on either side of the load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
COTTON Following military explosives. BR, 1980s
CREOLE Arrange to work forward. BR, 1980s
CUCKOO You will receive the following from .......... BR, 1980s
CURRANT Your enquiry respecting following.  I agree. BR, 1980s
CUTTLE Unable to reserve accommodation as requested. BR, 1980s
CYNIC Can only offer ordinary service.  Wire what decided. GWR, 1939
CYRUS Have matter put right at once. BR, 1980s
DAGGER Until the assent of .......... is obtained. BR, 1980s
DEBRIS I will advise you further. BR, 1980s
DEDIMUS Have you communicated with us in error? BR, 1980s
DEEPDENE Royal train (lowest security: 2 headlamps, bell code 4-4-4 accepted under standard block, shunt other trains 5 minutes before passage, public crossings 10 minutes, fewer other precautions than GROVE). BR, from 1949
DEEPLUS Royal train (intermediate security: as DEEPDENE but double block). by 1961
DERAIL Send quickly breakdown van, crane and gang; following derailed at .......... (give place and time). BR
DERWENT Your communication upon following subject received and has attention. BR, 1980s
DUB May travel as described without restriction. BR, 1980s
DUEDEST Arrival time at destination will be .......... BR, 1980s
DUTURN Wire turn of duty of undermentioned staff this week and next. LMS, 1930s (cross industry term)
DYKE Put .......... (train) in .......... (loop or yard). BR, 1980s
EARWIG Following urgently required. GWR, 1939
BR, 1980s
EGER Provide conductor between points named for driver of .......... BR, 1980s
EIDER Following said handed you by the undermentioned not reached destination.  Trace forward by wire, and advise me result, with full particulars.  If necessary see senders. BR, 1980s
EMCAR Special empty carriages. BR, 1980s
EXLO Exceptional load with speed or route restrictions only.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-1-6. BR, 1980s
FABRIC Must not exceed speed of .......... mph at/between .......... BR, 1980s
NR, 2016
FALCON No trace of receiving the following. BR, 1980s
FOCUS Arrange to strengthen the undermentioned train or trains as shown. BR, 1980s
FONET My/your telephone communication of .......... (give date). BR, 1980s
FOOTEX BR sponsored football train. BR, 1980s
FUNCO Vehicle with funeral party and corpse. BR
FUNGUS No trace of forwarding the following. BR, 1980s
FURNO Until further notice. BR, 1980s
GARON Undermentioned may travel as described. BR, 1980s
GOBI The following routing must be observed. BR, 1980s
GOLO My/your teleprint of .......... (give date). BR, 1980s
GOOSE Stop accepting following until further advised. BR, 1980s
GOSLING Cease forwarding the following until further notice. BR, 1980s
GROVE Royal train carrying monarch (maximum security: 4 headlamps, bell code 4-4-4, double block, shunt other trains 10 minutes before passage, close public level crossings 15 minutes before, secure all horses, water columns, barrows, etc. and numerous other precautions). SR, from 1942
HALFEX Halfday excursion. BR, 1980s
HAWK Following delivered on date named, and signed for by .......... BR, 1980s
HAZARD Running lines and/or sidings mentioned on both sides of the load to be clear.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
HOLLY Following now in order. BR, 1980s
HOOK Reserve first class compartment/s in undermentioned train. BR, 1980s
HOST Enquiry made by .......... for the undermentioned accommodation from ..........  Wire number of room or rooms you can reserve and terms. LMS, 1930s
HOSTA Can offer the following room or rooms for .......... terms..........  Wire if accepted. LMS, 1930s
HUMPEX Wagons or loads not to pass over shunting humps. BR, 1980s
INVAL Have invalid chair meet undermentioned train hence. BR, 1980s
JOAN Running lines and/or sidings mentioned on the left-hand side of the load looking in the direction of travel must be clear, and no train signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings on the right-hand side of the load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
NR, 2016
JUG Reserve the following accommodation for prisoner and escort. BR
KALE My/your letter of .......... (give date). BR, 1980s
KELVIN Train(s) as under start(ed) short of origin.
(Code is possibly CALVIN)
BR, 1980s
KIMBO Excess must be kept to .......... side throughout. BR, 1980s
LACER Must not use cross-overs between platforms. BR, 1980s
LAKE Inspector to accompany between. BR, 1980s
LEFPAS No train conveying passengers must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings mentioned on the left-hand side of the load looking in the direction of travel, and no train signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings on both sides of the load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
LIBNA Light engine left for .......... BR, 1950s
LONGLO Long-welded rail train that does not require the imposition of conditions of travel. BR, 1980s
LONGPROJ Within the provisions of the standard instructions and tables for long and projecting loads in Section D3, Table D1 Green Pages, Working Manual. BR, 1980s
LONGPROJAX Within the provisions of the standard instructions and tables for long and projecting loads in Section D3, Table D2 Green Pages, Working Manual. BR, 1980s
LOUGH Shunting horse ill.  Send relief. GWR, 1939
MARFOR To be marshalled next to the locomotive or immediately behind the fitted head. BR, 1980s
MARREAR To be marshalled next to the rear brake van. BR, 1980s
MILTA Milk Tank Trucks on which the milk tank (privately owned) is permanently fixed to the chassis (railway owned). LMS, 1930s (cross industry term)
MOSELLE Give matter special attention. BR, 1980s
MYSTEX Mystery excursion. BR, 1980s
NILE Following not to hand. LMS, 1930s
BR, 1980s
NOCLE Insufficient clearances exist at the following. BR, 1980s
NOG Not to pass under load gauges. BR, 1980s
NONCLERE ?  
NOTCH Cannot accept owing to .......... BR, 1980s
NOTRAMO Not to travel more than .......... (add to code "30 miles" or whatever distance is imposed) without stopping for examination by guard or accompanying Inspector. BR, 1980s
OBDOS Obtain details from Divisional Control. BR, 1980s
OGLO Out-of-gauge load where running lines or sidings need not be clear between points mentioned.  To be signalled by the Special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-1. BR, 1980s
OHIO Send on all speed. BR, 1980s
OPPOS Running lines and/or sidings mentioned on the right-hand side of the road looking in the direction of travel must be clear, and no train signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings on the left-hand side of the load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
NR, 2016
OSAGE Send men here for undermentioned engine to leave at .......... GWR, 1939
PALM Report fully by next train with reference to delay. GWR, 1939
PARSPEC Un-advertised party special. BR, 1980s
PINE Train(s) as under terminate(d) short of destination. BR, 1980s
POD Advise date and proof of delivery. BR, 1980s
REDE Arrange and advise all concerned. BR, 1980s
REDOUBLE Reserve double bedroom for .......... LMS, 1930s
RELIANCE Relying on your concurrence l have agreed. BR, 1980s
RESPAC Resume acceptance of traffic in strictly normal quantities for .......... BR, 1980s
RESPOND You may resume forwarding following. BR, 1980s
RESSEC Reserve second class seat/s in undermentioned train. BR, 1980s
RESUMP Cancel WARNPASS message.  Working now in order. BR, 1980s
REZONE Reserve first class seat/s in undermentioned train. BR, 1980s
RHONE Have you received the following? BR, 1980s
RIGPAS No train conveying passengers must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings mentioned on the right-hand side of the load looking in the direction of travel and no train signalled 2-6-2 or 2-6-3 must be allowed on the running lines and/or sidings on both sides of the load.  To be signalled by the special 'Is line clear?' signal 2-6-3. BR, 1980s
ROAR All concerned have agreed to conveyance of .......... dimensions as follows from .......... to .......... BR, 1980s
ROTANK Road Rail Trucks for conveyance of mobile milk tanks. LMS, 1930s (cross industry term)
SAP Keep me well advised. BR, 1980s
SAVO Crossovers at the following places not to be used. BR, 1980s
NR, 2016
SHUNTEX Not to be loose shunted over a hump or along the flat. BR, 1980s
SILK .......... here without funds.  Can you call at undermentioned address and collect fare, plus expenses as follows.  Wire result at once. BR
SKUNK Secure connection with .......... BR, 1980s
SLASH Stop accepting until further advised coal and coke to .......... BR, 1980s
SLATTERN Cannot agree to your proposal. BR, 1980s
SLEBO Reserve first class sleeping berth for .......... ACK. BR, 1980s
SLOG Advise arrival time destination. BR, 1980s
SMOKE Owing to fog in London Division restriction train service to operate in accordance with current fog-working notice. GWR, 1939
SPATE Trains between following points may run at ordinary speed on and after date named.  Withdraw restriction.
(Believed derived from "speed published and terminated early")
BR, 1980s
SPEDWAY Speed of trains required to be reduced to undermentioned miles per hour between following points on and after date named.  Arrange and reply. BR, 1980s
SPENO See special notice .......... (insert number) hence today. BR, 1980s
STORK We have no trace of your invoice; send copy next train. GWR, 1939
SULTAN Train conveying load must travel on .......... line as follows. BR, 1980s
SYMBOL Reserve second class compartment/s in undermentioned train. BR, 1980s
TAGUS Following hence today. BR, 1980s
THROSTLE Keep on hand for my order. BR, 1980s
TICK Following stopped for repairs. BR, 1980s
TURBOT Be prepared to deal with following on undermentioned train. BR, 1980s
URE It is important for following reason that undermentioned trains should be worked punctually.  Do all that is necessary, so far as you are concerned. BR, 1980s
VOLGA Reserve bed tonight for .......... LMS, 1930s
WALNUT Make all necessary arrangements, as far as you are concerned. BR, 1980s
WARNPASS Mishap has occurred at .......... (location).  Exhibit delay notice and warn passengers of possible delay/diversion. BR, 1980s
WESER Say what arrangements have been made. BR, 1980s
WILLOW I will make all necessary arrangements. BR, 1980s
WING Following still coming forward.  Make stop effective at once. BR, 1980s
WINGAGEX Within gauge in all respects except for .......... BR, 1980s
WORGAN Following work will not now be carried out.  Cancel all arrangements. BR, 1980s
ZOLA Can you send engine and men to undermentioned station?  If so, state time leaving. GWR, 1939

London & North Western Railway codes are available at this London & North Western Railway Society page.

Please select a feature list from the links below:

HABD and WILD | OLE neutral sections | Water troughs | Telegraphic codes | Buzzer codes

Unofficial codes

These code phrases were used on teleprinters together with the appropriate headcodes or over the phone at Birmingham New Street in the 1970s/80s.

Code Unofficial description
DRUNKEX Saturday night special train (usually a DMU) to and from Blackpool
KRANKEX Special train with interesting routing or traction
MYSTEX Special excursion going somewhere no one really wanted to go, especially on a wet Sunday e.g. Walsall to Cleethorpes (or vice versa)
Q-TRAIN Special run for the BTP travelling on local lines aimed at catching trespassers and vandals (but which usually only found academics doing weed surveys and similar)
WEEDEX Weedkiller train