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Guide to the Railway Archive Reference System


The purpose of this guide is to set out and explain the RailRef System and provide access to the detailed information contained within it. The guide also sets out a correlation between the RailRef system and Engineers' Line Reference System (ELR) used by Network Rail which has a number of features in common.

The Line Codes, explained below, used in the system will also be found in use in the Signal Box Registers published by the Society and in the Archive Indexes. Elsewhere on the web site the Line Codes are being used to positively identify locations mentioned on the In Print pages to a railway company and line of route which will assist where names are repeated in different places. It is anticipated that their use will eventually extend to most, if not all, the Society's publications.

The various pages comprising this section of the web site are very much "work in progress" with additional information being added as time permits. This particularly applies to the county lists of industrial and private lines where the work of listing only started in September 2011. The numbered lists set out by railway operating company are unlikely to experience any further renumbering of Line Codes for lines where signalling is provided although some branch lines remain to be discovered and added.

The list of RailRef Line Codes on this web site is now the definitive list. In addition to the information on this web site a second database also exists and contains more information about the infrastructure underneath each Line Code.

It is hoped that researchers will use the system and contribute the relevant results of their research so that the information both here and in the master database can be expanded to the benefit of all. Contributions and corrections to and comments about these pages are welcomed and should be sent to the webmaster will be pleased to receive them.

Recent Updates

Click on the buttons below to find out more about the system ...


The RailRef system will (eventually) document the extents of every railway operated anywhere in the British Isles. Boundaries between railways in the lists are determined solely by operational responsibility.

An Act of Parliament on 19 August 1921 decreed that the majority of the railway companies of England, Scotland and Wales should be merged into four larger ones and thus the London Midland and Scottish, the London and North Eastern and Southern Railway companies came into being on 1 January 1923. The fourth company, the Great Western, was not new but was greatly expanded.

A further Act of Parliament on 13 April 1933 brought the London Underground railways together under the umbrella of the London Passenger Transport Board.

In Ireland the Free State Government passed an Act on 23 July 1924 amalgamating the railway companies operating wholly within the 26 Counties into the Great Southern Railways, and which came into being on 1 January 1925.

Companies that 'escaped' involvement in any of the three Acts or first commenced operations at later date are included in the system as are the companies operating in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and other smaller offshore islands generally regarded as being part of the British Isles.

Railway companies fall into one of three groups ...

Group 1 Railway companies that provided day to day public services for the carriage of passengers or goods, usually both, and were doing so when the relevant Railway Act became law. Several other companies are listed in these acts because they had legal existence at the time of enactment but were not operating services because such service provision responsibility had passed to others. This latter group of companies have their lines included with the company that actually operated them on a day to day basis.
Group 2 Industrial and Private railways that carried goods on their own behalf, including some that operated passenger services for their own employees, and controlled their lines by means of a signalling system.
Group 1 and 2 companies are allocated two letter codes as explained below. All lines known to be operated by the company are listed, including their industrial, dock and harbour railways and those lines where construction work commenced or was completed but never opened to traffic.
Group 3 Smaller Industrial and Private railways and significant private sidings connected to one of the lines in groups 1 or 2, brought together for convenience in 'county' lists. Companies in this group will not have two letter codes allocated unless they are found to be extensive enough to warrant such allocation.

Lines now operated by "Heritage" Railways are included in the lists of the relevant former operator.

Lines Excluded

Contractors' temporary lines during construction works,
Urban tramways,
Lines proposed or authorised but abandoned before construction commenced,
Quarries, works etc. internal lines never connected to the main railway network (most were narrow gauge).

Building a RailRef Identity

Each RailRef consists of two parts combining letters and numbers to uniquely identify any station, signal cabin, ground frame, bridge, level crossing or other item of railway infrastructure.

First Part - Line Codes

The Line Code part comes first and starts with 2 letters that are generally derived from the name of the company that owned or operated the line of route on the date of passing of the relevant Act (see Scope above). This is followed by three figures and then an optional suffix letter. The suffix letter is only added in cases where additional lines have been inserted since the list was first drafted and it was desired to avoid renumbering lists that were already in use.

Example Line Codes from the Midland Railway list are MR017 and MR017c.

Line Code Guidelines

Allocation of the numbers for each company follows as closely as practicable a set of guidelines used at the intial creation of the list:

1 Every line owned by the railway company to be listed, including short curves, spurs, colliery branches etc., regardless of whether they ever had any signalling.
2 A separate number to be given to every portion of line which diverges "significantly" from another.
3 Lines to be listed in "blocks", Each block commencing with a "king line" (or mainish line) followed by branches from it, listed in the order in which they diverge. Within the "block" every line to be immediately followed by the lines which diverge from it.
4 Ideally, each "block" should consist of 5 - 20 lines.
5 Each line to be given a 3 figure number.
6 The very first line to be number 001.
7 Each subsequent "block" to start with a "king line" with a number ending in 0 (e.g. 010, 030, 050, 110, 170).
8 Sufficient "spare" numbers to be left between each block to allow for new lines being built in the future - or in case research reveals any other lines. If necessary the "king line" at the head of the next block to be increased by 10 to give sufficient spares (at least 3).
9 Sufficient research to be carried out to ensure that the list of lines and numbers is a complete as reasonably possible. In theory the LINE numbers should never have to be reissued.
9a Long main lines to be divided into sections, to allow each block to be kept under 20 lines.
9b Joint lines to be allocated a number (in the proper sequence) under EACH of the parent companies to allow the user to file according to his preference. Thus LB019 is the same line as SW019 and NW020 (W.L.E.R).
Notes Line number 000 is reserved in each list for general notes.

The continuity of mileage is borne in mind when creating / checking line numbering lists.

Sequencing (3) of the "king lines" is normally in the down direction related to the start point of line 001.

Main lines (9a) should be split "clear" of junctions to avoid problems with replacement signalboxes "jumping" from one line number to another when a replacement is built in advance of the junction to replace a signalbox in rear of the junction etc.

It is advised that Joint Line lists be prepared before Company lists in order to ensure that the Joint Lines are listed the same way under each constituent company's list.

Second Part - Infrastructure Numbering

Within each Line Code the various signal cabins, ground frames etc. are sequentially numbered using three digits separated from the Line Code by a full stop in order they are reached in the down direction. Other items of infrastructure are usually given the same number or identity that they were given by the railway company.

An example of full RaiRef codes is taken from "Track Diagrams of the London North Western Railway and its Successors" by Reg Instone and Richard Foster, published by Wild Swan in 1988.

NW050.061 Dallington Heath signal cabin at 69m00c
NW050.062 Church Brampton signal cabin at 69m57c
NW050.063 Church Brampton station

Please note that only the Line Code portion of a complete RailRef is utilised on this web site.

Line Codes Listed By Company

Companies Allocated Two Letter Codes (Groups 1 and 2)

Companies in England, Scotland and Wales allocated two letter codes are generally those operating trains in August 1921, prior to the amalgamations and take-overs during 1922 consequent on, or in anticipation of, the 1921 Railway Act's implementation on 1 January 1923. Lines operated by companies that had ceased to have independent existence or operate trains before August 1921 are included within the company that owned or operated them at that time, as are lines operated on behalf of nominally independent companies.

Companies listed for Ireland, both north and south, allocated two letter codes are generally those operating trains in July 1924, prior to the amalgamation that created the Great Southern Railway. Lines operated by companies that had ceased to have independent existence before then are included within the company that owned or operated them at that time, as are several lines shown as 'absorbed companies' in the 1924 Act.

Allocation of Lines to Companies

Lines are allocated to the list of the company that was the day to day operator of the line immediately prior to the Acts of 1921, 1924 or 1933 as appropriate (see Scope above).

Joint Lines are allocated to the Joint Company that was the day to day operator of the line and are also included in the lists of each of the owning companies. Where no Joint Company is involved joint lines are simply listed in the list of each of the parties to the joint arrangement. Joint lines are denoted as such by the use of blue rather than black for the Line Description.

Lines and connections built after the Acts are placed to the most appropriate pre-grouping / pre-amalgamation company list. These later built lines are only regarded as 'joint' if such status still applied at the time of their opening even if the line has been placed in a Joint Company list.

Links are provided to allow easy navigation from one Line Code to another at junctions and across breaks in longer main lines.

Locations and mileages shown in the listings are intended to give an overall guide to the scope of each Line Code and assist identifying the lines in published railway atlases. They are not intended to be a complete list! There is more on the subject of milepost mileages below.

As at September 2011 the Line Codes listed are believed to be substantially complete in respect of main and signalled lines. Please be aware that some minor branches and siding complexes have yet to be fully identified and added to the lists.

Allocated Two Letter Codes

Allocated two letter codes are listed below. Clicking on the letters allows a quick jump to the first two letter code starting with that letter.


Each company page will open in a new window.

CodeCompany Name
ADAlexandra, Newport & South Wales Docks Railway
AJAxholme Joint Railway (LYR & NER)
ALAshover Light Railway
ANAshby & Nuneaton Joint Railway (MR & LNWR)
ASAlford & Sutton Tramway
BABere Alston & Calstock Light Railway
BCBishop's Castle Railway
BDBelfast & County Down Railway
BJBirkenhead Joint Railway (GWR & LNWR)
BMBrecon & Merthyr Railway
BNBessbrook & Newry Tramway
BPBurry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Railway
BWBideford, Westwood Ho! & Appledore Railway
BYBarry Railway
CACaledonian Railway; including
     Brechin & Edzell Railway
     Callender & Oban Railway
     Cathcart District Railway
     Killin Railway
     Lanarkshire & Ayrshire Railway
CBCastlederg & Victorian Bridge Railway
CDCleobury Mortimer & Ditton Priors Light Railway
CEClifton Extension Railway (GWR & MR)
CFCardiff Railway
CGCarlisle Goods Traffic Committee (CR, GSWR, LNWR & MR)
CHClogher Valley Railway
CJCarlisle Citadel Station Committee (CR & LNWR)
CKCockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway
CLCheshire Lines Commitee Railway (GCR, GNR & MR)
CMCambrian Railway
COCroydon & Oxted Joint Railway (SER & LBSCR)
CRCorris Railway
CTCampbeltown & Machrihanish Light Railway
CVColne Valley & Halstead Railway
CWCleator & Workington Junction Railway
DADundee & Arbroath Joint Railway (CR & NBR)
DBDumbarton & Balloch Joint Railway (CR & NBR)
DJCarlisle (Dentonholme) Station Committee (GSWR, MR & NBR)
DLCounty Donegal Joint Railway
DNDundalk, Newry & Greenore Railway
DRDocklands Light Railway
DSDublin South Eastern Railway; including
     Dublin & Kingstown Railway
DWDerwent Valley Light Railway
DYDublin & Blessington Railway
EAEasingwold Railway
EBEdenham & Little Bytham Railway
ECEaston & Church Hope Railway (GWR & LSWR)
EKEast Kent Railway
ELEast London Railway (LBSCR, MDR, GER & SER)
EWEast & West Yorkshire Union Railway
FFFfestiniog Railway
FNFurness Railway
FRFishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours
GAGiant's Causeway, Portrush & Bush Valley Railway
GBGlasgow, Barrhead & Kilmarnock Joint Railway (CR & GSWR)
GCGreat Central Railway
GDGreat Northern Railway (Ireland)
GEGreat Eastern Railway; including
     Wisbech & Upwell Tramway
GNGreat Northern Railway
GOGreat North of Scotland Railway
GPGlasgow & Paisley Joint Railway (CR & GSWR)
GRGuernsey Railway
GSGlasgow & South Western Railway
GTGlyn Valley Tramway
GUGlasgow Underground Railway
GWGreat Western Railway
GXGreat Southern & Western Railway; including
     Athenry & Tuam Extension to Claremorris Railway
     Cork City Railway
     Tralee & Fenit Railway
HBHull & Barnsley Railway
HRHighland Railway
HSHigh Speed Lines; including
     Channel Tunnel Rail Link
     Channel Tunnel
     High Speed Two
ICIsle of Wight Central Railway
IFFreshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Railway
IMIsle of Man Railway
IWIsle of Wight Railway
JEJersey Eastern Railway
JNGreat Northern & Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNR & GER)
JRJersey Railway
KBKilsyth & Bonnybridge Joint Railway
KEKent & East Sussex Railway
KNKnott End Railway
LALynton & Barnstaple Railway
LBLondon Brighton & South Coast Railway
LELondon Electric Railway
LIListowel & Ballybunnion Railway
LMLlanelly & Mynydd Mawr Railway
LNSligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway
LOLiverpool Overhead Railway
LSLondonderry & Lough Swilley Railway
LULancashire Union Joint Railway (LNWR & LYR)
LYLancashire & Yorkshire Railway; including
     Dearne Valley Railway
MAManchester South Junction & Altrincham Joint Railway (GCR & LNWR)
MCMaryport & Carlisle Railway
MDMetropolitan District Railway
MGMidland & Great Northern Joint Railway
MHMersey Docks & Harbour Railway
MIMidland Great Western Railway; including
     Ballinrobe & Claremorris Light Railway
     Loughrea & Attymon Light Railway
MJStratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway
MLMid Suffolk Light Railway
MMSwansea & Mumbles Railway
MRMidland Railway; including
     London Tilbury & Southend Railway
MTMetropolitan Railway
MWMidland & South Western Junction Railway
MXManx Electric Railway
MYMersey Railway
NBNorth British Railway; including
     Forth & Clyde Junction Railway
     Gifford & Forth Bridge Railway
     Gifford & Garvald Light Railway
NCNorthern Counties Committee
NDNorth Sunderland Railway
NENorth Eastern Railway; including
     Brackenhill Light Railway
     Tyne & Wear Metro
NGNorth Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (Welsh Highland Railway)
NHNeath & Brecon Railway
NSNorth Staffordshire Railway
NUNorth Union Joint Railway
NVNidd Valley Light Railway
NWLondon & North Western Railway; including
     North London Railway
OGOldham, Ashton & Guide Bridge Railway (GCR & LNWR)
OIOtley & Ilkley Joint Railway (MR & NER)
PCPortmadoc, Croesor & Beddgelert Railway
PDPrinces Dock Joint Railway (CR, GSWR & NBR)
PLPort of London Authority Railway
PPParsontown & Portumna Bridge Railway
PRPreston & Longridge Joint Railway (LNWR & LYR)
PTPort Talbot Railway
PWPortpatrick & Wigtownshire Joint Railway
PYPreston & Wyre Railway (LYR, & LNWR)
QYQuakers Yard & Merthyr Joint Railway (GWR & RR)
RCRye & Camber Tramway Railway
RERavenglass & Eskdale Railway
RKRowrah & Kelton Fell Railway
RRRhymney Railway
RSRhondda & Swansea Bay Railway
RYRomney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway
SBSnailbeach District Railway
SCSchull & Skibbereen Railway
SDSomerset & Dorset Joint Railway (LSWR & MR)
SESouth Eastern & Chatham Railway Committee
SHShrewsbury & Hereford Railway (GWR & LNWR)
SISelsey Light Railway (renamed West Sussex 10/01/1924)
SJShrewsbury & Wellington Railway (GWR & LNWR)
SKSwinton & Knottingley Railway (MR & NER); including
     Wath Curve Joint Committee Railway (GCR, MR & NER)
SLSouth Wales Mineral Railway
SMShropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway
SNSnowdon Mountain Railway
SPShrewsbury & Welshpool Railway (GWR & LNWR)
SSSouth Shields, Marsden & Whitburn Colliery Railway
STSouthwold Railway
SVSevern & Wye Railway (GWR & MR)
SWLondon & South Western Railway
SYSouth Yorkshire Joint Railway (LMSR & LNER)
TATalyllyn Railway
TBTaff Bargoed Joint Railway (GWR & RR)
TCTimoleague & Courtmacsherry Light Railway; including
     Ballinascarthy & Timoleague Junction Light Railway
TDTralee & Dingle Railway
THTottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway (GER & MR)
TVTaff Vale Railway
WBWhitechapel & Bow Joint Railway
WCWeston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway
WEWest London Extension Railway (GWR, LBSCR, LNWR, & LSWR)
WHWhitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Joint Railway (FR & LNWR)
WIWirral Railway
WLWest London Railway (GWR, LBSCR, LNWR, & LSWR)
WPWeymouth & Portland Joint Railway (GWR & LSWR)
WRWest Riding & Grimsby Joint Railway (GCR & GNR)
WSWoodside & South Croydon Railway (SER & LBSCR)
WTWantage Tramway
WVWarrenpoint & Rosetrevor Railway
WWWaterford & Tramore Railway
WXWrexham & Minera Joint Railway (GWR & LNWR)
WZWest Clare Railway; including
     South Clare Railways
ZLCavan & Leitrim Railway
ZMCork & Macroom Direct Railway
ZPCork, Blackrock & Passage Railway
ZRCork & Muskerry Light Railway; including
     Donoughmore Extension Light Railway
ZSCork, Bandon & South Coast Direct Railway; including
     Baltimore Extension Railway
     Bantry Bay Extension Railway
     Clonakilty Extension Railway

Industrial and Private Lines (Group 3)

Included here are the Industrial and Private lines, effectively the lines of any company or organisation that has not been allocated a two letter code. These lists are in their infancy and far from complete.

A separate page will eventually exist for each historic county or island group. Each page opens in a new window. Within each page lines are arranged in sequence based on the RailRef Line Code of the line to which they were attached. Lines that were not connected to the national network appear at the end of the page.

I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation as to why some private lines which never formed part of British Rail have acquired Engineer's Line References although one possibility is that BR or its predecessors maintained the line under contract to the owner; and another is being lumbered (inherited?) with infrastructure liabilities.

Pages have so far been created for:


Co Durham
Lincolnshire Middlesex


Dublin (L)

C Connaught,  L Leinster,  M Munster,  U Ulster


East Lothian
County of Moray
Ross & Cromarty
West Lothian


Denbighshire / Sir Ddinbych
Flintshire / Sir Fflint
Monmouthshire / Sir Fynwy

Off-Shore Islands

Isle of Man

Information Shown

Within each of the Company lists Line Code information is set out in tabular form, spread over four columns. The column entries are -

RailRef The Line Code used in RailRef system as explained in this guide.
Line Detail The principal locations included within the Line Code. They are arranged in 'down' direction order. Locations shown are primarily stations and junctions to allow easy cross check against published atlases. Signal box names appear in italics where these are 'intermediate' to stations or have been shown to facilitate links from other pages on this web site. The inclusion of a station or junction name does not imply that there was always a signal box of that same name!
SBR The section reference used in the relevant Signal Box Register published by the Society.
ELR The corresponding Engineer's Line Reference(s). This will be blank for railways that never came within British Railways terms of reference. It will also be blank where British Railways had no surviving responsibility for infrastructure at the time the ELR system came into use.

Milepost Mileage

Locations and mileages shown in the listings on this web site are intended to give an overall guide to the scope of each Line Code and allow identification of the lines in published railway atlases. They are not intended to be a complete list! A more complete list of locations and infrastructure was being built on the master database.

Within each Line Code the mile post mileage is given for the locations listed, where it is known or can be reliably calculated. Official sources have been used as the basis where available but it must be appreciated that official records are sometimes in error. Even today Network Rail does not acknowledge some 'changes of mileage' boundaries in the Sectional Appendix 'table A' entries. Mileages given here are generally to the nearest chain and the datum (zero point) used is quoted where it is not immediately obvious within the Line Code.

Quoted mileages may vary a little over the years as junctions are remodelled or a different average position is taken within more complex junctions or errors are corrected. Some junctions have 'upped sticks' and moved quite some way from their original position when major alterations have occurred or an older junction name has been reused.

Terminal station mileages are usually calculated from the buffer stops at the concourse end of the platforms or from the back of the concourse. However, station reconstructions have led to several terminals no longer being treated as being at the zero point.

Intermediate stations are usually calculated at the 'mid point' and thus can appear to move when platforms are lengthened and a new mid point is calculated. Bear in mind that a BR Mark 1 carriage at 63 feet over buffers is almost 1 chain in length so a four coach platform extension at one end will move the calculated point by 2 chains!

Zero points are often taken from a company boundary or a junction with a 'main' line.

Legal Requirement

Parliament was clearly minded to bring the railways into the same general situation that applied to Turnpike Roads and Canals, namely that they should display distance markers that would allow their customers to verify that they were being charged correctly. Accordingly clauses were included in the sections of the various Acts authorising the railway to charge Tolls that required the erection of markers at quarter mile intervals. This requirement was enforced by only allowing Tolls to be collected if the markers were present and visible. Each company was left free to decide preisely how this was to be done and where it measured from with the result that practices varied.

The requirement to erect mile posts then appeared in the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 and Railways Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845. These required that:

“The Company shall cause the Length of the Railway to be measured, and Milestones, Posts, or other conspicuous Objects to be set up and maintained along the whole Line thereof, at the Distance of One Quarter of a Mile from each other, with Numbers or Marks inscribed thereon denoting such Distances.”
A further provision was:
“No Tolls shall be demanded or taken by the Company for the Use of the Railway during any Time at which the Boards hereinbefore directed to be exhibited shall not be so exhibited, or at which the Milestones herein-before directed to be set up and maintained shall not be so set up and maintained”.

The passing of these Acts allowed subsequent acts authorising new and extended railways to refer to these 1845 Acts rather than simply repeat the clauses ad nauseum.

During the construction of these pages it has become increasingly clear that many milepost mileages have altered over the years and not just because of a change of ownership. The latter part of the 20th century saw great reduction in the frequency of this.

Sections of railway have been 'remiled' either when substantially altered or following the discovery of errors in the distances set out. The Midland Railway undertook a major 'remiling' exercise affecting most of their lines early in the 20th century and John Gough's notes about this can be read here. Other railways that have carried out similar or major remiling exercises at some stage include the Great Northern Railway, North Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway.

Evidence of early 'remiling' can often be found by comparing 19th century Ordnance Survey maps against modern records although it does seem that the Ordnance Survey may have taken some time to catch up with changes. Perhaps this is why they later dropped quoting the actual mileage and origin on their maps. Notes about milepost policy and large scale changes appear in the preamble to each company page where appropriate and a note is placed under each Line Code where a more localised change of milepost mileages is known to have taken place.

Engineers' Line References (ELR)

ELRs are only applicable to some of the lines that became part of British Railways on 1 January 1948, excluding the Northern Counties Committee. Other railways are not included in this system.

The system was devised by British Rail, Western Region who introduced three letter codes based on the Great Western Railway's line names thus "Main Line" became MLN. When the system was extended nationally in the 1980s some of the initial codes were altered and some changes still occur today. The system is still in use by Network Rail, buried within the Geographical Information System (GEOGIS), used in Table 'A' of current Sectional Appendices 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. An excellent listing and a more detailed explanation can be found on Phil Deaves web site which now contains greater detail of the content of many of the ELRs.

The British Rail issued "ELR Maps For The GEOGIS System" dated May 1988 states:

An ELR is defined as a route that has continuous mileage (containing no jumps in mileage, either forward or backward) and containing no duplicated bridge / structure number or identifier: thus an ELR Code plus a mileage, in miles and yards, identifies a unique location within BR. Each route code has either three alpha characters or three alpha characters and one numeric."

Like all good rules, it seems broken in places. And the location of some ELRs has eluded us for now.

A note of caution regarding quoted ELR mileages on lines, particularly branch lines, that had closed before the system went into use. The mileages can well represent less than the true extent of the line and this is probably due to the branch terminal area having been sold off leaving BR responsiblity to end on the approaches.

Cross Referencing the Systems

The RailRef Line Codes provide comprehensive coverage of the railways. ELRs only exist (or should only exist) where the line was operational in 1988 when GEOGIS came into use or British Rail still had responsibility for items of infrastructure on lines that had closed.

The various Acts of Parliament authorising construction of railways included a provision that the railway company (or its successors) must continue to be responsible for the infrastructure they created even after closure of the line. This responsibility continued for ever unless they could eliminate the item concerned or they were able to persuade someone else to take on that liability.

British Rail's liabilities included infrastructure on lines closed long before grouping let alone nationalisation and avoidance of the costs of these responsibilities undoubtedly led to the rapid demise of many bridges and viaducts soon after line closure. This responsibility for closed line infrastructure passed to British Rail (Residuary) Ltd in 1994 rather than to Railtrack.

Quite a few sections of railway that closed before ELRs came into use and where no residual responsibility remained thus have no ELR at all.

A series of pages has been created to allow the Line Code(s) for which an ELR exists to be located easily. There is a separate page for each initial letter of the ELRs; thus the page 'A' contains the ELRs from AAA to AZZ in alphabetical sequence and similarly for the others and there are 26 such pages.


Each ELR page will open in a new window and contains the cross reference information in tabular form:

ELR The Engineer's Line Reference Code.
BR-NR Whether or not the code has been listed in a British Rail, Railtrack or Network Rail Sectional Appendix or published in one or more editions of the Railway Track Diagrams (Quail volumes 1 to 5 now published by TrackMaps) or included the GEOGIS database or are included in infrastructure lists originating with BR Residual. If blank the origin of the ELR is uncertain because the Society has not had sight of any official rail industry document listing that ELR.
Line Name Name or other defining description. These are not necessarily the same description used by other publications or web sites.
RailRef The corresponding Line Code(s). Fuller detail will be found by following the link(s) in this column.

Bridges and Tunnels

Bridges and other similar structures are generally numbered in sequence along a railway line. Included in the number sequence are over bridges, under bridges, foot bridges, intersection bridges (where two lines cross), side bridges (not actually passing over or under the line), tunnels and subways.

Railway companies usually started their bridge numbering at one end of the line and continued in straight numerical sequence along the line. In most cases a separate number series existed for each line, thus most railway companies had more than one bridge 1 and so on. Renumbering of bridges is relatively rare but not unknown.

Most number sequences date from the building of the line although with the passage of time and loss of some bridges there are now gaps in many sequences. Long routes which are generally seen as 'one line' today often have several sequences of numbers with the 'restart' positions echoing the boundary between the original owners of the line.

Where additional structures were added after the initial numbering exercise, each additional structure received the number of the bridge immediately preceding plus a suffix letter. Thus a new bridge added between bridges 1 and 2 would be 1A. The suffixed numbers were allocated in order of construction and thus a situation of additional structures added from time to time can give rise to a sequence such as 1 1A 1C 1B 2 and so on.

The most notable exception to the general practice was the Great Western Railway which numbered each structure using the relevant milepost mileage. This practice continues to this day on the Western Zone of Network Rail. However, bridges transferred by British Railways from the Western Region to the London Midland Region in the course of regional boundary changes were then given a numerical numbering sequence by the new 'owner'.

In or about 1909 the Great Eastern Railway renumbered all its bridges in a single, company wide, number sequence. A copy of the bridge numbering book from that time can be obtained from the Great Eastern Railway Society.

Current Network Rail practice is to generally number each structure in three places - facing the driver of any approaching train from either direction and one visible from the roadway - adding in the Engineers' Line Reference (see above) and the milepost mileage. Roadside information also includes a contact telephone number for emergency reporting. Not all bridges comply with this policy, particularly footbridges and subways within a station.

A unique structure reference is thus generated using a combination of ELR and bridge number or, similarly, using a combination of RailRef and bridge number.

Reference Books Consulted

A number of different reference books have been consulted in the production of these listings in addition to the results of research by SRS members and various Sectional Appendices published by the railway companies. Many of them are now out of print but can be obtained second hand from various sources.

Members seeking a greater depth of information are recommended to obtain copies of those listed that relate to their area of interest.

The books consulted include ....

Title Publisher
Pre-Grouping Railway Junction Diagrams 1914 Railway Clearing House
(Ian Allan reprint undated)
Midland Railway System Maps & Distance Diagrams Cumbrian Railways Association (1), Peter Kay (the rest)
The Great Western Railway by P R Gale Great Western Railway, 1926
(Avon-Anglia reprint 1986)
A Railway Atlas of Ireland by S Maxwell Hajducki David & Charles, 1974
Railway Track Diagrams Quail / Railway Track Diagrams, 1988 et seq
National Series of Waterway, Tramway & Railway Atlases, G L Crowther G L Crowther, 1990 et seq.
Atlas of The Great Western Railway, R A Cooke Wild Swan Publications, 1997
Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of the Railways of Ireland Midland Publishing, 1997
The Railways of Great Britain, A Historical Atlas, Colonel M H Cobb Ian Allan, 2003
Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain, M Quick Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2009
Register of British Railway and Tramroad Companies Incorporated Before 1948, Anthony R Warren Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2005