Indian Railways’ Train Horns and What They Mean

Do You Know Indian Railways has 11 Types of Horns? Here’s What They Mean

A train horn, which is a powerful air horn, serves as an audible warning device for the railway guards, staff, and passengers. It not just indicates the arrival or departure of the train, but every horn and its duration has a different meaning behind it. From signalling about the danger to changing tracks, there is a horn for every situation.

Below are the 11 types of train whistles or horns used by the Indian Railways and their meaning:

  1. One short horn – A small horn signals that the motorman will be taking the train in the yard for a wash-up and cleaning before it sets for the next trip.
  2. Two short horns – If the motorman gives two short horns, he is asking the guard to direct the railway signal to start the train.
  3. Three smaller horns – Three smaller horns, which are rarely witnessed, means that the motormen have lost control over the motor. This is a signal for the guard to immediately pull the vacuum break.
  4. Four smaller horns – Just in case there is a ‘technical issue’, the motorman can press four smaller horns to denote it. It also means that the train would not go ahead.
  5. Continuous horn – A continuous horn is blown to alert the passengers that the train will pass through stations without any halt.
  6. One long horn and one short – This horn, by the motorman, is to signal the guard to set the brake pipe system before they start the engine.
  7. Two long and two short horns – If the motorman is giving two long and two short horns, it means that he is signalling the guard to take control of the engine.
  8. Two horns with two pauses –When the train is about to run through a railway crossing, this signal is used to alert the passersby about the same.
  9. Two long and short horns – Whenever the motorman is about to change the tracks of the train, this particular horn is blown.
  10. Two short and one long horn – This horn sound indicates two possibilities, which includes that either a passenger has pulled a chain or the guard has pulled a vacuum break.
  11. Six times short hones – It’s not a pleasant signal as it means that the train is stuck in a dangerous situation.

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