4-character Train Reporting Numbers

All trains running on the British railway system were allocated a 4 character identification code - called a train reporting number or headcode, for once it was carried on a display panel on the front of the train. This practice of displaying the headcode was abandoned on the 1st January 1976, so there are very few pictures on my site of trains carrying headcodes - especially as many of the locomotives and most of the DMUs running along the North Wales Coast at that time were not equipped to display the 4 character headcodes anyway!

However, the code was (and still is) used to identify the trains in the working timetable and for train reporting. In the 4-character code, the first position indicates the classification of the train, the second the destination indication as shown in Table 1, and the third and fourth positions the identity number, or, in the case of Class 2 and empty coaching stock trains, the route indication as shown in Table 2.

A number of services which have codes defined in these tables no longer run. Indeed, some of them had ceased before these tables were issued in 1976. Notable are the codes for Rock Ferry, Liverpool Lime St to N.Wales, Runcorn-Chester and New Brighton-Wrexham. Even Aberystwyth-Devil's Bridge appears.

Table 1 - Destination Indication Letters

LetterDestination DivisionLetterDestination RegionLetterOther Type
ALondonEEasternLSpecial train within division
BLondonMLondon MidlandT(Passenger) Special train within division
CLondonOSouthernT(Freight) Trip Working
DStoke-on-Trent / NottinghamSScottishXRoyal trains and Out-of-Gauge Loads
FNottingham / LiverpoolVWesternZSpecial train outside division
GBirmingham(N)(North Eastern)(redundant)  
HBirmingham / Manchester    
JStoke-on-Trent / Manchester    
KStoke-on-Trent    
PNottingham / Preston    

Table 2 - Route Indication Numbers - Class 2 and Empty Stock Trains

Trains betweenandViaRoute Number
Blythe Bridge / CreweChester 50
Wolverhampton HLShrewsbury 51
CreweRhyl 51
Blythe Bridge / CreweLlandudno 52
CreweBangor 53
Wolverhampton HLAberystwyth 54
Stoke-on-Trent / CreweHolyhead 54
ChesterRhyl 56
ShrewsburyAberystwyth 57
ChesterHolyhead 58
Manchester Oxford RdChester 59
ShrewsburyChester 60
ShrewsburyCardiff 61
Manchester Vic / WarringtonChester 61
Manchester Vic / WarringtonLlandudno 62
Birmingham New StBarmouthShrewsbury65
Wolverhampton HLChesterShrewsbury66
PrestatynLlandudno 67
CreweCardiffHereford67
RhylBangor 68
Birmingham New StAberystwythShrewsbury69
RhylHolyhead 69
LlandudnoBlaenau Ffestiniog 70
RuncornChester 71
LlandudnoBangor 73
Rock FerryHelsby 73
LlandudnoHolyhead 74
ShrewsburyMachynlleth 74
Rock FerryChester 75
MachynllethAberystwyth 75
Rock FerryHolyhead 76
MachynllethBarmouth 76
Dovey JnBarmouth 77
Rock FerryLlandudno 77
BarmouthPwllheli 78
Birkenhead NorthWrexham Gen 78
New BrightonHawarden Bridge / Wrexham Cent 79
MachynllethPwllheli 79
Birkenhead NorthHawarden Bridge / Wrexham Cent 80
AberystwythPwllheli 80
LiverpoolRhyl 81
LiverpoolLlandudno 82
LiverpoolBangor 83
LiverpoolHolyhead 84
Colwyn Bay / Llandudno Jn Blaenau Ffestiniog 85
Llandudno Jn Llandudno 87
Llandudno Jn Bangor 88
Llandudno Jn Holyhead 89
Wrexham CentWrexham Gen 90
Manchester PicLlandudno 90
ChesterWrexham CentWrexham Ex91
ShrewsburySwansea 93
BangorHolyhead 94
ChesterManchester Pic 95
Rock FerryBirkenhead 97
AberystwythDevil's Bridge 98
Manchester Vic / WarringtonHolyhead 98
Manchester Vic / WarringtonBangor 99

1614 at Britannia Bridge 08/73

Back in 1973, Class 47 1614 runs light engine from Holyhead, carrying code 0Z00 - indicating that it was returning to depot - probably Crewe.

47137 at Crewe Works 08/75

Seen at a Crewe Works Open Day in 1975, 47137 is ready for a return to traffic, complete with an appropriate headcode for Crewe.

47444 at Bangor 20/04/76

Following the edict of 1st January 1976 that all headcode displays should be set to '0000', 47444 is seen at Bangor on the 20th April 1976 working the 15:40 to Euston - train 1A72.

24133 at Crewe 19/02/77

For a special working on 19th February 1977 from Crewe to Blaenau Ffestiniog and Holyhead, 24133 (the only remaining headcode fitted Class 24) had its headcode display brought back into use to show the reporting number of the train - '1L27'.

47187 at Rhyl 24/07/76

On busy days along the North Wales coast with its mechanical signal boxes, it sometimes became necessary for trains to carry their headcode. This was usually done with carriage labels, as seen here. 47187 carries 1P72 on 24th July 1976