Dispatching in Zentralstellwerk Essen Hbf

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Before you get your approval to run the service on a signal box, you need to find out about the local characteristics. After training as a general trainee signalman, dispatchers were always paired with a person skilled in the signal box. This chapter is the brief introduction to the area. Read it carefully. It contains very important information.

The text is "peer to peer" written as if you are in the signal box, the first day after training.

Have a more detailed look at the Sp Dr S 60-Zentralstellwerk Essen Hbf panel here.

Zentralstellwerk Essen Hbf


Hallo and welcome to the Signalling Centre of Essen Hbf (Ef).

The Power Signal Box of Essen Central Station was build in 1974 and is of the type Sp Dr S 60. It contains the lines to Mülheim, Essen-Steele, Gelsenkirchen-Rotthausen and Ratingen Ost.

Essen Central Station has 14 platform tracks for approximately 150,000 passengers per day. The Signalling Centre is occupied with 2 dispatchers, 2 dispatcher-helpers that run the trains 24/7 in this area.

The panel is divided in two distinctive parts:

  • light grey: this is the commuter lines area
  • dark grey: this is the long distance trains area

The long distance and S-Bahn services are separated from each other. Only on the line towards Gelsenkirchen via Essen-Kray Nord has mixed train services.

There is also an orange area on the panel. Those represent dispatching areas, which are normally not operated from signal box Ef and have there own switch guards. However, the signal box Ef can take over control and remotely control these areas. Those areas are:

The former shunt yard Essen (Rangierbahnhof Essen (ERO / EE O) ) has been shut down! Only tracks 313 through 315 are still being used for turning around ICE and Thalys services.

The eastern part is Essen Waldthausen. In reality, this yard is operated from signal box Wsb II. But this yard can also be remotely operated from signal box Ef, which is implemented as such in this simulation!

It is pretty important that you get familiarized with the entire panel. Especially the locations and main tracks are important to know.

The Lines

Main lines (Fernbahn)

  • 2300 Mülheim-Styrum – Essen
  • 2160 Essen – Bochum


  • 2291 Mülheim-Styrum – Bochum
  • 2163 Essen Hbf – Essen Kray Nord
  • 2168 Essen-Kray Nord – Gelsenkirchen
  • 2161 Essen-Werden – Essen Hbf
  • 2400 Essen-Werden – Düsseldorf Hbf (Ruhrtalbahn towards Düsseldorf)
  • 2280 (Essen West–) - Abzw. Schönebeck – Frintrop (towards Bottrop Hbf)

Neighbouring Dispatching Areas

Ratingen Ost (KRAO)

towards/from Ratingen Ost

Above, in the middle, we see the tracks towards/from Ratingen Ost, and then on to Düsseldorf main station (Hbf). This line is the Ruhrtalbahn and is serviced by S-Bahn S6 Rhein-Ruhr (Köln Nippes-Düsseldorf Hbf-Essen Hbf) . Our neighbour here is the dispatcher Ratingen Ost (Rof).

Essen-Steele (EEST)

towards/from Essen-Steele Ost

The tracks 940/942 lead to Essen-Steele. On this line is serviced by the S1 service Dortmund Hbf-Solingen Hbf, the S3 service Hattingen (Ruhr) Mittle-Oberhausen Hbf and the S9 service Wuppertal Hbf-Haltern am See. Our neighbour is here is dispatcher Essen-Steele Ost (Sof). There is also a freight (Gz) track towards/from Essen-Steele, which can be used into both directions.

Bochum Wattenscheid (EWAT)

towards/from Bochum Hbf

The tracks 948/949 are the main line tracks (Ferngleise) to and from Bochum Wattenscheid. Our neighbour is here dispatcher Bochum Hbf (Bf). GWB (bi-directional operations) is possible on both tracks.

Gelsenkirchen Hbf (EG)

towards/from Gelsenkirchen Hbf

The tracks 993/994 connect us to Gelsenkirchen Hbf. The services S2 Dortmund Hbf-Essen Hbf, the RE2 Münster (Westphalia)-Dusseldorf Hbf and the RB42 Haltern am See-Essen Hbf run on this line. Our neighbour here is the dispatcher Gelsenkirchen Hbf (Gf). Left hand running is not possible on this line.

Mülheim (Ruhr)-Heißen (EMRH)

towards/from Mülheim (Ruhr)-Heißen

On the top right track 463 leads to/from Mülheim (Ruhr) Heißen. This track was declared to be a station track of station Essen West! The existing junction towards Essen Borbeck Süd (track 460) has been decommissioned and shows a permanent track occupation. The still existing main signals S 457 and T 461 are out of service and may not / cannot be operated!

Movements to Mülheim (Ruhr)-Heißen have to be offered to dispatcher Mülheim (Ruhr)-Heißen (Hmt) by telephone, and will be handled as shunt movements.

Mülheim (Ruhr) Hbf (EMLR)

towards/from Mülheim (Ruhr)-Styrum

Also on the top right, we have the four tracks to and from Mülheim (Ruhr) Hbf . The tracks 905 (main line) and 915 (S-Bahn) come from Mülheim (Ruhr) Hbf. Directly below are tracks 918 (S-Bahn) and 908 (main line) towards Mülheim (Ruhr) Hbf. S-Bahn tracks are serviced by the S1 Dortmund Hbf-Solingen Hbf and the line S3 Hattingen Mitte-Oberhausen. Our neighbour there is dispatcher Mülheim-Styrum (Mf). There is no GWB (bi-directional operation) available on this line.

Essen Borbeck Süd (EEBS)

towards/from Bottrop Hbf

Finally on the top right, there are the tracks 452 and 453 to and from Essen Borbeck Süd. GWB operation is not possible on this line. Our neighbour there is dispatcher Bottrop Hbf (Bof). The service S9 Haltern am See-Bottrop Hbf-Wuppertal Hbf and the service RE14 Essen Hbf-Borken (Westphalia) run on this line. The RE14 is operated by the NordWestBahn (NWB).

Stations and Sidings

Let's have a more detailed look at our stations and sidings:

Towards Ratingen Ost (KRAO)


The remotely operated signal boxes along this line are of type S2 and S59. The stations are represented in a simplified form and not all signals are shown. Those signal boxes have to be operated locally for shunting, alternative operations or in case of malfunctioning (not implemented in the simulation).

Hösel (EHOS)


The first station along the Ruhrtalbahn station of Hösel. Both tracks have an outer platform. This station is part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Kettwig - Hösel, which can be operated locally.

Kettwig Stausee (EKGS)

Kettwig Stausee

The next stop along the Ruhrtalbahn is Kettwig Stausee. An island platform is located between the both trakcs. The line between Kettwig Stausee and Hösel is single track, as the Höseler Tunnel is located on this part of the line. This stop is part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Kettwig - Hösel.

Kettwig (EKG)


Next is the station of Kettwig. Here we have an outer platform along track 851, and an island platform in between tracks 852 and 853. Trains normally only stop at tracks 851 and 852. This station is also part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Kettwig - Hösel.

Essen-Werden (EEWD)


The Ruhrtalbahn ends here in Essen-Werden, and it continues as line 2161 to/from Essen Hbf. The old station Essen-Werden was located at tracks 821/822/823. The platform were moved behind the switches in 1968. There we have only outer platforms. The station is part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Stadtwald-Werden.

Essen-Hügel (EEHU)


The stop Essen-Hügel is part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Stadtwald-Werden. This stop has outer platforms. The line is single track in and around the Stadtwaldtunnels, which are located between Essen-Hügel and the next station Essen-Stadtwald.

Essen-Stadtwald (EESA)


Next is the station Essen-Stadtwald. The station is part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Stadtwald-Werden, which can be operated locally.

Essen Süd (EESD)

Essen Süd

The last stop before arriving in Essen Hbf is the stop Essen Süd. Here we have outer platforms. This stop is also part of the dispatching area of the remotely controlled signal box Stadtwald-Werden.

Towards Essen-Steele (EEST)

Here we see traffic to and from Essen-Steel (EEST), and further onwards into the direction of Wuppertal, Hattingen (Ruhr) Mitte (EHTM) and Dortmund (KDO). Normally, only S-Bahn services or diverted traffic, in case the main line between Bochum Wattenscheid und Essen Kray Süd is out of service, is seen here. Track 940 is the freight track between Essen-Steele and Essen Hbf. There are no other stops or stations along this line within our dispatching area..

Towards Bochum Hbf (EBO)

Along the mainline to and from Bochum Wattenscheid there is only the stop Essen-Kray Süd.

Hp Essen-Kray Süd (EEKS)

Hp Essen-Kray Süd

Only service RB40 Essen Hbf-Hagen Hbf stops at Essen-Kray Süd. The RB40 is operated by private operator Abellio Rail (ABR). This stop has outer platforms.

Towards Gelsenkirchen Hbf (EG)

Essen-Kray Nord (EEKN)

Essen-Kray Nord

Only the S2 service Dortmund Hbf-Essen Hbf stops at Essen-Kray Nord . Here we have an island platform between tracks 703 and 704.

Towards Müllheim (Ruhr) / Bottrop

Essen West (EENW)

Essen West

Essen West is a remotely controlled station with two island platforms, one between tracks 401 and 402 and one between tracks 403 and 404. The S-bahn services S1 and S3 stop here at tracks 401 and 404, and the S9 service stop along tracks 402 and 403. The NWB service from Borken do no scheduled stops here.

Tracks 921, 923, 924 and 925 are fully equipped with ARS (Zuglenkung)! There is a peculiarity though:

  • The ARS of the signals G923 and F925, out of the direction of Essen Hbf, may not be enabled!!
  • You may only set entry routes from those tracks into 404 and 406 when the track section behind the exit signals P403 or P406 (454/456) are unoccupied!!

Essen West is a remotely controlled signal box of type Sp Dr S 59. That is why the overlap routes in Essen West do not release automatically, and thus have to be revoked manually. Do the following to revoke the overlap route :

[TRACK NUMBER] + Arrow + "END" Button + ENTER

As the overlap routes of signals P404 and P406 in Essen West are very short, the railway authorities have issued an order which prohibits the usage of the auto fleeting of signals G923 and F925! Additionally, you may only set entry routes into tracks 404 and 406, when the track sections (454/456) behind exit signals P403 and/or P406 are completely unoccupied.

Hp Essen-Frohnhausen (EEFO)

Hp Essen-Frohnhausen

The stop Essen-Frohnhausen has out platforms along tracks 451 and 454. Only the S-Bahn services S1 and S3 stop here.

Station Essen Hbf

Essen Hbf (EE)

Essen Hbf

Signals with auto fleeting including ARS can be recognized by the SB indicators. Whilst the station tracks for the S-Bahn services are fully equipped with ARS for the normal direction of traffic, the train routes into the station tracks for long distance services must be set manually!!

Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof (Ero) (EE O)

Hbf Rangierbahnhof (Ero)

The former shunt yard (Rangierbahnhof) has been shut down completely except for the tracks 313 through 315. Originally the orange area was controlled by a local switch guard. Nowadays this signal box is abandoned and Ero is operated remotely from Essen Hbf. Only shunt movements to and from this area are possible. The freight track (113) is excluded from this "rule".

Essen Waldthausen (EE W)

Essen Waldthausen

A service depot for local train services. Again, this orange area is operated by switch guards of signal box Wsb II in reality, though not implemented as such in this simulation. A maintenance hall is located on tracks 240/210 and 239/209. Those tracks have a maximum speed limit of 5 km/h. There is a washing hall on track 237/207, with a maximum allowed speed of 2 km/h.

Here we have the possibility to send trains as a shunt movement towards Essen West via track 200.


Automatic Route Setting (ARS)

The signal box Essen Hbf has signals with built-in Automatic Route Setting (Zuglenkung) and signals with just auto fleeting. The signal with ARS are normally located there where more then one train route is possible. The signals with only auto fleeting are mostly signals where only one train route is possible.

The ARS system applied here works on the full train number, not just the steering number. When a signal with ARS does not "know" a certain train number, the entire train number will flash. This alerts the dispatcher that he has to do something. Either he sets the route himself, or in case the train number is just wrong, he corrects the train number. For the last case, remember that is always possible that a neighbouring dispatcher has entered a wrong number. We are human after all. So pay attention yourself as well, so avoid entering wrong train numbers yourself as well.

All normally scheduled trains passing through Essen Hbf are known by the ARS system.

The ARS for signals with ARS can be enabled or disabled the same way as done for trains with only auto fleeting. There is no difference made for that. The indicator of the auto fleeting/ARS is located near the signals.

Trains at the platform of Essen Hbf

The normal exit signals at tracks 1-12,21 and 22 also have ARS. However, train routes will NOT be set automatically! The dispatcher has to set the route.

If nothing precludes the exit route, the following can be done:

Example: A train at track 011 towards the "left" is ready for departure. (The ARS knows where the train has to go)

  • on the Number Entry Panel enter 011
  • press Arrow Left
  • press Enter.

The exit route will now be set automatically into the right direction..


  • Auto fleeting enabled for the signal
  • Signal is at Stop
  • Train is located on the station's track or driving into it.
  • The train must be known (Number should not blink!)

When train number is blinking, a train route will not be set at signals with ARS!

ARS support feature

In the simulation the ARS has been made a bit more intelligent. Even when you have routed a train over an other track, the train will find its way out of the station. This option can be found in the menu under "Manage -> ARS"

Colors have the following meanings:

Color(s) Meaning
Edg ars white.png white/gray ARS disabled
Edg ars green.png solid green ARS enabled, no train route possible, operating has no effect
Edg ars dark yellow.png dark yellow ARS enabled, train approaching, train route possible, operating possible (no guarantee

that the route actually can be fully set)

Edg ars yellow.png yellow blinking ARS enabled, train approaching, train route possible.
Edg ars green.png green blinking ARS enabled, train route is being set, operating has no effect
inline bright green ARS enabled, train route set, signal at Proceed, operating has no effect
Edg ars purple.png purple ARS enabled, shunt aspect Sh1 shown, operating has no effect
inline black on white ARS enabled, either aspect Zs 1, 7, or 8 is shown, operating has no effect

This aid is not available on the real signal box, but the normal user needs help in Essen... as there is so much traffic.

Overview Offering Trains Using ZNP

More information : ZNP801 communication panel

ZNP801 EE.png

Track Offering field Neighbour [F-Key] Example
939 A939 BO [F3] 123456 BO 939 ANB
940 A940 ESO [F4] 456789 ESO 940 ANB
974 A974 BO [F3] 789123 BO 974 ANB
461 - - Telefon
Ee entry exit.png

Shortcuts Number Entry panel

  Alt + A Alt + B Alt + C Alt + D Alt + E Alt + F Alt + G Alt + H Alt + K Alt + M Alt + N Alt + O Alt + P Alt + Q Alt + R Alt + S Alt + T Alt + U Alt + V Alt + W Alt + X Alt + Z


Essen Hbf : destinations as used in timetable

Short Name Full Name
EE Essen Hbf
EE O Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof (Ero)
EE W Essen Waldthausen
EBO Bochum Hbf
EBTS Bottrop Süd
EBTH Bottrop Hbf
EDO Dortmund Hbf
EDG Duisburg Hbf
EEBS Essen-Borbeck Süd
EEFO Essen-Frohnhausen
EEHU Essen-Hügel
EEKN Essen-Kray Nord
EEKS Essen-Kray Süd
EENW Essen West
EESA Essen-Stadtwald
EESD Essen Süd
EEST Essen-Steele
EEWD Essen-Werden
EG Gelsenkirchen Hbf
EHOS Hösel
EHTM Hattingen (Ruhr) Mitte
EKG Kettwig
EKGS Kettwig Stausee
EMST Münster (Westf) Hbf
EMRH Mülheim (Ruhr)-Heißen
EMRY Mülheim (Ruhr)-Styrum
EWAN Wanne-Eickel Hbf
KDR Düsseldorf-Rath
KD Düsseldorf Hbf
KRAO Ratingen Ost

Track Lengths

Essen Hbf

Track Length (m)
Essen Hbf 1 444
Essen Hbf 2 447
Essen Hbf 3 337
Essen Hbf 4 485
Essen Hbf 5 150
Essen Hbf 6 425
Essen Hbf 7 468
Essen Hbf 8 150
Essen Hbf 9 221
Essen Hbf 10 338
Essen Hbf 11 253
Essen Hbf 12 259
Essen Hbf 21 270
Essen Hbf 22 164
Essen Hbf 25 205
Essen Hbf 26 314

Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof (Ero)

Track Length (m)
Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof 314 600
Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof 315 580
Essen Hbf Rangierbahnhof 316 580

Essen Waldthausen

Track Length (m)
Essen Waldthausen 201/231 417
Essen Waldthausen 202/232 405
Essen Waldthausen 203/233 357
Essen Waldthausen 204/234 320
Essen Waldthausen 205/235 324
Essen Waldthausen 206/236 367
Essen Waldthausen 237 (Waschanlage) 397
Essen Waldthausen 239 (Halle 1) 403
Essen Waldthausen 240 (Halle 2) 386
Essen Waldthausen 241 116
Essen Waldthausen 242 110

Essen West

Track Length (m)
Essen West 1 (401) 492
Essen West 2 (402) 427
Essen West 3 (402) 427
Essen West 4 (404) 260
Essen West 405 327
Essen West 406 341
Essen West 407 577
Essen West 408 381
Essen West 409 349
Essen West 410 345


Track Length (m)
Kettwig 1 (851) 500
Kettwig 2 (852) 402
Kettwig 3 (853) 355

Street Names of Level Crossings

Box info Mile Post Steet Name
I 1 km 23,800 Am Wasserwerk
I 2 km 22,715 Feldweg
I 3 km 20,550 Am Kattenturm
I 4 km 15,527 Bahnhofstraße

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