Across the globe, most countries have a set of standardized street signs. Many use similar concepts and are mutually intelligible by outsiders based on pictographs. Though the meaning may be easily gleaned, it is interesting to note the wide variety of pictographs used by each country. Despite the fact that modern trains are hardly reminiscent of the steamers of yesteryear, the steam train is the pictograph of choice to convey the idea of “train.”

In some late-night weekend boredom, I worked on a few posters showing the trains of Europe through the lens of street signs and their pictographs. The first one features the pictographs used by each European country to represent trains, in the colors of their flags. The top 20 countries are shown in descending order based on how many miles of rail they have.

Railroad pictographs of Europe
If you like the flag poster, you can buy a copy here.

Technically speaking, the train pictograph above represents a grade crossing without barriers. An alternate sign is in use for crossings with barriers, and it uses a pictograph the resembles a cross between railroad tracks and a fence. I used that pictograph to show the differing track gauges used in Europe.

Rail gauges of Europe

Crossbucks are are a ubiquitous part of rail systems, in the many places where trains converge with streets. Though most countries use a similar concept, the colors and proportions vary widely.

Crossbucks of Europe

And just for fun, I made one more poster which shows the logos of the primary railroads in each country…
Rail logos of Europe

Anyway, the blog will likely be on temporary hiatus later next month as I’ll actually be riding some of these European rails.

4 Responses

  1. William Hays says:

    Interesting that only Germany has opted-out of the “choo-choo” logo that is so popular with the mindless media.

  2. Backshophoss says:

    Are you planning to use the Eurostar service Between London and
    Paris via the Chunnel?

  3. D G Rossiter says:

    How could you leave out the Nederlandse Spooorwegen (Dutch Railways) and SCFB/NMBS (Belgium)? The countries may be smaller than some you’ve included but the rail traffic is all out of proportion.

    • Emily says:

      Yeah… I know. There were plenty of other places I’d love to add, but there was only so much space. So I picked the top 20 based upon miles of rail… which, yes, would favor larger countries over the smaller.

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