Karrijine - SignallingWA

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Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

Mileage:  54 Miles 68 Chains - *See text below:

Lat:  31.756287 S

Long:  116.408617 E

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Quick Facts







20 Levers

Electric Staff

This Signal Cabin moved to Brookton in 1915

Karrijine was opened as an Electric Staff station on the 12th January 1902, splitting the existing section Werribee to Bakers Hill. Karrijine was located approximately mid-way between these two stations and was approximately 2 miles west of the highest point of the line between Guildford and Spencers Brook.  As such it was a suitable place to install a new loop, the only better location, the summit at the location that would, twenty years later, become Koojedda, probably missing out on the grounds that there was then no nearby settlement there and its proximity to Bakers Hill would create too short a section. The new sections were:

Werribee – Karrijine: Green, the staff having a square head, and

Karrijine – Bakers Hill: Red, the staff having what could only be described as an oval head with opposed knobs.

An Officer in Charge, Class 4, was appointed to oversee the safe and efficient dispatch of trains, taking up his residence on the 12 th January 1902.
It would appear that the railway Department's need to open Karrijine both exceeded the ability of its bureaucracy to record its opening in a timely fashion, and for ways and works to complete the permanent way.

Official announcement of the opening (a fortnight after the event) was made through the medium of Weekly Notice number 4 of 1902, the same notice reported that crossings were not to be made at Karrijine until further notice.

This effectively rendered Karrijine
a block post, enabling following trains to follow each other more closely between Bakers Hill and Werribee, but achieving little else by way of increased line capacity.

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This state of affairs did not last long, and in rapid succession Karrijine was fitted with point indicators and opened as a permanent crossing loop, albeit one that was not interlocked. The later event was recorded in weekly Notice 6 of 1902, and gave the location of Karrijine as 54 miles 68 chains from Fremantle, although the actual mileage as recorded on the milepost was closer to 55 miles 10 chains, this being the location at which the points and crossings were installed in January of that year. Weekly Notice 11 of 1902 announced that Karrijine had entered the world of interlocking, recording that as at noon on the 3rd March 1902 its’ interlocking had been brought into use. The information in the Weekly Notice included description of Karrijine's facilities that was to be elaborated on in the 1901 and 1907 General Appendices. The appendix entry, (common to both) is worth quoting in full:


Special care should be exercised by Engine Drivers and Guards when approaching this station on the Up journey; it is approached by a falling gradient and trains must be well under control.
When two trains approach at or about the same time precedence must be given to Down trains.
Runaway Catch points exist a short distance in advance of the down starting signal. Engine drivers must not set back when any portion of the train is on such points, or a derailment will ensue. These points are independent, and are not controlled by the signalmen in any way.
They must not be fouled in the rear of a Down train which is travelling away from the station, until the "Arrival" signal has been received from Bakers Hill, or intimation has been received from the signalman that the down train has arrived at his signal, except in the case of down trains controlled by vacuum, light engines and engine and brake van.
Down trains at Karrijine having to detach or attach trucks  at Karrijine must not be allowed to stand outside the Down Main Home Signal, as there is a falling grade of 1 in 50 towards  Wooroloo and it is therefore necessary to take the utmost precautions.

Karrijine was approached by a sweeping curve from the west, climbing steeply from Werribee on a rising 1 in 50 grade.  The line then straightened and levelled to a more respectable 1 in 240 where the crossing facility was located, the line then resuming its steep 1 in 50 climb. The track was built across a broad gully and much of the formation was on an embankment.  Unusually, there was no conventional loop there; rather, the down main and the up main ran parallel to each other for several hundred yards, with a set of points at both ends connecting each line to the other. A dead end siding ran from the western end of the up main, with its own whistle code of short whistles provided.  A few months after opening this  this siding was extended to serve a spot mill operated by Mr James Byfield, a well-known Northam entrepreneur who appears to have used the siding to load locally cut Wandoo timber to be used as pit props for the mines of the Eastern Goldfields.

Karrijine signal cabin was located on the south side of the track straddling the embankment, making it in effect, an elevated ground-level box. An narrow elevated  platform was located on the east side of the box, probably to provide a safe location for Train Staffs to be exchanged, although it is possible that the platform  was also used for passengers as Karrijine officially replaced the nearby stopping place of Coates, more appropriate facilities not being provided until 1909.

The interlocking at Karrijine obviously needed some adjustments; for Weekly Notice 13 of 1902 announced that the Down Starting Signal had been moved 17 yards closer to the signal cabin and away from the runaway siding. No doubt this was to ensure drivers stopped clear of the runaway points and, when starting, a get their trains moving with sufficient momentum to avoid the possibility of stalling over them.

Unfortunately, no copy of the official signalling or interlocking diagram has been found; however, the progress plans for Karrijine have survived. The diagram seen here shows the track and signalling arrangements as at about 1905. A siding ran from the up main then split into two lines, one running into a ballast pit with the other running behind the cabin to a coal stage.  This coal stage was probably used to replenish the coal bunkers of K Class tank locomotives that banked up trains from Northam, being the first staff station past the highest point of the line Karrijine was a logical place for the banking locomotives to be cut off and then return to Northam. Topping up the K Class locomotive's limited coal supply was probably more easily achieved at Karrijine rather than in congested and harried confines of Northam.  In addition there were a number of gangers sheds and miscellaneous buildings, some of which were probably accommodation huts for the Signalmen posted there.

Initially, Karrijine worked with Werribee to the west and Bakers Hill to the east. In mid- January 1906 Werribee was closed and the section to the West became Karrijine - Wooroloo, staff colour Red.  Following the opening of the double line between Karrijine and Wooroloo (see below) double line working was introduced between these two locations. A block post known as the 53 Mile Box (later named Wundowie) was opened in February 1907 and Karrijine worked with that box whenever it was cut in, although how frequently this occurred is now impossible to say.

Karrijine cabin was fated to have a relatively short working life. The improvement program that created Karrijine was ultimately to end it. Duplication of the eastern Railway from Lion Mill (later Mount Helena) commenced in 1904 and by December 1905 had reached Wooroloo. In February of 1907 the West Australian reported that the earthwork and platelaying for the double line from Wooroloo had been completed and an early opening was anticipated. Part of this work involved the construction of a new double track formation between Werribee and Karrijine. Part of this section, between Werribee and 53 miles 44 chains was opened (albeit for single line working only) in November 1906.

Curiously, the precise date of the opening of the double track working between Karrijine and Wooroloo was not recorded in the Weekly Notices.  The West Australian newspaper of the 27th April 1907 reported that in his parliamentary report for January to March of that year, the Commissioner for Railways had reported that the duplication had been opened, although no opening date was given. Thus, for a few months Karrijine marked the transition point from double line to single line working on the Eastern Railway. However, its glory was but transient, for Weekly Notice 38 of 1907 announced that on the 19th September 1907, double line working between Karrijine and Clackline had been introduced. Karrijine cabin was cut out, the points from the up road to the ballast pit were spiked closed and “Not in Use” boards were placed over its signals. The instructions in the General Appendix applicable to Karrijine were to be deleted. Curiously, the last officer in charge was not transferred out until 15 November 1907, leaving one to ponder what he did during the last four weeks of his posting at Karrijine.

Karrijine's closure was probably due to a combination of several factors. The widespread introduction of the E and F Class locomotives throughout the early years of the 20th century reduced the need for trains to be banked west of Northam and hence cut off and return once the trains had cleared the highest point on the eastern railway between Spencers Book and Perth. As a block post Karrijine was not as suitable as the 53 mile Block Box (later Wundowie box), as this latter location was almost half way between the more important Safeworking stations of Wooroloo and Bakers Hill, while Karrijine was a mile closer to Bakers Hill.

However, Karrijine was to have one last hurrah. In January 1908 it was reopened as a temporary block station for permanent way purposes. Switches (points) were reinstalled and an officer in charge was stationed there between 7am and 7pm each day. His presence may well have been to facilitate trains running to and from the ballast pit, which was in use at the time: the Bunbury  Herald of 28 January 1908 reporting that due to a heatwave several  workers had fainted while working in the pit. This work may have been in connection with the duplication of the Clackline to Spencers Brook section which was not completed until mid-1908.Trains may well have been able to still terminate at Karrijine; one of the latter progress plans shows a crossover between the up and down main mains in place after the double track to Clackline had opened.  The following month the ballast pit points were relocated to a point between the up home and the signal cabin, with the 'WB' disc on the up starter removed and placed on the up home so as to apply to movements from the up main to the ballast pit.  At the same time the up and down mains west of Karrijine were relocated to new alignments.

Thereafter Karrijine fades from the historical record. To date, no records have been found as to when the box was cut out for the last time. The ballast pit was probably still open for use at the end of 1908: Weekly Notice 56 of 1908 dated 13 November reported that E, F and R class locomotives were restricted to the first 12 chains of the ballast pit siding, and it is possible that the box may have been retained during some or all of the pit's remaining life to facilitate access. No record of the pit's closure has been found, although a cryptic reference in  Weekly Notice No 31 of 1909 (week ending   6 August) to points at the West end of Karrijine being removed may refer to the removal of the points to the pit. Karrijine remained a stopping place, being relocated in 1909 to a point 43 miles 11 chains from Perth (as distances were to be measured after 1914), placing it about   7 chains west of Karrijine cabin.  In May, 1914, Karrijine was renamed Coates, reverting to the original name for the area.  The signal box was still in situ by this stage; however, it was clearly unnecessary and was removed the following year. Karrijine's progress plan is annotated to the effect that the signal cabin and interlocking gear was removed to Brookton on the 20th August 1915, where it was to remain until the 1980s. Like the nearby location of Koojedda, the box at Karrijine was to have a long life at a station many miles away from where it was originally located.

Today there is no indication whatsoever that a signal cabin ever existed at Karrijine. The original formation between Karrijine and Wundowie is still clearly visible, and can be followed for most of its length, as is the case with the original roadbed bypassed in 1896. The formation of the ballast pit siding can still be discerned, however, the Byfield siding, along with evidence of the coal stage and other structures, have long since disappeared.

Information researched and interpreted by Justin Smith of the Signalling Interest Group of W. A.

Images of the track diagrams recorded in the "
Plan and Estimate Book" courtesy of Rail Heritage WA, photograhed, processed and supplied by SignallingWA

Any additional information on this signal cabin would be most welcome - please use the e-mail form provided on this page.

Photograph courtesy of RHWA Archives (image AC001) and Diagram of Signalling and Photograph © by W. A. G. R.

This page is copyright, and permission must be sought from  SignallingWA before this page is used for any purpose other than personal education.


This list may not be complete and does not yet include employees who worked here without being appointed.
Where an appointment date is unknown, the Weekly Notice (WN) date advising of the appointment or other official documentation, i.e. Certificate of Competency (CC) will be used.




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