Staff and Ticket - SignallingWA

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Staff and Ticket

Block Working in WA

SINGLE LINE WORKING

STAFF AND TICKET


WHEN WAS IT USED?

Staff and Ticket Working was introduced by the Western Australian Railways in 1886 and remained in daily use for almost one hundred years. The system's introduction was heralded in the press of the day as below:


STAFF AND TICKET SYSTEM ON THE EASTERN RAILWAY.
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The staff and ticket system, which has just been introduced into the train service on the Eastern Railway, is similar to the system universally adopted on single lines.
According to the "train staff regulations" issued by Mr. Clayton Mason, the line is divided into sections. For instance, the line between Fremantle and Perth is divided into two sections - Fremantle and Claremont and Claremont and Perth.
A staff coloured red will be used on the Fremantle - Claremont section, and a blue one on the Claremont - Perth section. No train can travel on either of these sections without the staff proper to the section, or its equivalent, a ticket. A train on leaving Fremantle will receive the red staff and leave it at Claremont, taking up at that place the blue staff. By this arrangement it is impossible for two trains to be travelling in opposite directions on any section of the line, and thus there is no possibility of collision, unless, indeed, any driver should be mad enough to start without a staff. The tickets, which are kept in boxes of which the only key is the staff of each section, will be used in cases where two or more trains have to follow each other. Supposing that two trains have to start within ten minutes of each other from Fremantle for Perth, the first will travel on a ticket taken by means of the staff from a special box, and the second will start on the authority of the staff itself. We may add that another precaution against accident adopted by the Railway authorities is the placing of a danger signal against all trains approaching Perth station from the direction of Guildford. No train can enter the station until the signal is lowered as an intimation that the platform lines are clear.

Page 13, The Western Mail, September 11, 1886


WHY WAS IT USED?

When only a single line of track existed between stations, some form of regulating the movement of trains was necessary in order to eliminate the risk of trains colliding (meeting 'head-on' for trains going in different directions) on such lines. To a lesser degree, the possibility of collisions between trains travelling in the same direction was also reduced.

WHAT SORT OF EQUIPMENT WAS USED?

The Train Staff and Ticket system of working used the most basic of equipment, yet afforded effective safety - so long as everyone worked by the rules! Under this system of working, there was only ONE Staff for the Section, and when not being used to move trains over the section, it could be found at one of the Staff Stations to which it applied. At each of the 'Staff Stations' (at either end of a "Staff Section") a Staff Box was provided. Inside this Staff Box a book of Staff Tickets were kept. The normal condition of this Staff Box was closed and locked. The 'key' for the Staff Boxes at each end of the same Staff Section was the Staff for the same Section. Being a 'key', the Staff for one Staff Section would not fit into a Staff Box of the next, or previous, Staff Section. As an additional visual safety measure, the Staff for a Section; the Staff Boxes; and the Tickets for the same Section were all coloured the same. Full details of the various colours used for Staff and Ticket working will be given further down this page. Examples of the equipment used to work trains over a single line Section Red and Blue Sections in this case, are shown below.


WHAT WAS THE CONCEPT?

The concept is called "Absolute Block." A key element of Absolute Block requires that under normal operating circumstances only one train is permitted to occupy a Staff Section at one time.  Basically, the Absolute Block method involves the division of the single lines of railway into 'sections', typically, this would mean the railway line between two adjacent Staff stations, i.e. COOL to CALM.

For many years the W. A. G. R. used a model railway layout in their Training School to instruct their employees, and put the theory they learned into practice. The names of three of the stations on this layout reflected the requirement of all Signalmen, and others involved in the safe working of trains, to have a "...cool, calm and collected demeanour." For the purpose of instruction, this page will continue this naming convention.

HOW IT WORKED

One train, in one direction: COOL to CALM.

  • Under normal operating circumstances, (and with the Red Staff for the COOL to CALM section being at COOL), for a train that requires to travel between COOL to CALM, the Signalman at COOL would ask "Is Line Clear..?" of the Signalman at CALM by means of the railway telephone.

  • Provided that the Signalman at CALM is in a position to permit the requested train movement, the Signalmen consult their timetable, and, provided that there are no further trains to follow the train currently waiting at COOL station, the Signalman at COOL hands the Staff to the Driver of the train.

  • Once in possession of the Staff, this authorises the Driver of the train to occupy the COOL to CALM (RED section), but he cannot leave COOL until he receives permission from the Signalman at COOL. When this has been obtained, the Driver carries the Staff on the locomotive to CALM.

  • Upon arrival at CALM, he must deliver it to the Signalman there and he will, unless it be needed for another train movement, place the Staff on top of the Red Staff Box there.

  • The Driver must then await possession of the Staff (or Ticket) for the CALM to COLLECTED (BLUE section). The same procedure would then take place at CALM for the train to proceed to COLLECTED.


Two, or more trains in the same direction: COOL to CALM.
The
following example is give below if there had been other (following) trains to run between COOL and CALM - before a train was to run in the opposite direction between CALM and COOL:

  • The Signalman at COOL would issue all but the last of these trains to leave COOL with a Ticket (after first showing the Driver the Staff to confirm that the Signalman at COOL did indeed possess the authority for the COOL to CALM section).

  • The Driver of each train issued with a Ticket would then carry the Ticket to CALM as their authority to occupy the section.

  • Upon arrival at CALM, each Driver must hand the Ticket to the Signalman at CALM.

  • The Signalman at CALM would then write the word "Cancelled" across the face of the ticket (so that could not be re-used) and send it to the District Traffic Superintendent at the end of each month for checking.

  • The Driver of the last 'following train' would be handed the Staff, and would carry this as his authority to occupy the COOL to CALM section.

  • Upon arrival at CALM, he must deliver it to the Signalman there and he will, unless it be needed for another train movement, place the Staff on top of the Red Staff Box there.


In unusual operating circumstances / emergencies:

In the event that "Line Clear" could not be obtained from the 'station in Advance' (in this example CALM) the Signalman would await the expiry of 'normal section running time' (the time it would normally take for a train to run between COOL to CALM) for the first train, and would provide the Driver of the following train with a Caution Order in addition to the Staff for the section. Upon arrival of the following train at CALM the Caution Order is treated in the same way as for Staff Tickets.


Failure of the Train Staff and Ticket System:

If this system of working failed, paper-based Proceed Orders or Pilotworking, where a person can be used in place of the Section Staff, could be used.

1892 - Train Staff and Ticket Sections and the Staff Shape and Colours in use

Staff and Ticket Section

Staff Shape

Colour

Fremantle and North Fremantle

Round

Pea Green

North Fremantle and Claremont

Round

Cerise

Claremont and Perth

Round

Dark Blue

Perth and Bayswater Loop (Used when required)

Round

White and Blue

Bayswater Loop and Bayswater Junction (Used when required)

Round

Red

Bayswater Junction and Guildford (Used when required)

Round

Chocolate

Perth and Guildford

Round

Yellow

Guildford and Midland Junction

Round

Salmon

Midland Junction and Smith's Mill

Round

Lemon

Smith's Mill and Chidlow's Well

Round

Black

Chidlow's Well and Clackline

Round

Black and Yellow

Clackline and Spencer's Brook

Round

Green and Yellow

Clackline and Newcastle

Round

Caledonian Grey

Spencer's Brrok and Northam

Round

Light Orange

Spencers' Brook and York

Round

Black and Red

York and Beverley

Round

Green

Source: Pages 11 & 12, Appendix to Working Time Book No. 1 - September, 1892

 

1896 - Train Staff and Ticket Sections and the Staff Shape and Colours in use

Fremantle - North Fremantle

Round

Pea Green

North Fremantle - Cottesloe

Round

Green
Ticket: Green, Red Stripe

Cottesloe - Claremont

Oblong

Cerise

Claremont - Subiaco

Round

Dark Blue

Subiaco - Perth

Shamrock

Yellow

Perth - 15 Mile

Round

White, Blue Stripe

15 Mile - Bayswater Junction

Round

Orange

Bayswater Junction - Racecourse

 

Green and Brown

Bayswater - Guildford

Round

Blue and Red
Ticket: Blue, Red Stripe

Perth - Guildford

Round

Salmon

Guildford - Midland Junction

Round

Salmon

Midland Junction - Smith's Mill

Round

Lemon

Smith's Mill - Lion Mill

Triangular

White and Black
Ticket: White, Black Stripe

Lion Mill - Chidlow's Well

Pear

Pea Green

Lion Mill - Chidlow's Well (deviation)

Round

Red

Chidlow's Well - 51 Mile

Round

Pink

51 Mile - Clackline

Round

Yellow and Black
Ticket: Yellow, Black Stripe

Clackline - Spencer's Brook

Round

Green and Yellow
Ticket: Green, Yellow Stripe

Spencer's Brook - York

Round

Black and Red
Ticket: Black, Red Stripe

York - Beverley

 

Green

Spencer's Brook - Burlong

Round

White and Black
Ticket: White and Black

East Northam - Meckering

Cross

White and Black
Ticket: White, Black Stripe

Meckering - Cunderdin

Round

Green

Cunderdin - Kellerberrin

Triangular

Red

Kellerberrin - Hine's Hill

Triangular

Yellow

Hine's Hill - Merredin

Round

Pink

Merredin - Burracoppin

Round

White

Burracoppin - Parker's Road

X Shape

White and Yellow
Ticket: White, Yellow Stripe

Parker's Road - Southern Cross

Round

Green

Perth - Cannington

Square

Blue

Cannington to Jarrahdale Junction

Round

Salmon

Jarrahdale Junction - Pinjarrah

Round

Blue

Boyanup - Donnybrook

Octagonal

Light Blue

Busselton - Boyanup

Cottage Loaf Bread

Yellow
Ticket: Yellow

Geraldton - Mullewa Junction

Triangular

Green

Mullewa Junction - Walkaway

Octagonal

Red

Geraldton - Northampton

Round

Blue

Mullewa Junction - Mullewa

Square

Yellow

Source: Appendix to Working Time Book No. 2. 15th April, 1896

 
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