SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS SIGNAL DIAGRAMS & STATION LAYOUTS VOLUME 1
By Greg Hart
SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS SIGNAL DIAGRAMS & STATION LAYOUTS
CONTENTS FRONT COVER
FRONT COVER PAGE PAGE PAGE PAGE
4-6 7 8-57 58
A wonderful historical photo (Circa 1920) of a Westinghouse A2 lever frame (same design as the Saxby & Farmer frames), with the signalman operating a set of points in one of Johannesburg’s East or West signal cabins. Photo courtesy Transnet Heritage Library / Yolanda Meyer. (Inside) The Station Foreman, Piet Van Vuuren, in the signal cabin at Koster Station. Photo courtesy South African Transport Services (SATS) – Circa 1990. INTRODUCTION by Greg Hart INDEX OF FEATURED STATION LAYOUT DIAGRAMS FEATURED STATION LAYOUT DIAGRAMS Early 1900s Tyre’s Electric Tablet instruments and pouches for the various types of trains working. These were the predecessors of Dr. M.C. Van Schoor’s design of his Van Schoor System that would later become the standard type on the South African Railways. Photos courtesy Transnet Heritage Library / Yolanda Meyer.
A newly installed Outer Home Signal (No. 1) for Botha’s Hill Station (Circa 1943) of the standard S.A.R. signalling type. (Inside)
Photo courtesy Transnet Heritage Library / Yolanda Meyer.
Signalling & Train Control Equipment Examples.
Graphics by Greg Hart.
© COPYRIGHT STATEMENT All Rights Reserved. All the photos, graphics, drawings and text contained in SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS SIGNAL DIAGRAMS & STATION LAYOUTS are copyrighted, and remain the property of, and / or, under the control of Greg Hart. None of the content may be copied, saved (stored on a PC or / Retrieval System), print screened, shared or posted / distributed on other web pages or websites (including social media platforms), either in part or in full, without the written permission of Greg Hart.
INTRODUCTION by Greg Hart feature on the pages that follow in Volume 1 of SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS SIGNAL DIAGRAMS & STATION LAYOUTS have been prepared as accurately as possible from historical photos and from old signal engineer diagrams of mechanically, electrically and manually operated stations from around South Africa, ranging from the very early 1900s to the early 2000s. Most of these layout diagrams have changed at one time or another over the years in order to adapt to the evolving needs of the South African Railways, and as such, the ones featured here represent a configuration of the relevant stations based on the version contained in the reference material available to me to work from.
I started out my working career as a draftsman before switching over to the railways to become a train driver, where I currently still am today. My love for drawing and my passionate interest in South African Railways history, with an obvious emphasis on mechanical signalling, has been a big factor in me taking on this work-in-progress project, and I hope that these drawings take people back to a very special time in the railways of South Africa.
Historically, the preparation of the signal diagrams & station layouts changed over the years, varying from region to region and from drafts person to person. In the early days of the South African Railways the labelling, technical and advisory information on all the diagrams was given in English only. A bilingual approach to this procedure was introduced during the 1930s when Afrikaans started appearing alongside the English text.
My aim with this project is to redo / redraw as many signal & station diagrams as possible that existed and functioned in times past on the wonderful South African Railways network. About 25 layout drawings from various locations in South Africa will appear in each volume of SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS SIGNAL DIAGRAMS & STATION LAYOUTS. They will appear in no particular order, due to the fact that these drawings were prepared as and when I received reliable reference material.
There were specific colours used for the different tracks and for indicating track circuits. All the colours varied, main or through lines were normally coloured in blue, and the sidings were coloured in brown. The points on the diagrams were shown in the normal / open positions for main or through lines. Hand points were not normally indicated in sidings, unless they were locked by special keys. Patrick type locks (left & right) at detector locked stations were normally shown on the
The redrawn and remastered plans of stations and diagrams of signalling that 44
diagrams and sometimes the tracks were coloured in black over those points.
(predecessor to the Van Schoor Tablets). By the mid 1940s the most commonly used train control equipment was the Van Schoor Token System for Single Lines, and the Tyer's Lock & Block System for Double Lines. For Branch Lines and other Single Lines Telegraph Orders were also used, as well as Wooden Train Staffs.
The more modern type diagrams did away with showing the characteristic curves & curvature of the actual physical station layouts from a “birds-eye” type perspective and they became simpler with just straight lines used. In so doing, the diagrams took on a very “flat” appearance and they sadly lost some of their originality, charm and character. In most cases the actual sidings were no longer even shown, with only the mechanically operated areas of points & signals being displayed.
The Van Schoor System had three ways of working; Absolute, Permissive & Interworking. Absolute & Permissive working were between stations and Interworking used when required to cross a train at an interloop between stations. Interloops were operated manually by train crews at the crossing place (these were equipped with 2 way points indicators), or by remote control from a single signal cabin at one station - an example of a remote control Interloop panel can be seen in the inside front cover picture at the far end of the lever frame with Piet Van Vuuren at Koster Station.
The early types of station Lever Frames used were predominantly McKenzie & Holland, Westinghouse or Saxby & Farmer. They commonly used rodding to signals and points up until the 1930s. Examples of these three types are now very rare, although a few survivors do still exist at some stations on the Reef. Post 1930s, the most common lever frame, and still used today, is the South African Railways Standard Lever Frame, which have a very distinctive Dutch influence to them.
Detector Locking Stations were the most common stations in the very early days. Signals were worked from the lever frame at the station and the points were worked by hand tumbler attached at the points. The signals were detected through the position of the points. The Station Foreman had to proceed to the points on foot or by bicycle to set them, then make his way back to the signal cabin to set the signals for the corresponding line. This wasn't a particularly safe system, as you could still operate signals for the line that was already occupied. Some examples of stations equipped with Detector Locking in this issue include Bethesda Road, George, Inchanga & Somerset West.
Semaphore Signals around the country looked and worked differently from one province to another prior to the establishment of the South African Railways (31st May 1910). Most of the signals up until that point were Lower Quadrant and the standardisation of all signalling & train workings that had been inherited from the various provincial railways followed, with all signals converted to Upper Quadrant. Most systems of Train Control between stations in the early days would have used Webb & Thompson Electric Train Staffs or Tyer’s Electric Tablets 55
From the 1940s most of the stations on the South African Railways network had 5
been equipped with various types of interlocking.
Northdene, Waterval Boven, Suurbekom, Sarnia & Orange River.
Back-Stroke Locking was very common (meaning the Home Signals could only be operated once a safety bar lever related to the same line as the signal to be operated was pulled over and replaced back to the normal position first). If there was a train standing on that line over the Safety Bar (normally in front of the signal cabin), it would not be possible to pull the safety bar lever over in the signal cabin, because the train wheels would prevent the bar from raising, therefore not allowing the operation of any of the Home Signals associated with that line. The Safety Bar is marked by white horizontal sleepers or upside down rails running along the length of the Safety Bar. The Safety Bar is normally about 14m long i.e. longer than the wheelbase of any wagon on the South African Railways. The Train Working Rules require all trains or light locomotives to occupy that mark with some part of the train. The Safety Bars on the diagrams are indicated with a red block, much like how the Lock Bar on the points are indicated and normally in the middle of stations. Some examples of stations equipped with Back-Stroke Locking in this issue include Botha's Hill, Colesberg, Daggafontein, Greenwood Park, Hilton & Vlottenburg.
Sadly, the days of mechanical signalling are now numbered in South Africa and this wonderful, mostly reliable, system of railway traffic control is fast disappearing into the history books forever. Special thanks to the many Facebook users who share my interest, Yolanda Meyer from the Transnet Heritage Library and Piet Roodt, for their assistance and help in providing the majority of the old reference pictures and layout diagrams, which form the basis of the remastered versions on the pages that follow. Lastly, if anyone has any good quality old diagrams or layouts that can be used as reliable reference material for this ongoing project, please would you email me at email@example.com - thanks!
Electric Locking was also being installed at stations where track circuits were required; the locks would prevent the signalman from operating a signal for a line that was already occupied. Foot plunger switches were installed on the floor below the corresponding signal lever to release the electric lock behind the lever, providing the line was not occupied. Some examples of stations equipped with Electric Locking in this issue include Bellair, Kloof, Hillcrest, Lawley, Malvern, 66
Bethesda Road ÂŠ The Brian Couzens Collection (RSSA).
INDEX OF FEATURED STATION LAYOUT DIAGRAMS CODE No.
DIAGRAM IN OPERATION
PMB - Cedara (2nd Alignment)
Noupoort - Norvalspont
Springs - Kaydale
Glencoe - Pongola
Klipplaat - Mossel Bay
Booth - Cato Ridge
Umgeni - Duffs Road
Booth - Cato Ridge
Booth - Cato Ridge
Swartkops - Rosmead Booth - Cato Ridge
(Old Line) (Old Line)
PMB - Cedara (1st Alignment) Booth - Cato Ridge
PMB - Cedara (2nd Alignment) Booth - Cato Ridge
1980 1950 1970
1915 1984 1970 1963 1940 1928
Vereeniging - New Canada
Booth - Cato Ridge
Booth - Cato Ridge
SMB 510-2 Western Transvaal
Northern Cape Main Line Booth - Cato Ridge
Eersterivier - Protem
Midway - Bank
Ladysmith - Van Reenen
Eersterivier - Muldersvlei
Eastern Transvaal Main Line
Note: For the purposes of uniformity in the presentation of the remastered drawings in this publication, all of the drawings have been resized to a 5X7 (landscape) ratio in order to allow for full double-page spread display. Compliance to size and uniformity in layout proportions was not a requirement with the originals prepared by the various regional drawing offices of the South African Railways.
Above & Below: Early 1900s Tyreâ€™s Electric Tablet instruments and pouches for the various types of trains working.
Absolute / Interworking Tablet
Van Schoor Machine
Tyer's Double Line Lock & Block Absolute Instrument
Wooden Train Staff
Points Tumbler Mechanical Lever Frame
2 Way Points Indicator
Published on Jul 2, 2017