The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)
Distinguished Railway Signal Engineer — Mr. F. L. Castle of England, visits New Zealand
Distinguished Railway Signal Engineer
Mr. F. L. Castle of England, visits New Zealand.
Mr. F. L. Castle, General Manager of Siemens and General Electric Railway Signal Co., Ltd., has recently completed a tour of New Zealand, during which he was able to secure first-hand knowledge of the plant in use and the conditions prevailing, so as to enable his company to manufacture equipment most suitable to New Zealand's needs. He was agreeably impressed with the signalling installations on the New Zealand Railways, which, he said, compared favourably with similar systems in other parts of the world.
Mr. Castle is a specialist in railway signal work, to which he has devoted the whole of his career. After two years at Derby Technical College and Nottingham University, he joined the Telegraph Department of the old Midland Railway in England in 1909, and was engaged on telephone, telegraph and electrical signalling, devoting a considerable time to the installation of track circuits for signal control. During the Great War, from 1914 to 1919, Mr. Castle served in the Signal Section of the Royal Engineers. He saw service in Gallipoli, Egypt and France, and in the latter country was Commander of No. 2 Railway Signal Company.
After the war he joined the General Electric Company, of London, and built up their Railway Signal Department, of which he became general manager, being subsequently appointed general manager of the newly formed Siemens and General Electric Railway Signal Co., Ltd. This Company supply and instal complete electrical signalling equipment, cables, power plant, transformers, lamps, etc. It also supplies individual units of apparatus covering the whole range of requirements for electrical signalling.
Amongst the earliest works carried out by the Company may be mentioned the all-electric signalling installation at Didcot, Snowhill and Birmingham (on the Great Western Railway, England). Derby, on the Midland Railway, was similarly equipped, the work being carried out between 1906 and 1909.
A quantity of power signalling work was also carried out later in France, Egypt and Brazil. Notable amongst the Company's more recent installations of route signalling systems are those at Winchester and Newport, on the Great Western Railway of England; the first installation of four-aspect colour light signals with A.C. track circuits (these being supplied for Holborn and Blackfriars, on the Southern Railway of England), and the whole of the signalling on the new Post Office (London) Railway, about which some of our readers will probably be well informed. Other work includes track circuit and colour light signals on the L.M.S. Railway, London area, and the approach lighted colour light signals on the L. and N.E. Railway the latter page 47 being the first of their kind in England.
The Company was also pioneer in the all electric Point Operation of Hump Yards, the equipment of the Feltham Yard on the Southern Railway, England, being a notable example. An illustration of the Feltham yard is reproduced with this article. The Toudiapet Hump Yard, Madras, on the Southern Mahratta Railway, India, was also similarly equipped by this Company. Both these installations were the first of their kind in the respective countries.
In addition, the Company supply to individual orders, or by annual contract, large quantities of material, such as track relays A.C. and D.C., impedance bonds, transformers, indicators, lever locks and general accessories for signalling, to Railways in England, India, South Africa, Havana. The Argentine, New Zealand, Ceylon, etc.
The signalling material is manufactured at the Company's works at Wembley, England, not far from the site of the old Empire Exhibition. The shops contain special plant for experimental work and development of signalling equipment, including the necessary testing apparatus to ensure that every appliance is of the highest standard, before being shipped to customers.
In winter, Mr. Castle tells us, the Company has its Christmas gathering, and in summer an outing into the country or to the seaside. These gatherings and excursions afford an opportunity for members of the staff to mix together and form friendships. There is abundant evidence that these annual social gatherings are of considerable mutual benefit alike to the employees and to the Company.
Mr. Castle writes of his impressions of the New Zealand Railways thus: “The signalling is quite up-to-date, and for meeting, satisfactorily, the conditions existing, compares very favourably with signalling installations in other parts of the world. I refer particularly to the single line automatic signalling. I was greatly impressed with the help and the hospitality extended to me by the whole of the New Zealand Railway officers and staff, particularly by the Signal and Electrical Engineer, with whom I came so frequently in contact. This made my stay in New Zealand most interesting and happy, and I shall always have exceedingly pleasant memories of my short sojourn in the Dominion.”