The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)
The Elusive Loophole
The Elusive Loophole.
“But you have a lot of lines in this yard. Could not a head-on collision occur?”page 39
“No. Again the points are so arranged that trains travelling in different directions on the one line would be carried to safety on different lines upon reaching the points.”
I saw my chance and leapt to it like a tiger.
“That is all very well for double tracks, Mr. Signalman, but what about a Single track?”
My companion did not blink an eyelid. For a moment I pitied him. Then I pitied myself, because he said: “The automatic system divides the railway line into sections of quarters of a mile. That system serves the Hutt. Upon a train entering a section it automatically places the signals at both ends of the section at danger. That holds up a train that may be waiting at either end to come on, thus preventing collision in the front or at the back. Opposing trains then cross on a loop line at the end of the section at which they meet.”
I felt I was playing a game of draughts and was losing all my men. However, I perceived what I thought was a loophole.
“That is a safeguard which applies only to the electrified railway,” I said. “The Palmerston North line is not electrified. How about the danger of collision on that?”
“Ah, there we operate on the tablet system.”
I had an idea of what he meant. Tablets were those composition discs that engine-drivers exchanged with signalmen at stations, not unlike the pleasant swopping of cigarette cards. It had always appeared to me to be a happy and aimless pastime, bound up with the curious legend I had heard that no driver would travel without his disc. I was to learn why.