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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)

Signalling and Safety

Signalling and Safety.

The introduction, in recent years, of clever signalling devices of one kind and another, has resulted in a marked increase in travel safety. Power signalling and the employment of day colour light signals are two noteworthy developments in this important field, while the greater use being made of automatic train control systems is minimising the risk of accident. This form of protection is being closely studied by the Home railways, and the recently issued report of the Automatic Train Control Committee, set up by the Minister of Transport three years ago, is full of interest for railwaymen the world over.

In the course of its investigations, this Committee has held no fewer than seventy general meetings and examined hundreds of witnesses including railway operating and locomotive officers, inspectors, drivers, trade union leaders, and manufacturing representatives. After reviewing the various systems of automatic train control, the Committee expresses the opinion that progressive action is desirable for increasing security against accident due to failures of enginemen to observe or correctly interpret signals. They believe that best protection may be secured by the employment of a simple type of automatic control, and by improvements in the conditions under which enginemen work traffic, more especially in respect of lighting and sighting of signals.

To ensure absolute safety, the Committee believe it desirable to provide automatic control at the majority of distant signals and at selected stop signals. For semaphore distant signals, where direct control is desirable, the use of a fixed track ramp and locomotive plunger is recommended. In the case of stop signals (which may be misread by enginemen) used for the protection of trains, starting from or booked to stop, or perform shunting duties at important junctions, stations, or block posts, control at distant signals is of no avail. Protection at selected stop signals is in many such instances desirable. At locations such as these, the Committee recommends the use of a control trip or device of suitable type, catch points or derailers, trap points (with or without sand drags), or detonator placers.