The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)
Conversion to Electric Traction
Conversion to Electric Traction.
In Europe many of the principal railways are firm believers in electrification's future, and Switzerland, in particular, offers a fine example of the increased efficiency and economy secured through the conversion of existing steam-operated lines to electric traction.
A most striking feature of Swiss electrification is the employment of electric locomotives with “one-man” operation. Out of 525 electric locomotives in service in Switzerland, 353 are equipped with the familiar safety device known as the “dead-man's handle,” rendering them suitable for one-man operation. Forty-eight per cent. of the Swiss electric services today are worked by locomotives having only one man in the cab, a plan which is said to result in a saving of about #200,000 per annum.
A further improvement now being introduced takes the form of the “Signum” system of automatic train control. Should a driver run past a distant signal at danger, an optical signal appears in the locomotive cab. After a further 165ft. have been covered an audible signal follows. If the driver still fails to observe the warning, a special page 10 page 11 whistle comes into operation and the air-brake is automatically applied. Special apparatus like this is naturally expensive at the outset, but in course of time the initial expenditure is more than off-set by resultant savings.