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Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition

Railways Department

Railways Department

The Railways Court is designed to show the railway system in full operation and to indicate prospective developments. The main feature—a model railway—is emphatically a model, not a toy. It is actually the scaling-down of a real railway—a miniature system which human midgets could use. If the average man is regarded as a Gulliver, the little railway is one suitable for Lilliputians.

The Court, with a length of 182 feet and a width of 36 feet, has space enough for a very impressive, spectacular display. Along the whole of the floor level, with a width of 15 feet, rising to a height of 6 feet, there is a full relief model of a typical area of New Zealand through which the railway runs. Above that realistic landscape is a platform, with a complete range of railway mechanical and electrical exhibits. Curved stairways give easy access to the public at each end of the platform/ from which the railway can be viewed as well as from the floor. As a suitable background to the working and stationary exhibits there is a mural decoration, 135 feet in length and 6 feet in depth, depicting the progress of the country's railways from the beginning to the present year, with impressions of probable developments. This historic mural is flanked by maps of New Zealand, showing the whole system of rail and road services and the lines under construction.

Even a bare outline of details of the model railway shows the elaborate preparations to ensure a memorable demonstration of the various operations. There is a suburban station of the island type, with platform and. verandas, locomotive shed and goods-shed, all electrically lighted; station and goods yards lighted by two floodlight towers; loading bank, two tanks, turntable; viaducts; bridges and overbridges; tunnels; cattle-stops and other incidentals.

The total length of track is 1000 feet, including about 775 feet of main line, of which 500 feet is visible. There are 24 sets of points and crossings. The station-yard points are operated by electric mechanisms, and, together with yard signals, are controlled by a full-sized 23-lever all-electric interlocking machine with an illuminated diagram of the yard in the control box, visible to the public on the exhibit platform.

At junctions of single and double-line tracks, automatic points are operated by approaching trains; a miniature level crossing is fitted with automatic flashing lights. The movements of trains are controlled by automatic light signals, which are spaced around the visible track. There are 19 single-unit and four double-unit colour light signals operated by 35 track circuits. In operation, a signal at "Danger" automatically cuts off the traction feed, thus stopping the train; immediately the signal clears, power is restored, and the train starts. Station-yard signals are controlled by the interlocking machine.

One of the model trains is a complete "Limited" express, consisting of a "K" locomotive, two first-class and three second-class carriages, two "sleepers" and a van with 320 passengers. The other is a complete goods train consisting of vehicles for horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, calves, chilled meat, fruit, coal, motor-cars, luggage and a brake-van. There are also working models of a railcar (New Plymouth type) and a multiple-unit (a coach and trailer).

Rolling-stock, station buildings, passengers, staff and livestock are painted in true detail. There are also model trees, houses, motor-cars, ships, and persons for the landscape setting.

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The exhibits on the platform include a representative selection of types of work produced and operated by the various branches of the Railways Department. For instance, there is an operable all-electric interlocking machine; the cab of a "Ka" locomotive; an air-conditioned sleeping cabin; a section of 85 lb. track; an exhibit of castings and forgings, and a large range of other highly-interesting railway features. There will be plenty of movement in this portion of the Railways Court, as well as on the model railway, for the Department is arranging to have demonstrators to set many of the working parts in motion, and the public will be able to go through and inspect the details of most of the exhibits, and even personally operate some of them.