Electric staff question(s)

 
  chooke Station Master

This is a naïve question and probably posted on the wrong forum, but I’m relating it to what I know about the Albert Park – Grange – Hendon lines.

I understand the purpose of the electric staff as it was used back in the day, but I can’t get my head around why the electric part is necessary.

For example, a Grange train arrives at Albert Park and receives the staff for the journey to Grange.  Now if another train arrives at Albert Park, it cannot (or is impermissible) to continue to Grange as the staff is with the train already on the Grange line.  It will have to wait for the train to return so the staff can get passed on to the other train.

It seems simple to me, so why is it necessary to have the electric staff machine, or more than the one staff for that matter?

Lastly, if I remember correctly, the Grange station became unattended – or at least unattended most of the time - while the old signalling system was still in place.  Likewise the Albert Park station.  So what system of safe-working was in operation in that period?

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  br30453 Chief Train Controller

This is a naïve question and probably posted on the wrong forum, but I’m relating it to what I know about the Albert Park – Grange – Hendon lines.

I understand the purpose of the electric staff as it was used back in the day, but I can’t get my head around why the electric part is necessary.

For example, a Grange train arrives at Albert Park and receives the staff for the journey to Grange.  Now if another train arrives at Albert Park, it cannot (or is impermissible) to continue to Grange as the staff is with the train already on the Grange line.  It will have to wait for the train to return so the staff can get passed on to the other train.

It seems simple to me, so why is it necessary to have the electric staff machine, or more than the one staff for that matter?

Lastly, if I remember correctly, the Grange station became unattended – or at least unattended most of the time - while the old signalling system was still in place.  Likewise the Albert Park station.  So what system of safe-working was in operation in that period?
chooke
Electric Staff, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Token_(railway_signalling)
The staff and ticket system was still too inflexible for busy lines, as it did not allow for the situation where the train intended to carry the actual token was cancelled or running very late. To provide for this, the electric train token system was developed. Each single-line section is provided with a pair of token instruments, one at the signal box at each end. A supply of identical tokens is stored in the instruments, which are connected by telegraph lines. A token can be removed from one instrument only if both signalmen co-operate in agreeing to the release. Once a token has been removed, another cannot be removed until the token which is "out" is replaced in either instrument. (There are variations on this sequence of events.) By this means, it can be ensured that at any one time, only one token is available to be issued to a driver. Tokens belonging to adjacent sections have different configurations to prevent them being inserted into the wrong instrument.
This system allows for trains to follow in the same direction without having to wait for a train to return with the staff.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I am not familiar with the specific staff sections/stations to which you refer but, generally:

  • Electric staff is a system that can cater for more heavily trafficked routes with possibly unattended (and intermediate in some circumstances) staff stations than, say, Staff and Ticket.
  • The 'electric' bit simply means that the staff instruments communicate with each other generally facilitating train movements and especially follow on movements.
  • Under Electric Staff conditions every train must carry a staff for the section (hence multiple staffs).
  • The staff for one movement cannot be used for the next movement in the opposite direction. The staff must be 'sunk' in the machine immediately it is given up by a train and (normally) another staff must be used for the first opposing movement.
  • Electric Staff instruments may be at unattended locations where they are operated by train crew.
  • The machines are set up so that only one staff for the section can be out of either end machine at the one time.
  • Under Staff and Ticket there is only ONE staff for the section and if following movements are to be run the staff is shown to the first driver and he is issued a Ticket as authority for the section. Anyone travelling on a ticket must have sighted the staff. The last train in that direction carries the staff which is then used for returning services in the same manner.

Hope that helps.
  chooke Station Master

Thanks for the responses

All makes sense but I still don't get why the more complicated electric token system was used on the Grange and Hendon lines, which are short lines (one section only) with the remote possibility of a following train would be to collect a broken down train - and the staff would not be used in those circumstances.  As far as I am aware, in short peak periods a train would wait at the Albert Park station for the Grange train to return - and the staff would then be passed on by the station master from one train to the other.
  alcoworldseries Deputy Commissioner

Location: Auburn
Just to muddy the waters a little, and working from memory (so happy to be corrected), Albert Park to Grange (Henley Beach well before my time) was a token staff, with just one staff for the section, whereas Albert Park to Hendon was true miniature electric staff working, which in early times allowed operation of presumably staff draw locks/subsidiary staff instruments in the former Hendon munitions area.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

I worked for a short time at Philips Hendon and caught the train and recall the safe working used.
Albert Park - Hendon was definitely Miniature Electric Staff. with sidings at Hendon it was possible for there to be following movements
Historically Albert Park-Henley Beach was miniature electric staff with two section vis Albert Park-Golf Links and Golf Links-Henley Beach; trains regularly crossed at Golf Links which although unattended had automatic signals protecting it and spring return turnouts.
As far as I recall Woodville-Albert Park was APB; it had to be because trains could cross on the double track opposite Holdens and there was no hut or cabin for a staff machine
I must admit that the disc starting signal at Grange led to me assuming that Albert Park-Grange was APB, however that signal may have only protected the Military Road LX.

As for other safe working options the SAR only had APB, miniature Electric Staff, Winters Block, Train Order and Permissible Block (Train Record Book) working. As far as I have read Staff and Ticket working was never used.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
How did 'Permissible Block (Train Record Book)' work, please?
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

I worked for a short time at Philips Hendon and caught the train and recall the safe working used.
Albert Park - Hendon was definitely Miniature Electric Staff. with sidings at Hendon it was possible for there to be following movements
[...]
As for other safe working options the SAR only had APB, miniature Electric Staff, Winters Block, Train Order and Permissible Block (Train Record Book) working. As far as I have read Staff and Ticket working was never used.
steam4ian

The 1966 WTT describes "Special token staff working" between Albert Park and Grange. The first sentence says "Under the token working only one train will be permitted on the section at any time".
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

How did 'Permissible Block (Train Record Book)' work, please?
YM-Mundrabilla
I can't speak with authority but I am aware of it being used between Eudunda and Roberstown and probably the Pebinga and Sedan lines.
Basically it is a method of time interval working and time table working. The book/s were kept at stations and crossing points. The train guard entered the train details and time in the book and set the train in motion after having ascertained when the previous train was recorded; I guess Crossing Orders were given.
Why it was used in place of Train Order working would have been on account of available phone lines.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
How did 'Permissible Block (Train Record Book)' work, please?
I can't speak with authority but I am aware of it being used between Eudunda and Roberstown and probably the Pebinga and Sedan lines.
Basically it is a method of time interval working and time table working. The book/s were kept at stations and crossing points. The train guard entered the train details and time in the book and set the train in motion after having ascertained when the previous train was recorded; I guess Crossing Orders were given.
Why it was used in place of Train Order working would have been on account of available phone lines.
steam4ian
Thanks Steam4ian.
Basically what I imagined it would be.
As you say little, if anything, more than Time Interval Working ie 'by Guess and by God' but perhaps sufficient where train services were few and far between on lines where there were unattended locations.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Permissive Block was used on the Port Lincoln Division, the last section being replaced by train order in 1949. The modus operandi is well described in Peter Knife's Peninsula Pioneer, chapter 11.

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