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Double to single track operated from a power signal box, how early?


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Hi guys. I've just taken ownership of a small branch layout that has a double track line going down to a single line that I'm looking to add signals to in the future. The layout will be set in the early 1990s until privatisation, and my preference is to use colour light signals, operated from a PSB.

My question is, would this be prototypical for the time? My instinct tells me that most single line branches of the time would have been operated with semaphores from a manned box by the token system, the only exception that springs to mind is the Redditch branch, but this was part of a much busier cross city line, so may be an exception rather than something more common?

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57 minutes ago, Foden said:

Hi guys. I've just taken ownership of a small branch layout that has a double track line going down to a single line that I'm looking to add signals to in the future. The layout will be set in the early 1990s until privatisation, and my preference is to use colour light signals, operated from a PSB.
 

 

Most determinately prototypical!

 

Down south we have the Uckfield line, formerly double but singled south of Hever (with passing loops at Ashurst and Crowbrough) in 1987 and controlled from a new build small panel box at Oxted.

 

Another example (albut with conductor rail) would be the Alton branch which got singled beyond Farnham when resignalled apart from a passing loop at Bentley

 

Moving to the London suburbs you find the Epsom Downs branch - singled in the early 1980s from outside Sutton to the terminus but controlled from Victoria Area Signal Centre (ironically physically located at Clapham Junction). This lasted for around 4 decades until the signalling was renewed and control transferred to the Three Bridges ROC in Sussex a couple of years ago.

 

On the coast between Wareham and Dorchester we find another double to single conversion late 1980s setup ( to co-incide with electrification) and although controlled initially from modernised boxes at Wareham and Dorchester, this has subsequently been resignalled and is now controlled from Basingstoke.

 

Others will no doubt be able to give examples on other regions - but one western region scheme I do know of was a 1970s scheme which saw the singling of the formerly double Kemble to Swindon line, control of this being with Swindon PSB.

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13 minutes ago, Foden said:

A lot more common than I'd thought then it seems!
 

 

You need to remember that with ridership declining and HM Treasury demanding constant cost savings, British Rail had to use the 'double rationalised to single' tactic  many, many times from the mid 1960s onwards.

 

While altering mechanical signalling to cope with this was obviously perfectly doable (and indeed proceeded with on lines like York - Knaresborough), as time went on a combination of savings in terms of signallers wages (i.e. fewer of them employed)  plus the ease of relay / electrical signalling equipment (both from a design and maintainability point of view) meant it was increasingly common for rationalisations to see control centralised in power signal boxes where possible.

 

In later years of course it was also the case that such tactics could also help the business case for some electrification schemes - the abolition of signalling positions no doubt making an impact on the viability of taking 3rd rail to Weymouth for example.

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Of corse keeping semaphores wasn’t universal on singling either. My bit of railway (King’s Lynn to Ely) was rationalised to mixed single and double sections in the ‘80’s and gained colour lights for some sections, although over time most of the semaphores went (l say most as we have one at Lynn still, along with two mechanical shunts at Downham Market, and Lynn still has mechanical points). And this is controlled from signal boxes still. At the time of the single tracking were were converted from absolute block to track circuit block with direction levers, so no tokens/staff is required, l believe this was so that when it eventually goes into Cambs PSB the drivers won’t notice the difference..

 

There are probably many more single tracking projects that remained with signal boxes than those that went into psb’s, don’t forget that the cost of manpower in the 80’s to man the boxes was a lot less than it is today, so the saving on manning was actually a very small amount..

 

Andy g

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Posted (edited)

A couple of others that spring to mind are a section of the Hamilton loop and part of Eastleigh to Fareham.

 

Edited by DY444
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Our local branch line was reduced from double to single line in 1961 and although the terminus retained a signal box the signals were all replaced by colour lights operated from an NX panel although the points remained mechanically worked.  Control of the entire branch - considerably rationalised - was later, early 1970s - transferred to a remote power box 10 miles away.  the Kent Coast electrification and resignalling in the 1960s also brought remote controlled colour light signalling to some branch lines although not necessarily single lines.

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3 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

The Kent Coast electrification and resignalling in the 1960s also brought remote controlled colour light signalling to some branch lines although not necessarily single lines.

Specifically, the Sheerness-on-sea branch which was (and always had been) single track north of Swale Halt over the Kingsferry Bridge and on to Sheerness with a passing loop at Queenborough. Apart from the lifting bridge, the post 1959 signalling was all controlled from Sittingbourne which I think was the first Southern box to use position-line subsidiary/ground signals as opposed to motorised discs.

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Hastings Electrification relied heavily upon a series of single-line sections through the narrow-minded tunnels. Those at the north end were controlled from Tonbridge. Closure of Grove Junction, which was indeed a double-single junction for the line to Tunbridge Wells West, in July 1985, enabled economies of signalling cost, as well as providing a nice site for a relay-room, I think. 

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On the Glasgow/Carlisle via Dumfries route, Barrhead SB controls the double line from Glasgow which becomes single to Lugton, and all its signals are colour lights. And on the same route Kilmarnock SB controls the double line from Mauchline which becomes two single lines, towards Barassie and Lochridge Jc (between Kilmaurs and Stewarton); All its signals are colour lights too. 

 

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Thankyou very much for the replies. I really didn't know it was as common as what it appears. From my memory of the Birmingham - Peterborough line through Hinckley, that was a reasonably used double track that retained semaphore signalling upto around 2005 between Nuneaton and Leicester as I recall,  so I thought if a well used cross country route retained manual signalling (in sections), single lines probably would have more often than not.

Seems I can start looking at colour lights then!

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17 hours ago, Foden said:

Thankyou very much for the replies. I really didn't know it was as common as what it appears. From my memory of the Birmingham - Peterborough line through Hinckley, that was a reasonably used double track that retained semaphore signalling upto around 2005 between Nuneaton and Leicester as I recall,  so I thought if a well used cross country route retained manual signalling (in sections), single lines probably would have more often than not.

Seems I can start looking at colour lights then!

You need to remember that it did vary between the Regions ;)

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On 05/05/2021 at 08:14, uax6 said:

At the time of the single tracking were were converted from absolute block to track circuit block with direction levers, so no tokens/staff is required, l believe this was so that when it eventually goes into Cambs PSB the drivers won’t notice the difference..

 

Also Health & Safety considerations for this  - they don't really want signalmen going lineside to exchange tokens.  In due course they'll have to replace the gates with barriers at Littleport too.  Had our cat not been run over on Monday I should have been taking him to the vets by that box for a jab right now.

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19 hours ago, Foden said:

Seems I can start looking at colour lights then!

Mechanical boxes used colour lights reasonably frequently.

 

Another example of the thing you're asking about is Eastleigh to Romsey via Chandler's Ford, which was controlled (including the double to single junction at Eastleigh) from the mechanical box at Romsey, until that box closed and control moved to wherever it is.

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1 minute ago, Zomboid said:

Mechanical boxes used colour lights reasonably frequently.

 

Another example of the thing you're asking about is Eastleigh to Romsey via Chandler's Ford, which was controlled (including the double to single junction at Eastleigh) from the mechanical box at Romsey, until that box closed and control moved to wherever it is.

Eastleigh PSB

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In which case the double to single at Romsey was controlled from the PSB. I was involved with the Romsey Signal Box project whilst at school in the mid 90s, so the PSB control would have been before then.

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2 hours ago, Michael Hodgson said:

Also Health & Safety considerations for this  - they don't really want signalmen going lineside to exchange tokens.  In due course they'll have to replace the gates with barriers at Littleport too.  Had our cat not been run over on Monday I should have been taking him to the vets by that box for a jab right now.

The barrier project is in full swing now. We are expecting them to be fitted by the end of next year...

 

Very sorry to hear of the loss of your cat, my thoughts are with you.

 

Andy G

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When Mickle Trafford - Mouldsworth Junction was singled in 1969 control was by tokenless block, with colour lights at each end of the section. This was one of, if not the, first tokenless block installations.

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It depends on the regions. Western was cutting back to the bone in the late 60s and 70s. Mainlines were singled yet in the Eastern Region the Redmire branch was still using staffed signal and crossing boxes for basically one freight train a day and the odd trip working for a decade or so longer. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, johnofwessex said:

Severn Beach from Narroways Hill to under the M5 bridge was single line controlled from Bristol Panel after the Bristol resignalling in the 1970's

Including the crossing loop at Clifton Down

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Barnt Green to Redditch was transferred to Saltley PSB in 1969. The box at Redditch was retained complete with its semaphore signalling until freight traffic ceased. At that time we took out all of the points and signals at Redditch just leaving a One Train Working single line. We put in a system of sequenced track circuits at Barnt Green to run trains without a token or through track circuits. The track layout and signalling on the line was upgraded to cater for increased passenger traffic a few years ago.

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On 04/05/2021 at 22:48, phil-b259 said:

 

On the coast between Wareham and Dorchester we find another double to single conversion late 1980s setup ( to co-incide with electrification) and although controlled initially from modernised boxes at Wareham and Dorchester, this has subsequently been resignalled and is now controlled from Basingstoke.

The single line starts about 20ch from Moreton station, along around 5mile of single track before becoming double again about 20ch from Dorchester South. 
The section is between 550 & 552 points, and is still controlled by Dorchester PSB. The change over between Basingstoke Dorset coast and Dorchester box is London side of Moreton. Axle counters to TC. Poole, Hamworthy, Wareham and Wool were decommissioned as part of the Poole to Wool resignalling several years back. 

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