NSWGR Electric Staff exchange staffs/tokens

 
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
One thing we were never told was that the Staff instrument wiring was connected to a 'Type F' Automatic Level crossing until the crossing failed one day and we could not withdraw a Staff.
Back then the crossings were not checked every 24 hours as it became mandatory to do so after the local Station Master was snowed under due to a major derailment and a Mains Power Failure had occurred, the batteries in the 'Type F' (no Booms) went flat 24 hours later and the Staff Instrument wouldnt work.
There was some argument about the 'directional operation' of the Electric Staff on Single Line as to if it was correct or not.

Signals Branch could be quite secretive at times in relation to the operation of some new equipment.

I had one case of where a portion of a siding was Track Circuited but not only didnt they tell the Signalman, they didnt install a light in the diagram.
A call for the Signal Electrician at 4am in the morning to drive 80kms to fix a track locking we knew nothing about soon sorted that problem out.

Like everything, Staff and Ticket, Electric Staff and double line systems all have their weaknesses and can  be bypassed by ignorance, laziness or wilfulness but fortunately this doesnt happen too often.

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  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Sorry, my query was why was this necessary when the staff was in the staff lock at a siding, to release the Annett lock. I understand the level crossing and swinging the staff scenarios. but not the necessity at a staff-locked siding. Although, as I typed this reply, I wondered whether the extra protection it offers might cover the possibility of leaving the staff in the lock, and heading off without it...
duttonbay

I am not sure about a staff lock at an intermediate siding ever cut the linewire (one out of two) of the electric staff section. Can't say this ever happened in NSW.

However, a switch operated by the staff was often used to put a nearby signal to stop, to prevent the Type F level crossing operating, such as when shunting a siding. A rarer variation of this a timeswitch to put that signal at stop near the scheduled time of a passenger train, such as at Tamworth and Ivanhoe. Signal includes Main Line Indicators MLI.

Tamworth (MLA and timeswitch) http://www.sa-trackandsignal.net/Pdf%20files/NCRN/JH1562.pdf
Ivanhoe (MLI and timeswitch) http://www.sa-trackandsignal.net/Pdf%20files/ARTC/AR409.pdf

Numerous (MLI and staff switch) _ _ _ _
  historian Deputy Commissioner

Some ideas are stupid ideas. Some ideas are b* stupid ideas. Using the staff circuit to prove the operation of the direction relays in a set of flashing lights, or that an intermediate siding is secured normal, is, IMHO, an example of the later.

The purpose of the electric staff system is to prevent collisions of trains, particularly head on collisions. You don't get more important than that.

Putting in either proving mechanism simply means increasing the likelihood that the electric staff system will fail. Not only when the condition when you are testing for occurs, but also when the proving hardware in the line wire in the staff line itself fails.

So you are increasing the chance that a key safeworking system will fail, just to check low probability events which are either unlikely to be unsafe (siding not properly locked) or could be checked in other ways (direction stick relays failing).

Yes, it will fail safe (locking up the staffs). But when the electric staff system failed, the railways didn't stop running trains. They reverted to a paper based manual system. We know that these manual, emergency, systems have a higher chance of failure. After all, that's why systems like the electric staff system were invented and installed in the first place.

So they are marginally increasing the risk of a catastrophic failure to reduce the risk in two already low risk situations - and which were managed in other ways in other states.

I really don't think they thought through this idea.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Some ideas are stupid ideas. Some ideas are b* stupid ideas. Using the staff circuit to prove the operation of the direction relays in a set of flashing lights, or that an intermediate siding is secured normal, is, IMHO, an example of the later.

The purpose of the electric staff system is to prevent collisions of trains, particularly head on collisions. You don't get more important than that.
historian

But if the Direction Sticks aren't proved in the Staff Lines, then how else can this be done? And it must be done some how or another.

Looking at Ordinary Staff sections where there were no staff linewires to prove in, the solution was to install 1 pair of wires to the station at one end of the section or the other, which illuminates a light that the train crew have to check. A pair of wires to both ends of the staff section, would of course increase the cost, though it improves safely.

More recently, level crossings in NSW have (all/mostly) been monitored to a centralised location such as Junee or Broadmeadow. The monitor has 16/32 channels, and links to the monitoring centre via a Mobile Phone type system. The 16/32 channel system supervises all/most of the most important parameters such as:
* Battery Charged (12VDC with lights only, 15VDC with booms)
* Battery Charger Active (120VAC)
* Other Power supplies, if any.
* DXT, XT, UXT, etc., track circuits
* DDSR, UDSR direction sticks
* XR crossing relay (turns on Flashing Lights when deenergised)
* XPR crossing repeat relay
* Lever Frame Relays
* Main Line Indicators??
* Boom R??, if provided.
* Door Locked Properly (in WA at least)
* Reset circuits with Axle Counters?

At the Supervising Centre, some kind of data recorder (black box) presumably records every thing that goes on.

At the Supervising Centre, some of the indications are displayed or even integrated with the Signalling Control Panel.

Monitored level crossings have unique ID numbers, rather like Traffic Lights.
Tamworth, Brisbane Street (ID506) http://www.sa-trackandsignal.net/Pdf%20files/NCRN/JH1562.pdf

Railway signalling "normally" proves relay down,
* Normal and Reverse Point Indicating relays, NWKR and RWKR and their repeats are cross-proved
** If points are Normal, the Reverse Relays must be down, and vice versa.
* difficult/impossible to do with Track Circuit Relays, so other measures are needed.
* difficult to do when relays are not in the same location, such as TR and TPR track indicating relays.
* proving level crossing relays in the staff lines make perfect economical sense.
* Tunnel Stick relays such as Marangeroo failed when trains traversed Tunnel in reverse direction during SLW.
  historian Deputy Commissioner

Some ideas are stupid ideas. Some ideas are b* stupid ideas. Using the staff circuit to prove the operation of the direction relays in a set of flashing lights, or that an intermediate siding is secured normal, is, IMHO, an example of the later.

The purpose of the electric staff system is to prevent collisions of trains, particularly head on collisions. You don't get more important than that.

But if the Direction Sticks aren't proved in the Staff Lines, then how else can this be done? And it must be done some how or another.
awsgc24

The other States didn't prove the direction sticks through the staff lines, so they all clearly found a solution that worked.

In Victoria, if the departure track didn't pick up after a train the crossing would time out and restart. The batteries could keep it going for 24 hours even if the power went out. Before that time the track inspection would pick up the problem - or the locals would complain.

Another approach was to impose a tone on the station/station telephone line.

If you decided you really had to prove the direction sticks, well, the line wires are just the price you pay. In general, I don't believe this would be a significant issue. Historically, most flashing lights are in or near major towns. As these were typically staffed, the line wires would normally be relatively short. If you had a set of flashing lights really out in the boonies, you could put in an 'indicator' at the braking distance that would flash if the direction sticks had failed.

There are lots of solutions. Proving through the staff line wires is, IMHO, a cheap and nasty approach adopted without thinking through the critical safety role of the staff system.

(Modern railway operation is completely different. ICT advances means that it is cost effective to comprehensively monitor the operation of a set of protection equipment, and to report back any alarms in real time to a central location. This reduces the cost of track patrols (they don't have to patrol so regularly, and they don't have to stop to test the equipment). And there are almost no staffed stations to supervise anyway.)
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
The only place I saw the ES control a Colour Light signal was the departure Signal at Baal Bone Colliery.
We could operate the Motor points and press the 'Machine Complete' button but until the ES was put into what ever the lock was at the Signal, it would not clear.
Basically it was a HOME protecting the points as the ES was the Token of Authority for the section.
This was not a good move as it meant nothing could traverse the Mudgee Branch for the next hour or so.
By then nothing was going past Kandos and the traffic was very light between Kandos and Baal Bone jct.

Later on when the Brakevans were removed, they increased the lengths of the Trains by a Hopper or 3 which meant they had to 'Run Out' past the signal to complete the loading.
The only way you knew it had departed the siding was when the Tracks behind it cleared.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Back then the crossings were not checked every 24 hours as it became mandatory to do so after the local Station Master was snowed under due to a major derailment and a Mains Power Failure had occurred, the batteries in the 'Type F' (no Booms) went flat 24 hours later and the Staff Instrument wouldn't work.
gordon_s1942
As staff stations became unattended, and staff sections became ever longer, NSW started to engage contractors to do the daily test, and report same to some central location such as Junee or Broadmeadow.

These contractors were probably local farmers, or others with time on their hands. Some training would have been required.

Even with monitoring (16/32 channels). on the spot checks would still be needed to check that the lights were working correctly, and not obscured by say vandal's paint. Lamp proving relays do not detect paint. It is not known if any of the monitoring channels were used in reverse to activate the test function.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
So anyways, I figured I might as well actually get a couple of photos of said staff instrument - that is still in my back shed. Laughing

I am just finishing up a few RDO's and with the inclement weather decided to see if I can convince the instrument to give up a few secrets as to just how it is wired so I can extract the replica staff. After trying to see whether or not it is feasible to make akey to open the head, and poking around with a borescope, I turned my attention to the electrickery side. As you can see, there is a loom of 10-core cable that connects the instrument to its' mate at the next station, and presumably a few other tidbits.

After separating out the wires and arbitrarily labelling them 1 through 10, I have found that 1 pair appears electrically connected inside the instrument with zero resistance between the pair, another pair shows an open circuit but zero resistance with the bell key pressed with a third wire showing zero resistance (so the bell key seems to be a SPDT switch wired across wire 6,9 & 10) and a third pair shows 67 ohms, that suggests it may be running through a relay coil or similar, so that may be the pair that swings the galvanometer needle - though I haven't had any success doing that myself while using a 15VDC supply yet.

I might have a poke around Jaycar or similar and pick up a few 12V batteries to see if increasing the voltage will bring results. ARTC suggests 50VDC is typically used for signalling purposes.










  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
As most ES locations were unpowered, all they had was those glass battery jars (Layden?)and if they are a standard 'Cell' that generates 2.5 VDC, I dont ever remember seeing 25 of them (50VDC) in a cupboard nearby.
In their simplest form, to remove a staff, the key on the machine at the other end had to be held down which then threw the needle and rang the bell and you then lift the staff through the throat.
Although you were NOT supposed to do this, holding down the Bell key at the other end would make the needle on YOUR instrument read OUT and you cannot pull a Staff up through the Throat.
Of course if YOU were to hold down the Key, the other instrument should react the same.

This is one of the reasons I though they used a 3 wire system, like those light switches used in a Hall way where you can turn the light on or off from either end.
With ES it was possible to return the Staff to the Instrument it was withdrawn from unlike the Tablet system which had to be taken to its 'Mate' which indicates to me there is a 'mechanical' arrangement in the 'Head' to unlock either machine.

Rather like the High/Low voltage switching used on a Satellite LNB (14V/18V) to change 'polarities' on the received signal.
Also it might help to remember nearly every thing to do with Safeworking/Signaling is designed to Fail if the slightest thing goes wrong.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
This is what they should look like, these ones were Boggabri with an annette key.
  LocoMofo Station Staff

Hello. I have a NSWGR staff exchange and I'm curious about locating some staffs to fit it. How do I know what type it takes? is it displayed on the machine itself? Heres a few pics of it, Im nowhere near it at the moment but I'll follow any info up next time. I've been quoted over $600 for a single staff which seems pretty loose tbh
I HOPE you are nowhere near that staff instrument - because that is the one I bought from Cowra a few months ago, and it is sitting in my back shed until I can devise some electronic trickery to simulate another instrument to permit withdrawal of the staff...Evil or Very Mad

Now, as it happens, that instrument you have pictured is a Type B, evidenced by the plate on the side of the head. And it is not an actual MES in the instrument, it's only a replica unfortunately. Were it a real staff, I'd know where the instrument came from, oth than a general "Cootamundra Region" sign that was hanging on it at the auction.
KRviator
Oops! We bought one from the same auction and rather than go take a photo of it I just grabbed (the wrong) photo from the auction catalogue.

Thanks to everyone else for their input.

We ended up buying another staff machine with a compliment of 20 staffs.
  aussiealco Station Master

Location: Bathurst NSW
G'day,
You could google for this PDF: S&B_Cat_C_sec
Control of Single Line Railway by the Webb and Thompson miniature train staff apparatus type S.
I don't remember where I found this PDF and only have limited www access here at home, so cannot do a long search for it.
While concerning vintage ETS type S instruments, it does present the various interlocking circuit diagrams.
Plus provides internal diagrams for instruments and drawer locks etc.
Both ordinary (miniature) and divisible starves are detailed.
Divisible ETS was utilized here in NSW.
Bank Engine Key was utilized here for Tumulla bank, south west of Bathurst.
You may be able to figure out from the circuit diagrams how to get your ETS to function.
As to the manufacture of pegs, well as mentioned in this threat you need the actual throat pattern.
I have seen on the www somewhere the use of wooden pegs for an ETS instrument.
Maybe wooden lathe turned pegs might be cheaper and easier to manufacture.
Oh and if you encounter Clandulla to Kandos Works peg number 40, I would be very wary of it.
That went missing, presumably stolen about 15 years ago, and caused some consternation at the time.
I also remember when the Charbon Junction drawer lock was replaced with Key Staff lock on the ground frame.
You had to remember to grab a key peg when working a coalie to Charbon, and ordinary when working the Cement.
Some blokes did initially fall for the trap and grab an ordinary peg to go to Charbon.
A long hoof into the Intermediate staff hut to grab the emergency key to hoof back and unlock the ground frame.
I also remember working west to Parkes and not being able to get a peg (large) at Bumberry.
We were following another Lithgow crew, who had obviously forgot to sink the peg at Cookamidgera.
I managed to get the Parkes ASM to drive out and sink the peg.
I had to come up with an excuse for the delay to tell TC as I didn't want to dob in me cohorts.
Told TC that we had a sticking brakes problem.
Well, the brakes were applied while we sat there waiting.
I enjoyed working under ETS and OTS&T.
But, I didn't think much of Train Order Working when it was introduced.
I later got to work Track Warrant system down in Tassie.
Steve.
  wally-wowser1 Train Controller

Location: overlooking the Mt vic washaway on Soldiers Pinch
The staff instrument that was at Ben Bullen  was removed over a long weekend probably about 15 to 20 years ago by persons unknown .  First train out after the weekend found the lack of  instrument  , I imagine that there were many words  spoken to ORCO  at Orange  trying to convince them that it  had been stolen .  Probably a  emergency order was written to cover this & allow  the train to continue its journey while the signals branch raced around trying to find a working spare instrument   .



    I knew of one guy at a NSW western depot  who made a wooden staff & tried it out  then wandered  back to the loco  and presented it & a real staff to  the driver  .  it took a while  for the driver to be convinced that the wooden staff had been made by the co driver trainee & had not come out of the machine  .
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
The staff instrument that was at Ben Bullen  was removed over a long weekend probably about 15 to 20 years ago by persons unknown .  First train out after the weekend found the lack of  instrument  , I imagine that there were many words  spoken to ORCO  at Orange  trying to convince them that it  had been stolen .  Probably a  emergency order was written to cover this & allow  the train to continue its journey while the signals branch raced around trying to find a working spare instrument   .



    I knew of one guy at a NSW western depot  who made a wooden staff & tried it out  then wandered  back to the loco  and presented it & a real staff to  the driver  .  it took a while  for the driver to be convinced that the wooden staff had been made by the co driver trainee & had not come out of the machine  .
wally-wowser1
In the above case, they would NOT have just replaced the stolen instrument but the one at the other end as well.
Because the Mudgee Branch wasnt that busy, they would have cancelled the Electric Staff system for that section and for THREE DAYS, issued a notice to each Train notifying of the cancellation and what Safe System was now in place.
While its highly unlikely, they could have issued a Rule 307 for each Train as they did during snow falls in the 70's and 80's between Yard Box and W'wang East for some 10 days.
After the 80's we actually had 6 Rule 307 Forms in the  SafeWorking Emergency Bag in each interlocking for just such e situation.


Re Shunting Sidings with Electric Staff.
Cox's River Colliery Branch at Wallerawang was operated by obtaining the ES for section and with another key released by W/Wang East, used to unlock the FPL on the Cross Over from the Main to the Colliery branch and then the ES was removed from the Lock and handed to the Driver to proceed,
When the Train had entered the siding, the frame was restored to Normal with the FPL self locking, the shunting key restored to the Release.
On its return, the Driver handed the ES to the Shunter who opened the Frame and on clearing of the Track Controlled Indicator signal, departed.
  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
After talking with a few drivers, train controllers, and signal techs, the biggest problem with electric staff working seemed to be the all to common theft of the copper wires that joined the instruments, and all the delays that went along with it.

In some sections of NSW (and possibly Australia), the copper wire was replaced with galvanized steel wire, and whilst galvanized steel has a higher resistance than copper, it is also much less desirable than copper, and, as a result tended to be left alone. By the time this conversion of ETS wires had started taking place, Train Orders had already started taking over, and the days of ETS Working became numbered very quickly.

I grew up in Gerringong on the NSW south coast and I personally remember every few weeks on the radio it would be announced "Signalling fault has stopped trains between Kiama and Bomaderry, Buses are replacing trains" which usually meant the ETS copper wire had been stolen (again).

I also remember on season 1 of Railroad Australia, there is a scene of Bernie Baker working his B61 out in country NSW and during a stop to change the staffs, in the staff hut, there is a big sign in the background that read something along the lines of "You are on camera and will be prosecuted for stealing safe working equipment".

I'm not sure how often staffs actually went missing, but I dare say the railways wouldn't have gone to the expense of putting cameras in a shed in the middle of nowhere because it wasnt a problem

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