South Australian Railways

by John Hinson

Adelaide Station box
Photograph 1960, from the collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

Although the nameboard on this signal box clearly identifies it as "Adelaide Station" it was also known as Adelaide Station Yard or Adelaide Main Cabin.

Opened in May 1915, the signal box has the appearance of a typical mechanical box, but it is although a power installation. Note that the base is brick to provide the strength to hold the power frame. Power frames were not specifically heavier than mechanical frames, but the need for better support stems from the fact that mechanical frames generally extended below operating floor level and were supported at ground level or on a beam. Power frames, in contrast, simply "sat" on the operating floor.

This box and the nearby Adelaide Wye were the first (and, in its time, the largest in the southern hemisphere) power installation in South Australia, led by the company's Signal & Telegraph Engineer, Charles Pilkington, who had been in the employ of SAR for some time but was not given the title of S&T engineer until near retirement. Prior to this he had some other convoluted title that had signal in it!

Interior of Adelaide Station box
Photograph 1960, from the collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

This view of the interior of the box shows the all-electric power frame supplied by the General Railway Signal Co (of Rochester, New York) which controlled the American-style three-position semaphore speed signalling. The "levers", which might be better described as "slides", are laid out with the handles alternatively pointing up or down to allow them to be closely spaced. Levers 24 and 29 have been pulled. Having adopted US practice, various American terms, such as switch, were used, so that instead of FPL they had FSL

Above the frame, the diagram shows the layout of the thirteen-platform terminal station, along with the associated sidings.

It seems likely that the machines at Adelaide Station (and Adelaide Wye) were GRS Model 2. (NSWGR had one model 2 and one model 2A).

Train describer console
Photograph by Bob Taaffe, 2/4/72
Train describer indications
Photograph by Bob Taaffe, 2/4/72

Diagram of routes at AdelaideTrains are signalled between Adelaide Station and Adelaide Wye cabins using train describer equipment provided when the box opened. On the left (above) is the selector panel that allows the indications shown on the panel on the right to be set up. The right-hand panel is mounted next to the signal box diagram, and shows (by illuminated lights) the destination of trains. The lamps are arranged in two banks of three columns, representing the North Main, Port Main and South Main lines.

The diagram on the left shows the general geography of the area.

Additional notes by Bob Taaffe

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson