THE SIGNAL BOX

OVERSEAS

BLAYNEY
New South Wales Government Railways

by John Hinson

General view of the junction at Blaney
Photograph 27/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour,

Blayney is a small junction between Bathurst and Orange, 180½ miles from Sydney on the Main Western line of the New South Wales Government Railways.

This general view, looking towards Sydney, shows the main line in the foreground which brings traffic, like the Indian Pacific express, right across Australia from Perth and Adelaide. This line passes to the left of the platform in the distance, whilst the Cowra branch (running parallel on the right) uses the right-hand platform face, known as the Back Platform.

The signalling here was typical of the NSWGR, comprising a small central signal box and numerous satellite ground frames. This method of operation was devised by C B Byles (who previously worked for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in the UK) to interlock stations when limited funding was available.

All lines here were worked by Electric Train Staff, to Murrobo (2 miles towards Sydney), Polona Loop (4 miles towards Adelaide and Perth) and Stanfield (7 miles on the Cowra branch). Stanfield was an example of an Automatic Unattended Crossing Loop, another once common feature of the NSWGR. It had track circuit operated home signals that cleared as a train approached, assuming that the track was clear and points set correctly. The crew worked the staff instruments. This was a neat and efficient system for lines with just a few trains per day.

The main lever frame at Blaney
Photograph 27/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

The main lever frame controlling the layout was to be found under a shelter on the platform. Although the layout on the box diagram looks complex, this is controlled from just sixteen levers.The frame operates only the signals whilst all pointwork is worked by remote ground frames released by this frame. The functions are:

1 DOWN OUTER DISTANT
2 DOWN INNER DISTANT
3 DOWN OUTER HOME
4 DOWN HOME
5 UP SECOND HOME, BRANCH
6 UP HOME, BRANCH
7 UP HOME, MAIN
8 UP OUTER HOME, MAIN
9 UP INNER DISTANT
10 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
11 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
12 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
13 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
14 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
15 GROUND FRAME RELEASE
16 GROUND FRAME RELEASE

The Inner Distant signals are mounted on the same post as the Home signals.

Close-up view of part of the main frame
Photograph 27/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

A closer view of the right-hand end of the main frame shows the levers that release the various ground frames. Large keys are fitted into locks on the levers, which can only be extracted when the lever is reversed, locking the protecting signals for the ground frame concerned. The key is then taken to the relevant ground frame, allowing the points to be locally operated.

Some keys are located near the frames themselves, and electrically released by these levers. The indicators on the shelf above the levers show whether the keys are "in". The two indicators at the left end in this view are signal repeaters.

Notice that lever 10 is reversed and that the indicator above it is not lit. This shows that an electrically released key is in use, for Ground Frame "J".

Blaney Ground Frame 'E'
Photograph 27/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour,

This is Ground Frame "E", which was at the "country" end of the station. This view looks towards Sydney, with the main line on the left. The Back Platform for the branch is almost out of sight on the right.

Ground Frame "E" controls a crossover between the Main and Loop lines (the latter is far left in this view) and another between the Back Platform and the sidings. Functions are as follows:

1 SPARE
2 KEY RELEASE FOR 3
(key from 15 in SB)
3 LOOP/MAIN CROSSOVER
4 BACK PLATFORM/SIDING CROSSOVER
5 KEY RELEASE FOR 4
(one key from 12 in SB
6 SPACE

All of the lever frames illustrated here are of Byles' design, found throughout the NSWGR.

Rlectric releasing switches for ground frames
Photograph 27/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

This photograph shows three electric releasing switches mounted on a post by the Loco Yard at the "country" end of the station. Byles was a signal engineer with novel ideas - one of his policies was to place electric releases about 100 yards away from the ground frames concerned, to give "an opportunity for the man to realise what he was doing and its implications". It is said that many a shunter has cursed his memory when in a hurry to get his shunt clear of the main line to avoid delaying an express.

The left-hand switch, labelled MAIN TO LOOP, is released electrically by lever 14 in the signal box and allows trains to enter the Loop from the Main Line through a crossover worked by Ground Frame "H".

The centre switch, marked SHUNTING NECK & SIDINGS is released by lever 10 in the box, and works a set of points remote from the main line. They key is absent in this photograph because Ground Frame "J" is in use.

The right-hand switch releases a ground frame controlling a crossover between the Main and Branch lines, released by lever 13 in the box. The door is missing from the electrical apparatus above the key releases.

The arrangements at Blayney were only intended to be temporary, for the line was being doubled, reaching Murrobo in 1917. An 80-lever frame was ordered from the NSWGR workshops for installation in a proper signal box here. Before it was delivered, it was diverted for use at Wyong but in the event it was never brought into use there, either. The doubling never did reach Blayney, and the existing arrangements proved adequate. Traffic has, of course, decreased over the years. Blayney continues to function today, albeit with a simplified layout.

The line through Blayney was resignalled on 7th February 1977 and is now remotely controlled from a panel in Orange box. Nevertheless, many of the connections here are still worked from ground frames.

Additional notes by Graham Harper and Andrew Koch


Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson