Queensland Government Railways

by John Hinson

Freight train exchanging staffs at Spring Bluff
Photograph 22/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

Spring Bluff was a crossing station near the summit of the Darling Downs between Toowoomba and Helidon, at an altitude of 1531 feet. Here, we see the station officer on the platform preparing to exchange staffs with a Brisbane-bound freight train. Loops such as these never justified the emplyment of a dedicated signalman, and duties were undertaken by a multifarious member of staff known as the station officer.

Spring Bluff signal cabin
Photograph 22/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour,

The signal cabin was a neat hipped-roof cabin on the platform adjacent to the station buildings.

General view of Spring Bluff
Photograph 1995, by Frank Archer

In the 28 years between 1967 and 1995, the signal cabin has been totally rebuilt - gaining a structure distinctly comparable to a garden shed! The main station building, however, seems little changed.

Interior of Spring Bluff box
Photograph 1995, by Frank Archer

Inside the box, a 15-lever McKenzie & Holland frame works the layout.

signal cabin diagram at Spring Bluff
Photograph 1995, by Frank Archer

The signal cabin diagram shows the layout at Spring Bluff. The Toowoomba end of the loop is some distance from the box, with power-operated points and colour-light signals. The track-circuits and signal indications for this part of the layout are indicated on the lower diagram.

Miniature Electric Train Staff instrument
Photograph 1995, by Frank Archer
Miniature Electric Train Staff instrument
Photograph 1995, by Frank Archer

The single-line sections between Spring Bluff and Holmes and Ballard are controlled by Miniature Electric Train Staff instruments. These are not housed in the signal cabin but in the adjacent station office.

The instrument illustrated on the right has an extra magazine attached, which is interesting. This is a "balancing magazine", a detachable device to allow the safe transfer of staffs to the instrument at the other end of the section.

The line in now operated by Centralised Traffic Control (nowadays referred to in Queensland as RCS - Remote Controlled Signalling) from Brisbane, but Spring Bluff cabin remains in situ, gradually deteriorating.

Additional notes by Frank Archer, Phil Barker and Brian Webber.

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson