Companhia dos Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses

by John Hinson

Pinhal Novo signal box and station
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 7/68

Pinhal Novo is a junction, located 16 kilometres from Barriero. At this junction the branch to Montijo and Sado joins the main line to Beja.

The stark modern architecture of the power-operated signalbox is in keeping with the spartan station buildings.

Signals at Pinhal Novo
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 7/68

The signals here were, at the time these pictures were taken, all of the three-position upper-quadrant type, operated by electric motors attached directly to the spindle of the arm. Signals of this type were a US idea and were used extensively there but were also found in many other countries around the world. Some are still in use (see examples in Australia) but the few used in Britain are now extinct.

The examples illustrated here, being the starting signals, are capable of showing only "stop" (horizontal) and "clear" (vertical) indications as there are no further signals ahead of them.

The numbers S4 and S5, below the main arms, identify the signal numbers. Immediately beneath these are Direction Indicators which indicate to drivers whether they are routed towards Barriera or Montijo. The Montijo branch subsequently closed, but a new branch to a car factory at Penalva now turns off to the left beyond the bridge, so the Direction Indicators remained.

Although not visible in this view, the miniature arms have their own identification, and that on the right is thought to be M3, as a S5/M3 combination is illustrated in the signalling regulations book. The M stands for manobras which means "shunt" in English.

Pinhal Novo was the only location in the Portuguese network to be provided with three-position signals. The signals were renewed with colour lights in April 2002 and three-position signalling in Portugal is now history. One of the signals has been re-erected on a roundabout in the town in recognition of its historical significance.

SSI (Solid State Interlocking) has been introduced towards Setubal and Poceirão. The latter line is now doubled.

Additional notes by Hugo Leandro and Jean Thouvenin

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson