Notes to Bill's Narrow Gauge Pages

This page contains general notes about Bill's Victorian Narrow Gauge pages.. It may help to explain the technical terms (jargon) you meet in the other pages.

The Wangaratta - Whitfield line was run on a "one engine in steam" basis. Hence there were no provision for crossing trains. While this would seem to make signals superfluous these were provided at Wangaratta and Whitfield.
Apart from the Wangaratta - Whitfield line the Guards equipment included a portable telephone with clips to attach to the railway telephone wires that ran beside the track. As the Wangaratta - Whitfield line ran beside a road for its entire length I presume that it was considered that help was always close to hand.
Crossing Trains
Because the narrow gauge lines were single track trains could only pass at designated (staff) stations.
See Safe Working
I use the Australian English style of Day/Month/Year for all dates.
  1. The direction away from Melbourne.
  2. The left side of the line when facing away from Melbourne.
See Up
Intermediate Block Post
To speed the passage of trains between staff stations an Intermediate Block Post may be established. The effect is to split the section in two for following moves. A IBP requires little equipment - a phone and a signalman with a red flag.
Narrow gauge platforms were low level, being about 250 mm (10") higher than the rail level. If a platform was provided it was given a definite edge by a large piece of squared timber. As the railways were narrow gauge the platform edge was about 2' 9" from the rail. Photos of Menzies Creek yard show a typical platform.
Postal Motor
A Postal Motor was a track gang trolley running as a train to carry mail (and an odd passenger). With one exception these trolleys were open four wheeled vehicles powered by a primitive two-stroke motor. The one exception was the "Whitfield Motor" which has an enclosed body on a trolley chassis.
Running Road
At each station at least one track is designated as the running road for the passage of trains. Because staff stations are used to cross trains they have two running roads. While a running road may be used for temporary storage of vehicles during shunting it has to be left clear at the end of the shunt.
Safe Working
Safe Working is the term given to the system used to operate a railway safely. A full description would include descriptions of every device, rule and form required by a railway. Here is a short description.
All Victorian Railways narrow gauge lines consisted of a single track. To avoid collisions the railways used a system known as the Train Staff and Ticket system. The line was divided into sections. Only one train could run in a section at a time. Possession of the staff (a metal bar, engraved with the names of the stations at the ends of the section) gave a driver permission to enter a section. Stations at the end of the section were termed staff stations. They were usually equipped with signals to control the entry of trains into the station. From this it is obvious that trains could only cross (pass) at staff stations.
Often it is convenient to open an additional (temporary) staff station in a section. This involves withdrawing the permanent staff for the section and issuing temporary staffs. These are identical in form to the permanent staffs. Puffing Billy has Emerald, Nobelius and Cockatoo as temporary staff stations. Nobelius is opened on the days when "Thomas the Tank Engine" specials run.
It is often desirable to run several trains over a section in the same direction. To avoid having to transport the staff from one staff station to the other a Staff Ticket is used. This is a form giving the driver permission to travel through the section. The driver must not accept the ticket unless he sees that the person (signalman) giving him the ticket has the staff for the section in his possession. The main difference to the driver is that he is only allowed to travel forward on a ticket, he may not reverse (set back).
When a train using a Staff Ticket reaches the staff station, the signalman at that station sends a message to the signalman at the first station that the (complete) train has arrived. The signalman at the first station may then issue another ticket, or the staff, as circumstances demand. On Puffing Billy in summer (when a fire patrol trolley follows each train) it is not uncommon to issue five tickets before the staff.
The adding and removal of vehicles from a train. Generally only goods and mixed (goods & passenger) trains need to shunt at non-terminal stations.
A track used for the storage of vehicles, or to provide access to a loading facility.
Staff Stations
A station at the end of a staff section. See Safeworking
Staff Exchange Box
A Staff Exchange Box is provided at unmanned crossing stations. It is a secure box where a staff could be locked away and exchanged for the next section's staff.
Ticket - Staff
See Safe Working
  1. The direction towards Melbourne.
  2. The left side of the line when facing towards Melbourne. (See Down )

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Created: 24/09/1996
Last update: 11/7/2003
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