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Single tracks resulted in conflicting tram movements on the Ballarat and Bendigo systems. In Melbourne important junctions were an additional source of conflict. To regulate tramway traffic in these situations electrical signalling systems were installed.


This article describes some of those installations. The whole topic of tramway safe working has not been described here because of the size of such a task, but will possibly be covered by future articles. Some important electrical and mechanical installations yet to be described are Balaclava Junction, Railway/Tramway crossings and the cable tram signal systems. Perhaps you can help by writing a description of some of these.


(1) BALLARAT


To Facilitate the movement of trams over single track the S.E.C. Installed a set of signals, operated by contactors on the overhead, in Bridge St. in 1937. Shortly afterwards this was extended along the Victoria St. and Mount Pleasant routes. The remaining routes, via Lydiard St. North Sebastapol, and the two garden routes, were equipped in 1938.-


The working of the system, which existed until closure, was as follows:

A green light at one loop was wired in the series with the red light at the next loop and electrical interlocking prevented both the red and green light showing at once at the same loop. A car about to leave the loop operated a “setting contactor” which caused a green light to show towards it while a red light shone at the far end of the section. When arriving at the next loop the car operated a “resetting contactor” which extinguished the signals, thus, a green light indicated that there was a car in the section travelling away from the loop and a red indication warned that a car was approaching the loop.


The running of more than one car in a section at once was prohibited except in special circumstances and if a driver upon arriving at a loop found a green light shining he had to wait until it went out before following. He also had to wait sufficient time to enable a tram travelling in the other direction to use the section if required.


Since the power for the system came from the trolley wire it followed that a power failure would cause all signals to go out. Under these circumstances a motorman was instructed to use a motorist as a pilot. To ensure that all motormen were aware of the failure the supply was never restored in less that 1½ minutes during daylight hours.


At the eastern end of the double track in Sturt St. was a switch on a pole which drivers used to indicate their destination – either Mount Pleasant or Victoria St., so that the signals would function correctly at the point where these routes diverged.


(2) BENDIGO


This system was similar to the Ballarat one with the exception of rules relating to duplicate running. When several cars were to run behind each other in a section all but the last car displayed a white disc. No other car was permitted to leave a loop if the car which had just cleared the section was displaying this “car following” symbol. This practice was adopted because of the length of the Eaglehawk route.


(3) MELBOURNE


(i) WATTLE PARK (Elgar Rd.) & EAST COBURG LINES.


On the 20th October, 1935 the tramways board installed equipment manufactured by the RUDDICK SIGNAL CO. between the end of the double track and the terminus on the Wattle Park line. Duplicate running was not permitted unless directed by an inspector in which case the second car had to remain between 120 and 160 yards behind the first. The signals were similar to a set on the East Coburg line between Crozier St. and Harding St. installed in 1932 and operating instructions for both were similar.


In December 1950 a new system of lights was installed in Riversdale Rd. (Wattle Park) between the loop and Warrigal Rd. Each set of signals consisted of a green, a red and a red “T”. Commencing on December 11th – up cars at the loop waited at a compulsory track mark until departure time when they moved forward to a provisional mark. In doing so they registered a claim, by means of an overhead contactor, to use the single track. If the track was clear the green light was shown immediately but if the red light was on the red “T” also appeared to indicate that the claim had been registered.


Drivers of down trams at Warrigal Rd. made their claim for right of way by placing their point bar in a slot in the roadway to press a button. Overhead contactors were not used here so that cars shunting at Warrigal Rd. would not affect the signal working.


Due to confusion with road traffic signals the following changes were made on 17th May 1954. (See opposite)


On 3/12/52 the East Coburg line from Crosier St. to Edna Grove was equipped with new lights, overhead contactors at Edna Grove loop and a push button in the road at Crosier St. Signalling at both was eliminate when the track was duplicated.


(ii) NORTH BALWAYN – Macedon St. & Hill Rd. loop.


From Thursday September 18, 1952, until duplication was carried out lights similar to Wattle Park were used but the button at Macedon St. was mounted on an overhead pole instead of in the roadway.


(iii) EAST PRESTON – Miller St. Single line.


From August, 1928 until September, 1950 Mount B.....y was equipped with Ruddick signals. The replacement lights comprised of a red, green and red “T” and were operated by overhead contactors. In April 1955 staff working was used “at the ramp” and by June the contactors at the east (High St.) had been modified to trolley shoe operation and re-located in conjunction with the working over this line of cars from the then new East Preston depot.


(iv) ESSENDON AIRPORT – OVERHEAD ISOLATION.


At the request of the Dept. of Civil Aviation it was decided in February 1954 to isolate the overhead in Matthews Av. (poles 320-338) at all times except when a tram is in the section as the track crosses the approach path to the airport runway. Operation is triggered by isolated sections of the inner running rail on both up and down tracks about 70ft. Before the “dead” section of overhead. An underground cable continuously supplies power to the overhead beyond pole 338 and operation of the equipment is indicated by colour lights. As soon as the leading wheels of a car leave the insulated rail upon approaching, a relay is operated, closing the circuit breaker and energising the trolley wires. Two green lamps then light indicating the the driver is free to proceed. When running over the section of rail at the other end the wires are automatically de-energised. If more than one tram operates in the normally isolated section the wires remain energised until the last vehicle leaves the section. The system also operates on “band road” running. If the green light does not show when the tram runs over the approach rail the driver must operate a manual switch mounted in a box on pole 320. The overhead height in Matthews Av. Is lower than normal as an added safety measure.


(v) FRANKLIN ST. JUNCTION (Swanston St.).


The signal box and waiting room at the north end of Melbourne's main street were built in 1929. The interlocking system was supplied by the General Railway Signal Co. of Rochester, N.Y.


Signals for north bound cars are on the tramway overhead pole at the N.W. Corner and those for south bound trams on a standard on the N.E. corner. Affixed to the box are illuminated numbers 1 – 6 to indicate which crossover a terminating car was to use a “Q” light instructing cars to continue to Queensberry Street shunt. A cabin mounted buzzer gave the departure signal. The “Q” is a recent addition.

In July 1946 vehicular traffic signals were erected at the intersection and the following alterations were made:- (see opposite)


(green had become the standard signal for through traffic on the M&MTB). All indications but red are accompanied by a white “T” installed during the 1946 modifications. At times when the automatic vehicular signals are not in operation, trams still observe the tram signals. The pointwork at the intersection is motorised and controlled from the signal box.


If the signals become defective or a are obscured by fog etc., the signalman uses coloured glags and/or hand lamps.


(vi) ST. KILDA JUNCTION Signal Box.


This box, which stood on the corner of High and Wellington Sts. contained 5 “table interlockers” built by the General Railway Signal Co. in 1929. The interlockers were connected mechanically and electrically and signal lights functioned on 110V. D.C. Point motors used 600V. and the relays 12V, all supplied from the nearby tramway substation. In an emergency power could be obtained from the S.E.C.


The lights were as follows:















The re-building of the junction area during 1967-68 resulted in the replacement of the ½ grand union by 2 twin turnouts. At the St. Kilda Rd. - Queens way turnout a signal system using standard road signal parts was built. This usually shows a green light for up and down movements on the straight. For down movements on the curve cars must actuate an overhead contactor. Up cars pass over coils buried under the track. The magnetic deflection caused by the metal in the vehicle is detected to produce a green light when required.


If a conflicting movement is in progress the machine waits until the junction is clear. During this pause a “call recorded” sign lights up. A press button is provided for the use of the driver if the coils fail to work.


The second turnout has a point changing machine but the signals are on a fixed cycle and operate in conjunction with nearby road signals.

FROM

TO

LOCATION

COLOUR

Wellington St.

City

on signal cabin

White

Wellington St

Fitzroy St

on signal cabin

Green

High St

City

on signal cabin

Green

Fitzroy St

City

on pole in plantation (N.W. Cr.)

Amber

Fitzroy St

Wellington St

on pole in plantation (N.W. Cr.)

Green

City

Wellington St

pole 141-on safety zone

Amber

City

High St

pole 141-on safety zone

Green

City

Fitzroy St

pole 141-on safety zone

White

Stop


All 3 locations

Red

Before

After

Standard plain red light

Red "T"

Standard plain green light

Green "T"

Red "T"

Red "T"

Colour - Light Signals Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo G. Breydon – Volume 9, Number 5, October 1972

Photo: Motorman at Ballarat 32 setting signal light switch at Sturt and Grandville Streets.


Photo: Bendigo signal installation at Miller Street loop.


Photo: Old and new signals at the "hump", Thornbury, 1950.


Photo: Signal lights and signal box at St. Kilda junction in 1968.


NORTH BOUND CARS

1929

1946

into shunt

green

white

on through line

white

green

stop

red

red

SOUTH BOUND CARS



front shunt

green

white

though line

white

green

stop

red

red