Featherston Signal Panel

The Featherston station panel was commissioned in 1957 as part of the Trentham - Upper Hutt - Featherston CTC system. It was probably planned to extend the system to Masterton. The next station to the north, Woodside, was equipped with motor points and colour light signals but never connected to the CTC system.

Over the years the way Featherston Station has been operated has changed. Initially Featherston was a permanent signal box; in more recent years the panel was switched in just once per year - on Toast Martinborough Day.

Over the weekend of 16th/17th December control of Featherston was transferred from Upper Hutt to the Network Control Centre and the station signal panel decommissioned.

(Right)   The Featherston panel switched in for the last time on Toast Martinborough Day, 19th November 2006. Note the signal flags.

Featherston panel three quarter view

Featherston Panel

Featherston panel closeup

The Unattended/Attended switch (control lever 5) is in the Attended position because Featherston is switched in for Toast Martinborough Day. The first special of the morning is approaching from Upper Hutt.

1 points are locked normal and 2R signal, the Up Home, has been cleared. Unlike Trentham there is no green indication, so a cleared signal must be inferred from the absence of a red light. 8 signal is at Stop and 7 points are Normal, but free to be reversed.

The yale lock was control lever E2L. It released Upper Hutt's slot control on 2L, the Down Departure signal, in emergency conditions. The lamp to the left may have been the Slot Release light.

The Control Changeover lever (no. 3) releases the three local panels and the switchlocks in the yard. The switchlocks are free, meaning they can be operated without taking local control provided 1 & 7 mainline points are normal.

The Up & Down Homes are fitted with low-speed lights but there are no controls on the panel. I assume these lights illuminated automatically if a train was signalled onto an occupied track.

Featherston Yard Panels

As well as the signal panel in the Featherson Station building there were three local panels in the yard.

3B yard panel with magneto phone(Above) 3B yard panel. Note the magneto phone. Photo C McSkimming.
3A panel in use

(Above) On Toast Martinborough Day 2006 3A local panel (in the shelter) is used to control the shunting of one of the special trains. Photo A Wickens

local panel details

(Above) 3B yard panel switches. Photo C MkSkimming.

Delegation Of Control

In this age of the Internet, portable radios and cell phones it is interesting to study how, with 1950s technology, control was delegated to lower levels in the rail network. The diagrams below show how control was progressively transferred from the Upper Hutt CTC panel to the Featherston Station panel and then to local panels in the Featherston yard.

Upper Hutt

Switch B3 on the Upper Hutt panel gives Featherston local control. The Start button (not visible) must be pressed to send the code. It is Toast Martinborough Day but unfortunately the Featherston signalman had switched out for lunch when the photo was taken.

Upper Hutt local changeover

Featherston Station

The Featherston signalman has placed lever 5 in the Attended position take local control. Upper Hutt will have authorised the change by operating lever B3. Switch 3 remains in the C position so the three yard panels cannot be used.

Photo taken on Toast Martinborough Day.

Featherston local changeover

Featherston Station

Switch 3 is now in the L position and the L light illuminated - the Featherston signalman has transferred control to the yard panels.

Photo taken on Toast Martinborough Day.

Featherston yard changeover

Featherston Yard

The lamp is illuminated when the Featherston signalman has placed his lever 3 in the L position. The shunter then switches in the local panel.

Photo C McSkimming (not taken on Toast Martinborough Day).

Featherston Yard changeover

How The Signal Panel Was Used

My Interpretation Of The S & I Diagrams - Some is Speculation

Semaphore Up Home signal and colour light Down Departure signal. Featherston was mechanically signalled with CTC in operation from Upper Hutt to the south end of Featherston.

Colour light signals and motor points installed. Classed as a permanent signalbox because there was tablet working north of Featherston. All movements were controlled from the panel. Upper Hutt had slot control on the Down Departure signals.

About 1989
Classed as a switch-out signalbox. Upper Hutt could control some mainline signals but not the mainline points. Tablet was in use north of Featherston until 1994 but most trains ran without Tablet on Safeall authorities. Featherston was switched in for crossing trains and shunting. Upper Hutt had slot control on the Down Departure signals.

I assume that this arrangement was introduced to reduce costs and that there were insufficient CTC addresses for full control from Upper Hutt.

About 1999
Classed as a local control panel. Upper Hutt controlled the mainline points and signals - i.e. Featherston was now a conventional CTC crossing station. Featherston was switched in only when the switchlocks and yard panels were to be used. With the closure of local stations this effectively meant just once a year - Toast Martinborough Day.

Did this become possible after Maymorn and Rimutaka Loop were closed - i.e. CTC addresses were released?

December 2006
Control of Featherston was transferred from Upper Hutt to the Network Control Centre. The station panel was decomissioned. Not sure if the yard panels were retained for use on Toast Martinborough Day.

Last Updated: Tue May 2013

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