Featherston Signalling History

This page documents signalling and track layout changes at Featherston. Note that although CTC was installed between Upper Hutt and Featherston in 1955, and Featherston received colour light signals in 1957, it is only recently that the station has come under CTC control. There have been some subtle - and not obvious to the casual observer - changes in the way Featherston has been operated.

Local Instruction L286  describes the operation of this station in 1989.


The date is that on the S & I - not necessarily the date the changes were commissioned.

Before October 1955. Featherston is a mechanically signalled tablet station. I do not have any other details.

October 1955 The Upper - Hutt - Featherston CTC system is commissioned. Featherston remains a mechanically signalled tablet station, although there is a three position colour light down departure signal.

February 1957 Featherston is converted from mechanical to colour light signalling.

December 1973 Tablet Exchanger removed.

July 1982 Tablet exchanger gone and station switchout by this date.

June 1994 TWC replaces Tablet working and CTC extended to north end of Featherston.

November 1999 Intermediate signal 5835 becomes A8L; Shunting limit Board installed;

February 2007 Control of station transferred to Train Control.

Mid 2008 Yard rationalised.

October 1955

The Upper Hutt - Featherston CTC system was commissioned but Featherston remained a mechanically signalled tablet station. The down departure signal was a three position colour light controlled from Upper Hutt. The Up Home two-position semaphore remained, as did the Up Distant colour light signal. Featherston had an emergency station control panel - what did it control?

February 1957

Converted to colour lights but remained a tablet station. Featherston is a permanent signal box. There is slot control between the Upper Hutt and Featherston signal boxes. Local control panels are provided, but the interlocking provides for shunting from the loop to sidings, south backshunt or stockyards without taking local control provided the main line points are normal (free switchlocks?).

December 1973

Tablet exchanger removed; barrier controls added to diagram; CTC begins/ends boards installed.

July 1982

The Borrow Pit switchlocked siding has been removed. I believe that Featherston was still an attended station in 1982. Local Instruction L246 (June 1983) mentions local control, but this is the use of local panels in the Featherston yard. It does not relate to Featherston being switched out with control from Upper Hutt. A later instruction, number L286 (March 1989) introduces "Attended/Unattended" (i.e. switchout) control.

June 1994

Train Advice 5685 covered the end of Tablet working (on 4th July 1994) - not only in the Wairarapa but also in New Zealand after approximately 90 years (C Johnson collection). Tablet Regulation 33 was the last Tablet Regulation obeyed in NZ. On this day Track Warrant Control (TWC) was introduced north of Featherston.

Featherston had been converted to switchout operation by at least 1989. Draft Local Instruction L286, dated March 1989, contains the following paragraph (which does not appear in Local Instruction 246 June 1983):

Provision has been made for Featherston to be unattended for signalling purposes when trains are running without tablet. When Featherston is unattended signal 2LA is controlled directly by the CTC operator, Upper Hutt. Signal 8RA is controlled from a pushbutton on the station platform and signals 2RABC and 8LABC will clear automatically for the passage of trains through the station.

By 1994 the push button for signal 8RA Up Starting From Main had been removed. The text associated with S & I 2245 (July 1994) included the following:

When Unattended:

Nos 2LA and 8RA signal will be controlled directly by Signalman Upper Hutt. Nos 2R and 8L dignals will clear automatically for the passage of each train through the main line.

March 1989 was also when the south backshunt truncated and points indicator 1P1 removed; CTC territory extended to north end, with Upper Hutt having control of the points and signals at both ends of the station. (Maybe CTC addresses became free when the Maymorn and Rimutaka loops were closed?). TWC replaces tablet working.

November 1999

The latest information I have. Featherston is now classed as a local control panel, not a signal box. North of Featherston is TWC territory. The double unit down Stop & Proceed intermediate signal has been replaced by a single unit approach signal. The south end points indicator has been removed and the south backshunt truncated (in 1989?). "Express Freight 70" boards now in use. Note the Shunting Limit Board which allows trains to enter the single line section without a Warrant - why is A8L classed as an approach signal rather than an Outer Home?

I believe that in 2006 Upper Hutt controls all mainline points and signals at Featherston. This change may have been implemented in 1999.

February 2007

Control of Featherston was transferred from Upper Hutt to Train Control. The panel in the station building was decommissioned as were the three local panels in the yard.

Mid 2008

The yard was rationalised. This diagram is based on a quick observation from a passenger train and so may not be accurate.

Last Updated: Sat Sep 27 13:00:32 NZST 2008

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