Safe Working

The New Zealand Government Railways (NZGR) and its successors have used various safe working systems over the years. The aim of this page is to provide details of these systems.

HTML versions of various safeworking documents can be browsed online and PDF versions of the same documents downloaded for offline viewing.

See 1965 Rule 73 Train Stopped By Accident, Failure, Or Obstruction On Line.

Safeworking Systems Used in New Zealand

Used by Kiwi Rail in 2013:

Single Line Automatic (SLA)
Centralised Traffic Control (CTC)
Double Line Automatic Signalling (DLAS)
Track Warrant Control (TWC)
Station Limits
Track and Time Permits (Mis. 60)

New Signalling Rules:

In 2012 the Pilot for Automatic Signalling Rules (ASR) was introduced north and east of Te Rapa. The new rules replaced Double Line Automatic Signalling (DLAS) and Centralised Traffic Control (CTC). In August 2014 ASR was introduced in the lower North Island.

Obsolete Systems:

Open Section
One Engine in Steam
Electric Train Tablet
Line Clear (Included in the Tablet Regulations)
Pilot (Included in the Tablet and various of the other Regulations)
Train Staff & Ticket (deleted from Rule Book on 9 July 1956)
Manual Block (in the form Lock & Block and maybe Preece's instruments - Semaphore to CTC suggests that Preece's equipment was purchased but never used in NZ)
Winter Block
Lemon Block

PDF Versions Of Safeworking Documents

For offline browsing you can download the pdf versions of various safeworking documents.

HTML Versions Of Safeworking Documents

Obsolete Documents

Regulations For Working Single-Line Railways By The Electric Train Tablet System


This document defines three safeworking methods - Tablet, Pilot and Line Clear.

Includes a detailed description of Tablet Machine Operation; Bell Signals; Switching Stations In and Out; Locking of Signal Levers at Switch Out Stations; Bank Engine Keys; Suspension of Tablet Working; Pilot Working; Line Clear Working; Automatic Tablet Exchangers.

The tablet system was first installed in New Zealand in 1901 and the last section (Featherston - Masterton - Woodville) closed in 1994. See Train Advice 5685. Regulation 33 was the very last tablet regulation obeyed.

Regulations For Working Single-Line Railways By The Train Staff And Ticket System


Includes: Description; Trains to carry Staff or Ticket; Shunting outside Home signals; Crossing trains; Work trains; Obstructions; Portion of train left on section; Engine disabled; Lost staff; Pilot working.

This safe working system was sometimes used on the Hutt Park Line. See Train Advice 271.

A letter dated 16 June 1943 introduced the 1943 Rules and Regulations to "All Employees concerned with the Running of Trains". This version of the Rule Book came into operation on 1 November 1943. Staff & Ticket was deleted from the 1943 Rule Book on 9 July 1956.

Regulations For Automatic Signalling


The 1965 Automatic Signalling Regulations are an amalgam of Single Line Automatic, Double Line Automatic and CTC - unlike the later 1988 Rule Book which is more logically laid out.

The regulations include: Description and Meaning of Signals; Classification of Signals; Departure Signals; Attended and Unattended Crossing Stations; Pilot Working; Loss of Pilot Key; Train Disabled; Suspension of Automatic Signalling; Crossing Orders; "T" Lights and "Wanted Winkers".

Rules And Regulations



Includes: General Rules; Precautions For Safe Operation; Hand signals; Whistle Signals; Fixed Signals; Accident, failure or obstruction; Pilot working; Train Advices; Train Control System; Working Of Stations And Trains; Trolleys And Velocipedes; Permanent Way And Works and The Westinghouse Air Brake.

This page contains a selection of these rules. For the complete set of rules download a pdf version of the Rule Book .

In Use In 2013

Centralised Traffic Control Regulations



Double Line Automatic Signalling Regulations



Single Line Automatic Signalling Regulations



Pilot for Automatic Signalling Rules (ASR)


In 2012 the Pilot for Automatic Signallling Rules was introduced north and east of Te Rapa. The new rules replaced Double Line Automatic (DLAS) and Centralised Traffic Control (CTC).

The new rules introduced some new concepts.

The Introduction and Definitions sections of these rules can be viewed here.

Pilot for Automatic Signalling Rules

Track Warrant Control Regulations


The regulations include Limits of Track Warrant; Methods of Issuing Warrants; Cancelling Warrants; Warrant Stations; Working of Sidings; Passing Signals at Stop; Train Divided; Train Stopped by Accident or Failure.

In Track Warrant areas a single form is all that is required; contrast this with the multitude of forms requred in other areas. Track Warrant Control (TWC) is currently used north of Featherston in the Wairarapa (in the area covered by my ValleySignals site)

Rail Operating Rules


In 2012 the format of the Rule Book differs markedly from the 1965 book.

I have not placed a copy of these rules here because the documents are the Intellectual Property of KiwiRail.

Signal Rules

Track Safety Rules


In 2012 the Track Safety Rules, which protect workers on the track, probably occupy more space than the rules which protect trains. I may add a page explaining these rules.

I have not placed a copy of these rules here because the document is the Intellectual Property of KiwiRail.

Track Safety

Pilot for Alternative Track Safety Rules

The Track Safety Rules, which protect workers on the track, probably occupy more space than the rules which protect trains. In 2012 the Pilot for Alterniative Track Safety Rules was introduced north and east of Te rapa.

I have not placed a copy of these rules here because the document is the Intellectual Property of KiwiRail.

Pilot for Track Safety

Track And Time Permits


Mis. 60 Track and Time Permits are not a standalone safeworking method. Rather, they are a procedure defined in the rules to deal with non-standard situations.

A mis 60 is a numbered authority issued by Train Control to protect movements on the main line where additional safeguards are necessary. Any portion of the main line may be closed by a Mis 60 (Similar to a Block of Line train advice). In double line automatic areas Mis 60s may be used to authorise wrong line running or setting back movements. A Mis 60 must not be used in Track Warrant Control areas.

When there is a Block of Line north of Waterloo a Mis 60 acts as the equivalent of a Pilotman's Ticket on the up main between Waterloo and Woburn North Sidings.

Other Systems

Other Safeworking Methods

Special Bulletins and local instructions can define other safeworking methods on specified sections of line. I must, when motivated, create a page about these methods.

Three that spring to mind are the Operation of the Gracefield Industrial Siding; a form of Pilot Working at Woburn, when there is a Block of Line from Waterloo to Upper Hutt; and operation within Station Limits.


Format of Rules and Regulations

To understand the variety of documents it is necessary to understand how the format of the Rules and Regulations documents has changed over the years. This is my first stab at an explanation and is off the top of my head because most of my books are currently packed. Here are two messages I posted to a railway signalling group. I hope to re-write and re-format this material sometime.

First Message

The 1965 Regulations for Automatic Signalling contains the following definition:

The object of automatic signalling is to facilitate the regular movements of trains by dividing the line into sections and automatically maintaining a safe space interval between following trains.

This object is accomplished by controlling the signal governing the entrance to a section by track circuits so that when a train enters a section the signal is automatically held at "Stop" until the train is under the protection of the signal next in advance. To enable the order of trains to be controlled some automatic signals may also be held at "Stop" by a Signalman.

The 1943 and 1965 Rule Books contained a single set of Automatic Signalling Regulations. These regulations were split into two parts - common regs and the extra regs required for single line [1]. In the 1988 rule book the CTC, DLAS and SLA regs replaced the Automatic Signalling Regs. That situation still applies today with the electronic version of the rule book.

  • CTC Single line, remotely controlled. mis 59 required to pass a signal at stop. A clear signal gives authority to proceed.
  • DLAS Double line. Signals at stop can be passed on verbal authority. A clear signal gives authority to proceed.
  • SLA Single line, points manually operated. mis 59 required to pass a signal at stop. A clear signal and timetable authority required to proceed. With single manning and hte introduction of radio I celieve that there have been sigificant changes to these regs.

On Mon 4th Aug 2014 things go full circle in the southern part of the North Island. The CTS and DLAS regs will be replaced with a single set of rules called Automatic Signalling Rules (ASR). (SLA is not used in the North Island.) In ASR multi-line replaces the concept of double track. Rule 10 of the DLAS states "Trains must run on the left-hand line in the direction in which they are travelling except as otherwise authorised by the Officer Controlling Train-running." In ASR the running directions are shown on the S&I diagrams. Trains can be authorised to run in the "wrong" direction without the issue of a mis 60 as at present.

[1] My rule books are packed so I am writing this from memory.

Second Message

A further complication in trying to understand how this all fits together is where signal aspects are defined.

The 1965 Rule Book included signal definitions in the Automatic Signalling Regulations. In the 1988 book these definitions were moved to a separate "Signal Rules" section.

It seems that the format of the rule book for the forseeable future will be (simplified explanation):

  • General Rules
  • Signal Rules
  • Automatic Signalling Rules (ASR)
  • Track Warrant Regs (TWC)
  • Track Safety Rules (potection of track workers)

and until ASR is introduced in the South Island the CTC and SLA regs.

Last Updated: Sun August 3 2014

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