Swan View - SignallingWA

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Swan View

Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

1938 WAGR MAP Mileage = 14

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Quick Facts







16 Levers

First Electric Point Motors

Fate: Signal Cabin foundations preserved on site

Swan View
is situated on what might be described as a 'ledge' formed half way up Greenmount on the side of the Darling Scarp, this station has a commanding view over Perth's coastal plain. When interlocking was first brought into use at Swan View on the 9th February 1898, the signal cabin was fitted with a ten-lever frame. This was replaced on 8th November 1900 with a sixteen lever machine. It is interesting to note that, like Maylands, the levers faced towards the back wall of the small cabin. The Swan View signal cabin conformed to the 'standard' design for platform mounted lever cabins, being of weatherboard and corrugated iron construction. The W. A. G. R. photo above shows the "Up" face of the island platform and the station buildings. The tall palm trees of today were mere shrubs back then! 3-position Starter and Home signals are at left.

Swan View, worked on the West
(or 'Up' side) with Bellevue, and to the East (or 'Down' side) worked with Tunnel Junction or Parkerville.

The railway through Swan View was originally built as a single line, worked under the rules governing the Electric Train Staff system. The "Appendix to the Working Timetable" of 1901 reveals that the Staff for section Bellevue (23miles 50 chains from Fremantle) to Swan View (26miles 5 chains from Fremantle) was coloured GREEN with a Square shaped head, whilst the Staff for the section Swan View to Parkerville (31 miles 20 chains from Fremantle) was coloured RED with a Round shaped head. At this time, only the Large Staff instruments were in use.

Recognised early in the station's life, was the need for an additional saftey feature, in the form of a 790 foot long runaway siding.

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This meant that should a train become uncoupled and begin to run away downhill towards Bellevue, then it could be derailed in a 'controlled' fashion away from the main line, rather than run into any other train traversing the section between Swan View and Bellevue. An example of this is that locomotive crews of trains travelling through the tunnel in the 'Down' direction, (Down trains - went up the hill) were subjected to much smoke and fumes in the tunnel due to the tunnel's narrow bore. The crew of one train was so overcome by fumes, that a serious accident ensued in 1942. The train stalled in the tunnel and then ran back, eventually derailing in the Swan View runaway. In very recent times, a similar disaster involved a road truck descending Greenmount via the Great Eastern Highway with a heavy load of grain. Unable to stop, the truck collided with cars which were stopped at the Roe Highway traffic lights at the base of the hill. Eventually, a heavy vehicle 'arrestor bed' was provided, similar in principal to the former - its rail counterpart at Swan View.

A Bank Engine Key was provided in 1913. This device, which did indeed look like a key - albeit with an oversize ring for a handle, was normally kept in a 'Switch Lock' at the station. The 'Switch Lock' was wired directly into the Electric Staff instrument circuit between Swan View and Parkerville and, as an integral part of this device, prevented the instruments further use until the Bank Engine Key was replaced into its Switch Lock at Swan View.

Bank Engine Key working was carried out where a train was required to be assisted in the rear up a steep section of line (a 'bank') by another locomotive (a Bank Engine). Bank Engines are not always required to travel through the entire section, and would often just detach and return to the station whence they originated. The driver of the Train engine (the locomotive at the front of the train, or if there were two or more locos, the loco coupled onto the train) would carry the staff for the section, but would also be shown the Bank Engine Key (as would the drivers of any other locos at the front of the train). The Signalman would then verbally advise the driver of the train engine that his train was to be assisted in the rear by a Bank Engine. In order to advise the Driver of the Bank Engine that the Driver of the Train Engine had received the Staff for the section ahead (and had seen the Bank Engine Key) the Driver of the Train Engine acknowledged his understanding of this arrangement by signing a paper Form indicating these facts and the approximate location that the Bank Engine would run to before detaching. To indicate that all was in order and that the Bank Engine was ready to assist the train, the Driver of the Bank Engine would give a Long - Short - Long code on the locomotive whistle. The Train Engine was not permitted to enter the section until such whistle code had been heard.

In order to advise the Signalman at Parkerville of this arrangement, the bell code 'Return Bank Engine' - (2 pause 3 pause 4) would have been sent when the train was signalled 'On Line' with 'Train Departure' - (2 bells), and 'Bank Engine returned with key' - (4 pause 1 pause 4) would be sent once the Bank Engine had returned with the key and inserted it into the 'Switch Lock'.

When stationed at Swan View, a Bank Engine would be kept in the 'Down' siding, or even on the 'Up' main if the Swan View to Parkerville section was not occupied by a train. This enabled the rapid attachment of the Bank Engine to the train.

The 1922 General Appendix to the Book of Rules and Working Timetable shows that Swan View was provided with an 'Up' Inner Distant, which "...must be regarded in the same manner as the Distant Signal". This arrangement was similar to that in force at Fremantle Box 'A'

On 3/1/1926 a major innovation reached Swan View in the form of Automatic three-position upper quadrant signals. These electrically-worked signals controlled trains along the single line, and remained in force to Parkerville, and then Tunnel Junction until the commissioning of the tunnel deviation line on 1945. Electric point motors were fitted to Swan View points on 23/12/1929 - an entry in the 1930 Annual Report of the W. A. G. R reported:

 "The extension of the Station Yard at Swan View necessitated an alteration to the automatic and mechanical signalling, as well as the provision of electric power mechanisms to operate the crossover at the West end of the yard owing to the points being too great a distance from the signal box for manual operation. Consequent on the alterations some new features of working were introduced.
 The manual system of signalling through the station was changed to semi-automatic working; this necessitated the distant signal being replaced by an automatic, arranged so that it normally gave a "caution" indication, and only showed "clear" when the station signals are "off" and the track sections to which they apply are unoccupied.
 The electric power operated points mark the first introduction of power worked points on the Western Australian Government Railways. They are controlled by a special Pistol Grip shelf lever in the signal box; this lever is interlocked with the mechanical frame, and ensures that the points are properly set and bolted before the levers which operate the signals can be moved.
 The facing points with this method of operation are not provided with a lock bar, as in the manual system, to prevent the movement of the points suring the passage of a train through them; this protection is obtained by the rails being track circuited for the length of the crossover, so that a vehicle standing on or foul of the points cuts off the power from the mechanisms, and as the mechanisms have a self-contained mechanical lock, the points are locked both mechanically and electrically."

The opening of the deviation line around the tunnel on 25/11/1945 formed the 'Down' main line of the new double line section to Parkerville. A special 'Rock Slide Detector Fence' was installed on 11/2/1946 the steep cutting at 14 Mile 58 Chain. This was connected into the electric circuit for Three Position Upper Quadrant Automatic Signal No. 1177 (Photo by Weston Langford - taken on 20/11/1965 showing the Swan View Deviation Landslide Protection fence). To indicate the special protection affored by this signal, a letter "P" was painted on the signal mast above the signal number. Should a rock fall break any of the wires of this fence, then Signal No. 1177 would be placed at "Danger" (signal arm horizontal). The Driver would then act in accordance with Rule 64(b) of the 1940 Book of Rules and "...bring his train to a stand at such Signal. After waiting Track Section time, he may then proceed cautiously being prepared to stop clear of any obstruction or until he receives a further signal for his guidance." (A note applicable to Rules (63) and (64) clarifies the term 'Track Section' as being the running time between a Signal and the Signal next in advance). It is also interesting to note the additional instructions issued in the 1963 General Appendix to the Book of Rules - no less than 12 paragraphs detailed procedures involved with the rock slide detector fence and the working of trains through the tunnel. The Signalman at Swan View also received advice of the state of the fence, by the provision of an indicator which worked in the same fashion of a three-position upper quadrant signal.

For a short period in 1956, the Signalman at Swan View found himself working with a second, temporary, Tunnel Junction cabin. The new cabin was provided at the 15 mile 30 chain mark on 13th of February 1956 due to the requirement to conduct rail traffic over the deviation line in both directions. This was neccessary due to work being carried out in the tunnel to lower the tunnel floor to permit the use of larger locomotives being bought by the W. A. G. R. at the time. Automatic signalling was suspended and replaced by Staff working. Upon completion of re-grading work in the tunnel, the temporary cabin was closed and double line working to Parkerville was restored on the 10th of June 1956. The Swan View station and signal cabin, along with many others on the 'old Eastern line', was closed on 13/2/1966 with the opening of the Avon Valley Route. All equipment was removed over ensuing months.

These days, one can walk the track formation, and the platform at Swan View remains, as does the foundation of the signal cabin. The steel support provided for the lever frame still being evident. The station area, which once had two siding roads is now a grassed public open space. A pleasant days outing can be had by any semi-fit person walking the former formations around Swan View station. The station can be found at the top end of Morrison Road, Swan View

Information researched and interpreted by Chris. J. E. French of SignallingWA

Any additional information on this signal cabin would be most welcome - please use the e-mail form provided on this page.

Photographs © by
SIGWA member Ric. Edwards and Chris. J. E. French and linked Photograph © by Weston Langford

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SWAN VIEW Employees

This list may not be complete and does not yet include employees who worked here without being appointed.
Where an appointment date is unknown, the Weekly Notice (WN) date advising of the appointment or other official documentation, i.e. Certificate of Competency (CC) will be used.




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