Tunnel Junction (1) - SignallingWA

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Tunnel Junction (1)

Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

1938 WAGR MAP Mileage = 16

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Quick Facts







10 Levers

Upper Quadrant Signals

Fate: Abandoned, then destroyed by fire

Located high on the Darling Scarp on the W. A. G. R.'s Eastern Railway, Tunnel Junction was possibly one of Western Australia's more isolated, yet picturesque locations. The Signalmen in this cabin signalled 'Up' trains (travelling down-hill) into the eastern end of the narrow, single bore, brick lined tunnel built in 1895.

Locomotive crews of trains travelling through the tunnel in the opposite direction,
'Down' trains (going up-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, as the train stalled and then ran back eventually derailing at Swan View.

Over the years, there have been two Tunnel Junction cabins, and both were located in the John Forrest National Park which is one of Australia's oldest conservation areas, and was Western Australia's first national park. In recent years, the park was used for a children's television series called "Bush Patrol" in which the tunnel was featured.

In the photo above, Signalman Alfred E. Riseley sits in the window of the very isolated and somewhat inaccessable Tunnel Junction Signal Cabin.

The two boards hanging from the window sills, one at each end of the cabin are typical of the era. These boards were painted black on one side and white on the other. They were visual indicators to Inspectors and District Supervisors who may be on passing trains. The square board indicated the condition of the Block or Electrical Instruments and the triangular board indicates the state of the interlocking apparatus.

If any of the equipment was not in proper working order, then the Signalman would reverse the appropriate board so that the black side would show.

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The Signalman was still required to report the failure of equipment 'in the normal manner' anyway (by railway telephone), but there was always a chance that technicians or interlocking fitters would see the boards and rectify the problems just by having seen the indicators, thereby saving valuable time. Use of these boards was discontinued in March 1951.

Tunnel Junction signal cabin was located at 15 mile 40 chains and was opened on 4/7/1934 and trains were worked over the single line between Swan View and Tunnel Junction under the Rules applicable to Automatic three-position upper quadrant signalling (single line).

Tunnel Junction, worked on the West ('Up' side) with Swan View. To the East ('Down' side) Tunnel Junction worked with Parkerville.

Tunnel Junction cabin was rendered obsolete with the opening of the deviation line around the Swan View Tunnel on 25/11/1945. On this deviation line, a special Rock Slide Detector Fence was installed in the steep cutting at 14 Mile 58 Chain. A special 'Rock Slide Detector Fence' was installed on 11/2/1946 the steep cutting at 14 Mile 58 Chain. 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.

A second, temporary, Tunnel Junction 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 photo of the Tunnel Junction end of the Swan View Tunnel is awash with interesting details. The bush is less dense than it is today, and the permanent way depot is prominent on the right hand side of the scene. Note the rails at right angles to the running rails. These permitted the easy loading / unloading of Per. Way Ganger's trollies (which were banned from the tunnel). Ganger's Tricycles and Trollies were used by the Length Runners who checked the condition of the sleepers and rails so that maintainence could be carried out, or scheduled for the gang, if the problem was greater than one man's capacity to remedy. When a Length Runner was in the section ABSOLUTE BLOCK working was a necessity to ensure his protection. Automatic signal No. 1194 displays "CLEAR" which indicates that the tunnel is clear and that the next signal, No. 1152, in advance (on the approach to Swan View) is also at "Proceed" (either Caution or Clear).

Shirley Meakins (Tunnel Junction Signalman Alfred Riseley's daughter) recalls: "We had been living in Parkerville. When my father was appointed to Tunnel Junction, the railways built two houses in the National Park near Tunnel Junction Cabin to house the Signalmen and their families. Going to school in Midland was by means of a passing ('Up' - Ed.) passenger train in the morning, but getting home again more difficult. The only passenger train leaving Midland around 4:00 o'clock was the Albany Express. The stopping of this train at Swan View for the railway children there, and Tunnel Junction for school children to alight caused a furore amongst the officials, but there was no other way to get the children home to these (then) remote locations."

Fellow Railway Researcher Jeff Austin reports: "The WAGR Annual Report of 1949, reported that the Tunnel Junction signal box was destroyed by fire on 23 February 1949." This raises the interesting fact that the signal box was left in-situ for four years after closure. Could anyone with further information on this please advise of the reasons?

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, A. E. Riseley, Jack Stanbridge, Rail HeritageWA Archives and linked Photograph © by Weston Langford

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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.




Beedeison, Phillip Joseph
02/07/1934 - Employee Record Signalman
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