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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Petone (New Zealand) Signalbox to Close

I don't normally do foreign (non-North America) signaling news simply because there is so much of it and it would require all sorts of explanations of how such and such technology compares to what most of the other readers of this blog are familiar with.  The small signalbox at Petone, NZ is special because not only has it been very well documented by the Hutt Valley signaling page, but also because both New Zealand and Australia see a lot of North American style signaling practices, even if it is by way of UK licenses of traditional US&S and GRS technology. Also like North America New Zealand is rapidly running out of manned interlocking towers so the loss of this one is worthy of note.

Petone signalbox showing the 67 signal displaying Clear for a Wellington bound train.
 The interlocking tower, or Signalbox in commonwealth terminology, is almost entirely North American in design with a familiar black CTC-style desk console and searchlight signals out in the field.  It is an all relay plant that today control controls two crossovers and one turnout for a branch line.  It is stunning that it has held on in service for as long as it has, even with just a single 12 hour shift.

 As you can see here in this photograph of the console the amount of territory and interlocking appliances under Petone's control has shrunk dramatically since it was built in the 1950's, especially in the Petone Station area.  I should also mention that Petone is CTC in the PRR fashion with remote interlockings on ABS signaled lines instead of lines with actual traffic control.

Click here for a higher resolution image.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Patone box is being re-signaled and is finally closing on Christmas Day, 2013.  More unfortunately is that the new interlocking is going to use "tip over" LED signals and axle counters instead of track circuits because its always better to infer the location of trains than, you know, DETECT THEM.

68 reverse direction dwarf signal and its new replacement.  The line will be moving from ABC to CTC.
 Anyway if you happen to live in New Zealand make sure you get out there and grab some photos before the box closes.  You have no excuse thanks to all the nice sunny weather this time of year.  If you are interested in the re-signalling project check out this very detailed page here:

UPDATE:  Friend of the blog  Sophisa, who lives in the Wellington area, actually went out and took a number of very nice photos for me including the outstanding high res CTC console shots.  Just goes to show what the ladies are capable of in the sausage fest that is railroading.  Thank you so much!!  You can find all her photos here.

What's going on here o.0
DOUBLE UPDATE:  Found a photo of the "new" PETONE CTC console.


  1. What is a "tip over" signal? Is that just a different way of bagging or turning it sideways?

    1. Look how the signal is tipped over to change the bulbs and such. They tried something like that in North America, but it required that the entire signal be taken out of service, which is a painful operational procedure. Overseas who knows what they can get away with.