|View single post by Salada|
|Posted: Sun Feb 23rd, 2014 04:54 pm||
|A very pleasant experience I had one day some years back was riding a long way across Southern Ireland (Irish Republic) in the cab of a La Grange built GM CIE Class 141. The weather was beautiful & I spent a lot of time out of the cab, leaning over the footplate side railings, just watching the endless emerald green scenery glide past - see stock photo below :
It was a long single line only that relied on the "Train staff" method of track access permission.
A "Train staff" can take various forms, normally it is a tennis racquet sized & shaped open steel hoop; the 'handle' end engraved with the name of that particular track section or the names of the stations at each end of that section.
Unless a train is booked to stop at the end of a section the normal practice is that the Fireman leans out, holding the handle end in one hand whilst raising the other arm to enter the 'loop' end of the Trainstaff being held aloft by the Signalman to give permission to enter the next section ahead.
The following photos should give you an idea :
In the second photo the guy in the high-vis has the Staff held aloft in his left hand whilst his right arm is extended to enter the hoop end of the staff being exchanged by the fireman (English left hand drive loco of course, unless it's the GWRR which is RH drive !!).
Being a hard-edged steel hoop weighing about 5-6 lbs this requires some previous experience to get it right. Max passing speed is/was supposed to be 15 mph but if running late any speed would do !!! (Ouch !!). The guy in the first photo isn't doing it right.
So there I am, cruisin' nice when we come towards a section break. I'm leaning out the cab, proper style, when the Engineer starts laughing. Apparently the old Signalboy ahead ain't never learnt to do it right !. With mostly single handed cab operation these days the lone Engineer stops & gently hands over the Staff. Me being me of course I'm going to do it right - as we approach the Box (signalbox) I can see a rather confused old boy down at track level, hopping around from one foot to another, raising first one arm then the other, then reversing his arm position, & again & again etc. I maintain my pose till the very last moment then I deftly throw my Staff at his feet whilst scooping up his proffered Staff in my other hand - without stopping of course.
Well, some hours later we're on our way back & the same old boy is still on duty; I could see him having a fit from 300 yards away !!. No, he hadn't figured it out in the previous few hours !!.
Finally a photo of an old CIE Class 121, another La Grange product. Originally intended to work either way there was soon a series of accidents, Engineers stuffing cars into each other if driving 'Hood first', which is strange if used to driving from the 'wrong' end of a long boiler in steam days. 'Cab first only' working soon became the rule.