22 October 2011

British-era lever-frame signal cabin now history

Last few hand-operated lever frame railway signal cabins pulled down
Published: Saturday, Oct 22, 2011, 10:00 IST
By Rajendra Aklekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
One of the last few hand-operated lever frame railway signal cabins near Dadar railway station was pulled down last week.
Such cabins were inseparable part of the Bombay railways when tracks were changed to divert trains.
Called Dadar South Cabin, the structure belonging to the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (now called Western Railway) had also featured and documented in a number of railway heritage books and journals. The Dadar South Cabin was pulled down as it had become weak and could have posed danger to commuters in passing trains. “The Dadar South Cabin was crucial one as Dadar was one of the main interchange points between WR and CR," a retired official said.
The railways in Mumbai were the first ones in South East Asia and all the equipment used were brought by the sea route in steamers from London. “Early signaling in India was supplied from the UK. Many wayside stations were signaled in a style more associated with European practice,” John Hinson, railway signaling historian based in the UK said.
Sources said with technological advancements in signaling and power supply, old lever-frame signal boxes are fast vanishing from the railways in Mumbai. “Only a handful of lever-frame signal boxes remain along the running lines today, though a few functional ones continue to slog along some lesser-known sidings and railway yards. Hand-operated levers can still be found at yards like CST, Dadar, Kalyan, Bandra and also along the old stretches of the port trust line,'' an official said.
The signal boxes were modelled on the British Railway signaling systems and the one at Andheri and Elphinstone Road were based on the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in Britain, with the track layout painted in white on a black background and manufactured by the Railway Signal Company in the UK. A similar signal box originally manufactured by Westinghouse Company of UK was also found at Kurla till recently.