With Regards to your 4th picture, the identification code, "PCM" attached to the signal post, is actually the abbreviation for Potchefstroom. I remember this signal very well from days gone by, back in the early 90’s, when I use to work for Spoornet as a “Student” Electric Train Drives’ Assistant, during school and college breaks, out of the Braamfontein Electric Traction Depot. Many a working to Klerksdorp and back to the Reef, via Cachet, Welverdiend, Bank, and Randfontein, this signal was regularly passed on route back! Potchefstroom for some odd reason, when converted from semaphore signalling to CTC signalling back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, the, then railway signalling department decided to use signalling infrastructure based on German signalling style, design and principles, but keeping to the standard SAR methods of signalling, as so well illustrated in your picture.
I’m not sure why they choose this particular signal design at the time; however Potchefstroom always stands out in the back of my mind as the only station closest to the Reef area that had a different signalling “style” (if I may call it like that), as to what else was available on the Reef at the time.
I also seem remember that I saw, when I travelled down to Port Elizabeth on the overnight Algoa Main Line Train from JHB, in the mid 90’s, that a small station or crossing place, somewhere south of Hamilton, on the Bloemfontein to Springfontein section was also kitted out similarly, with this German signalling “style”. Maybe some of our “older” generation can remind us of the place that I’m thinking of . . . . ., and as to why the railways at the time chose to use this German “style” of signalling?
More than likely, due to the rationalization of our railways since Spoornet days, this particular spot that I’m thinking of, has been probably wiped off the “railway map” many years ago!
Potchefstroom has its own CTC office, adjacent to what was the loco depot on the North-western side of the goods yard, and controls the following sections of line;
CTC Potchefstroom hands over or takes over control of trains to and from Klerksdorp (Klerksdorp CTC), about midway between Koekemoer and New Machavie.
From Potchefstroom Station the triple line splits or into two directions. Firstly, the triple track leaves Potchefstroom in a northerly direction to a junction just north of Cachet Station (which has not seen use in many a decade), where the double mainline line continues around a sweeping right-hand turn, and heads east towards Houtheuwel. Potchefstroom CTC controls only a short bit of this section, only as far as, just east of passing place, named Tarentaal (Not sure if spelling is correct), and hands train control over to CTC Leeuhof.
The single line heading north, which you probably travelled on with your trip to Johannesburg recently, is the single line section, from the junction north of Cachet, which is the Safarcamp to Welverdiend section. Prior to March 2001, this particular section - Safarcamp to Welverdiend, which included manned stations - in between at Boskop and Frederikstad, train movements were controlled solely by Absolute Van Schoor Token Telegraph system, or when these train instruments failed, then absolute paper telegraph orders replaced the failed token system.
I particularly enjoyed working on this particular section of line when I was a “Student” Electric Train Drives’ Assistant on the railways at the time, the main reason being, that we as footplate staff had to catch or exchange tokens on the run. We exchanged many tokens at a rather sedate speed of 60km/h or less, but it’s an unforgettable experience when tokens had to be exchanged at the four station along this section of line, at speeds in excess of 80km/h, with the Blue Train breathing down the cleared sections behind the train/s that I worked on!!!!
It was always a bit of safe footplate fun we had and enjoyed with the co-operation of signalling staff, to see if we could keep ahead of the Blue.
After March 2001, all the stations along the Safarcamp to Welverdiend section were closed, thus rendering the Van Schoor and paper telegraph systems useless. This was replaced with Radio Telegraph Orders, which to my current knowledge, is operated, and controlled from Coligny, thus the “Token and Proceed Signal” notice attached to the signal, to remind the drive of a train that he will be entering a controlled single line section! Notice only the direction indicator is illuminated, above a red signal which informs the driver that he must stop, however the route ahead has been set correctly towards the single line section.
The driver must then await the exchange of the necessary radio messages, completion of all relevant radio telegraph documents and obtain a “right away” to proceed into a single line section from the train assistant.
Before the train driver departs from the Red signal, the train assistant must also obtain an Authority to pass a signal at danger from Potchefstroom CTC, before the train may depart from the Red signal and enter the single line, Safarcamp to Welverdiend section.
With regards to the last two pictures, and I stand to be corrected, Andrea is a one of three control points which is located on the recently completed triangle, which forms a new junction just west of what use to be Welverdiend station. Trains can now be obviously turned more easily, and the triangle adds added advantage that locomotive need not run around their loads in what is left of the Welverdiend goods yard, and thus a direct route for trains from Potchefstroom to Coligny and visa verse.
The signals that you’re referring to in your last two pictures are actually points indicators, new electrical versions of the old mechanical points indicators (or otherwise known as Dalton Points Indicators (old mechanical points indicators)), that we see along the Magaliesburg and other secondary lines around the country.
You may have also seen these mechanical indicators around the Western and Eastern Cape section, as well.
On the line north from Pretoria, many stations, and passing loops are also kitted out with this new electrical points indicators. I have seen two ways that these electrically operated point indicators can be operated, namely;
By remote control from the drivers’ cab using specified remote control for different sections; or otherwise the train assistant climbs down from the locomotive, unlocks the relevant control electrical box, and operates the points with the indictor by de-pressing the required button on a panel within the control box.
I hope that helps!
SAR - Steam Active Recruit