Masterton Signalling & Operations

Masterton in the Wairarapa contain some interesting remnents of New Zealand mechanical signalling practice. The station is equipped with two-position signals operated by full size levers on a platform frame. Woods keys interlock the signal and points levers. Spring points on a cross-over are locked with sleeper locks. There is a regular passenger service to Wellington and several freight train per day.

This page describes the operation of Masterton in 2004.

When I took the photographs on this site I was supervised by Toll Rail staff and was wearing a high-viz jacket.

1603, 1601, 1605 ready for duty on Monday 16th February 2004.   (Photo Bruce Scott)

Masterton is unique among country stations in 2004, having up to six passenger trains a day in each direction. In addition there are several daily freight trains Monday to Friday.


Two position Home Signals show Stop or Proceed   indications only. The Distant signal electrically repeats the Home signal, showing Caution or Clear. Semaphore Distant signals were still in use in 1959 but by 1971 had been replaced with colour light signals. The semaphore Homes were replaced with colour lights by 1999.

Four Lever Frame - Two levers are in use for the Up and Down Home signals. The two Distant levers are out of use.

Woods Keys provide interlocking between the signal levers and the respective facing points.

Sleeper Locks lock 6 spring points and interlock them with the 3 Up Home signal. They are released with the A Woods key.

Electric Detectors prevent the Home signals being cleared unless the switches are in the correct position.

D-Locks on the signal levers stop the signal being cleared unless the electric detector indicates that the switches are in the correct position.

Locked Cabinet prevents public interference with four-lever signal frame when the station is unmanned. Contrast this with the traditional and complicated switch-out frame.

Facing Point Locks (FPL) are installed on the A5, B11 and B8 mainline points but not on the loop points.

Early 20th Century Technology

At Masterton are unique remnants of early 20th century technology. I consider the station a working museum.

Click on an image for detailed information....

Two-position signals are in use at Masterton. It is one of only two or three locations still equipped with such signals.

Woods keys are in daily use at Masterton. They are a relic of early 20th or even late 19th century signalling.

Sleeper locks are used in a non-standard way at Masterton to interlock the mainline spring points with the signal levers.

Internal Mechanism of a sleeper lock is explained, using an example from the Carterton Railway Restoration Society's collection.

Unattended Station. Lever frames must be locked when staff are off duty. Masterton uses an inexpensive way of locking the frame while the Up Home signal is cleared.

Masterton Signalling History

Browse S & I circulars from 1971 to the present day.

D-Locks stop the signal levers being moved if the points are not set correctly. I do not have any information on the Masterton D-locks.

For future use

For future use


Click on an image for detailed information....

Poor Man's Outer Home To allow shunting outside the Down Home signal a Poor Man's Outer Home has been installed at the north end of Masterton. B Scott Photo.

Cars & Locos Passenger car and locomotive operations in April 2004.

Operating Instructions for 1998 and 2004. B Scott Photo

Cab Pass 1606. A cab ride to Masterton in 2001.

Running loco around & reversing etc??? Cab pass 1604 in 2004 etc???

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Photograph Gallery A selection of photographs taken at Masterton.

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Last Updated: Thu Dec 7 12:35:16 NZDT 2006

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