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Signalbox Grades

British signalling of the past (UK, excepting Northern Ireland)

Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Paul_G » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:17 pm

Hi All

Were boxes graded as regards complexity? and similarly was there a grade of signalman ?

I am trying to implement a sort of career structure in my simulation game. and trying to come up with a series of boxes of increasing complexity.
What was the simplest box ? a straightforward double track block?
From a gaming perspective single line boxes will be more complex with handing over of tokens etc.

Thanks Paul G
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby BHornsey » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:00 pm

Somewhere in my hoard I had a pre-'94 union issue book on how boxes were scored and graded. Can't think where it is now.
Until 1994 it was a fairly straight forward system, based on equipment value and traffic count.
Since 1994, a new system was introduced to assess complexity, equipment, traffic and responsibility.
So it depends on the era you're attempting.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Danny252 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:28 pm

The topic has been discussed in the past, e.g. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5675&p=57613

Several copies of grading schemes were mentioned in that thread, but no full scans/transcriptions of them made it into the thread, so you'll have to wait for a kind owner of one to come along to see the actual scoring system.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:26 am

Danny252 wrote:The topic has been discussed in the past, e.g. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5675&p=57613

Several copies of grading schemes were mentioned in that thread, but no full scans/transcriptions of them made it into the thread, so you'll have to wait for a kind owner of one to come along to see the actual scoring system.

Complexity does not mean a high grade, back a little in history the 100 (87 working) lever Stewarts Lane box was only one grade off the bottom (the old grade B) and Battersea Park Junction 31 (25 working) lever was the old grade D (two grades higher) the difference was purely down to the traffic levels. The very complex 225 lever Victoria Central box was only one grade higher than Battersea Park because the same traffic level applied but with two signalmen (three in the peak).
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Pete2320 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:39 am

Indeed, locally Melton Lane was a higher grade to other boxes along the line because it switched out at night so it's traffic value wasn't diluted by the quieter night shift. On the other hand, Staddlethorpe (aka Gilberdyke) Junction somehow managed to be lower graded than the rest of the boxes on the four track section. This was eventually adjusted on appeal!
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Paul_G » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:47 pm

Its looking like trying to follow the BR grades would very clunky as regards game play.
So I am looking to produce a series of locations with increasing levels of difficulty.
My thoughts on a list of increasing complexity. (simplest first)
Traffic Density is ignored a second level of grade could possibly be added eg A5 would be a simple box but high traffic A1 simple box low traffic

A: Double Track
B: Double Track with Crossing
C: Single Track (token exchange)
D: Single Track with crossing (token)
E: Double Track Junction
F: Double Track- Single Junction (token)
G: Junction With Crossing
H: Terminus

Obviously not all combinations listed and I suppose this is really about gameplay.

Anyone have any thoughts or disagree with complexity listing? Or have I missed anything ?
(single track a quandry, as it would be pretty quiet)

This is for a career mode where you obtaining necessary experience will unlock a higher grade box.

Thanks Paul G
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby kbarber » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:50 am

Terminus could be very simple if traffic is just multiple units, could be just a couple of platforms with 2 crossovers for the throat. At the other end of the scale, if you have multiple platforms, a 4-track main line, multiple engine and empty carriage lines on the approach and a big goods facility just outside, with all trains loco-hauled (therefore an engine to put on every train before it departs and one to put somewhere else after every departure...
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:24 am

kbarber wrote:Terminus could be very simple if traffic is just multiple units, could be just a couple of platforms with 2 crossovers for the throat. At the other end of the scale, if you have multiple platforms, a 4-track main line, multiple engine and empty carriage lines on the approach and a big goods facility just outside, with all trains loco-hauled (therefore an engine to put on every train before it departs and one to put somewhere else after every departure...

Indeed Shepperton was even simpler with a one platform terminus with two sidings (I'm not sure about one of the siding beside Ian Allan's place but the rest of the layout is more or less as was in mechanical days).
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Paul_G » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:52 pm

My thinking was that in a terminus all lines would be Bi-Di,

Again I am thinking that a H1 class could be simple + low traffic and H5 .... armageddon

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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:13 pm

Paul_G wrote:My thinking was that in a terminus all lines would be Bi-Di,


Not necessarily, again taking many terminus as examples Shepperton, Hampton Court, Richmond, Wimbledon, Broad Street, Fenchurch Street (old layout) the only bi-di bits were the short piece of railway from the platform to the crossover which was often just at the platform ramp.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Chris Rideout » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:59 pm

BHornsey wrote:... Since 1994, a new system was introduced to assess complexity, equipment, traffic and responsibility.
So it depends on the era you're attempting.


In the 1920s, there was the "marks" system which worked on lever movements with "bonus" points added if you operated level crossing gates and certain other equipment.

Around 1970 (give or take a year), the equipment value and traffic value was placed on a table in the booklet "Classification of Signal Boxes" from the then NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) to assess the grade. A = lowest and F = highest. You could grade the box without needing to operate it. All you needed was the train register sheets for the traffic value and you could tot up the points for the equipment value. Easy!
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby StevieG » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:25 pm

I can say that the signalmen at one box I worked in until sometime in 1974, were I'm sure, at the top grade, which was then still 'E' AFAIK.
By the time that another PSB newly opened in 1977, the higher grade of 'F' was in being.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:17 pm

If I recall correctly the 'F' grade came into being in 1975 as part of the pay rises that were handed out after the Labour party ousted Ted Heath's government. As I recall a large number of boxes gained a grade (my own going from an 'A' to a 'B' and the box that I went to next went (on the same day) from a 'B' to a 'C'). The grade 'F' was awarded immediately to Clapham A box, Waterloo and Wimbledon A (Wimbledon B and C followed later in the year I believe). Some other big boxes had to fight for the 'F' grade, one such being Euston.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby kbarber » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:24 pm

Fast Line Floyd wrote:If I recall correctly the 'F' grade came into being in 1975 as part of the pay rises that were handed out after the Labour party ousted Ted Heath's government. As I recall a large number of boxes gained a grade (my own going from an 'A' to a 'B' and the box that I went to next went (on the same day) from a 'B' to a 'C'). The grade 'F' was awarded immediately to Clapham A box, Waterloo and Wimbledon A (Wimbledon B and C followed later in the year I believe). Some other big boxes had to fight for the 'F' grade, one such being Euston.

When that other box StevieG refers to opened as a grade F, the management at Liverpool Street next door gave an F to the box there under the discretionary clause that always seems to exist (whether written or not) in agreements. However they left Bethnal Green as an E, although the man at the Green was working his fingers pretty much to the bone. That led to the famous (at the time) 'tea break' industrial action (funny how the signalman's break always came in the middle of the peak). I believe the F was conceded within days.
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Re: Signalbox Grades

Unread postby Chris Rideout » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:46 pm

Fast Line Floyd wrote:If I recall correctly the 'F' grade came into being in 1975 as part of the pay rises that were handed out after the Labour party ousted Ted Heath's government. As I recall a large number of boxes gained a grade (my own going from an 'A' to a 'B' and the box that I went to next went (on the same day) from a 'B' to a 'C'). The grade 'F' was awarded immediately to Clapham A box, Waterloo and Wimbledon A (Wimbledon B and C followed later in the year I believe). Some other big boxes had to fight for the 'F' grade, one such being Euston.

Now I remember more clearly. The signalmen were really fed up with meagre pay rises in 1974 and by that time they were earning just a few more pennies a day more than a porter. They had daily strikes on a Thursday in January/February 1975 and had "Thursday Club" union meetings in hired rooms at nominated pubs. Creating a grade F might have been a way of enticing the top grade signalmen into not striking. I was working the IOW boxes in those days but we had no strikes there. Ryde St John's Road was upgraded to a class B at much the same time. The other boxes were very much lacking in equipment value and remained class A.
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