The Signal Engineering Department on the Watercress Line comprises approximately 20 volunteers, some working at weekends, others on several midweek days each week. The Signal Engineering Manager is also a volunteer but has worked in the rail industry for many years and this signalling knowledge and experience is put to good use on the Mid Hants. Several other technicians also come from a railway background and the department encourages on the job training for the less experienced members of the department.
The role of the department is threefold:
- Faults and Failures
The majority of equipment faults are reported to the department by signalmen when on duty on days that the railway is operating. Faults can range from filament failures in electrically lit signals, difficulty in operating points or point locks, electric key token machine problems to cable faults. In situations where a fault or failure is critical to the operation of the railway or compromises the safe running of trains, the Signal Engineering Manager or one of his senior staff can be contacted urgently to deal with a problem.
A program of both mechanical and electrical maintenance is on-going throughout the year to check on wear and tear of equipment and to clean, lubricate and adjust mechanical components to ensure faults and failures are kept to a minimum.
- New Works
The signalling on the railway is always in a constant state of change and improvement. With very few exceptions, the installation of new signalling and commissioning of signal boxes since the railway re-opened in 1977 has been undertaken by department volunteers. See the section entitled "New Works” for activity currently in progress or being planned.