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Signal Engineering

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Maintenance
    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.
  3. 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.


18th Nov 2014

18 November 2014 Just two days after the final commissioning of the new "fringe” signalling at Alton, today saw the first train signalled across the boundary with Network Rail at 07.30 hrs with the clearing of Woking Area Signalling Centre controlled signal WK459 at ...


17th Nov 2014

17 November – Signal Engineering Report Yet another milestone in the history of the Mid Hants was achieved at 14.45 hrs on Sunday 16th November 2014 when the final stage of the "fringe” signalling interface with Network Rail at Alton was commissioned. The new ...

Diesel Convoy Arrives at Alton

5th Sep 2014

At 17.30 on Thursday 4th September, a West Coast Rail Class 57 arrived in platform two at Alton with a convoy of three diesel’s for the MHR Gala the following day. MHR signalmen Wicks and Russell were on hand to liaise with ...

Ropley Phase 2 Signalling Commissioned

5th Jul 2014

Signal Engineering Report - 5 July Further to my news item a couple of weeks ago, I can now confirm that Phase 2 of the Ropley signalling scheme was successfully commissioned on Thursday 3rd July. The signal box was signed off by the Atkins ...

Renewing Alresford Signal Wires - The Blue Riband Run

13th Feb 2014

Wednesday 12 February – Signal Engineering Report When the Mid Hants Railway was born, there were only a couple of operational signals in use at Alresford. Over the years many more signals were installed, mainly at the London end of the station that ...

Ladybirds on the Line

7th Jan 2014

S & T Report - Monday 6 January 2014 A depleted S & T "Monday Gang" dragged themselves out of bed today on yet another wet and windy winters morning looking for moderate exercise to lose some of those pounds gained through over indulgence ...

Branching Out

15th Oct 2013

Signal Engineering Report 14th October Last week, the Signal Engineering "Thursday Team" switched their working day to Friday to assist ‘the guvnor’ with the installation of the new chunky traction bonds at Alton (no, we are not electrifying our line!). ...

Beyond The Fringe

17th Sep 2013

17 September - Signal Engineering Report. Over the August Bank Holiday weekend and the week following, the Network Rail signal boxes at Farnham, Aldershot and Ash Vale were closed with control being transferred to a new panel in the Woking Area Signalling Centre. ...

Tropical Signal Engineering

1st Jul 2013

Monday 1 July 2013 – Signal Engineering Report Why is it that most outside jobs coincide with the coldest days of the year (see previous update entitled Extreme Signal Engineering) whilst those jobs inside happen on one of the warmest days of the year ...

Block Shelf and the Sergeant Major

20th May 2013

Monday 20 May - Signal Engineering Update Two weeks ago saw a major project underway in Ropley Box... the replacement of the Block Shelf with a new, deeper version to be able to accommodate the additional signal repeaters and backlock key releases in ...

Non Electrical Wiring

7th May 2013

Tuesday 7 May - Signal Engineering Department Report Following many months of installing, terminating and testing new wiring for the Phase 2 work at Ropley, last Thursday saw the installation of new wiring of the non-electrical kind by Bob Howes and Tony Buttle.   ...

Alton - Watch This Space!

18th Apr 2013

Thursday 18 April - Signal Engineering Department Report Work still continues at Ropley as part of the phase 2 work and all new multicore cables that run between lineside location cases have now been terminated (at last!) Likewise the cables that run up the ...

The Terminators!

29th Mar 2013

Friday 29 March - S&T Group Report Terminate! Terminate! …that was again the message for the Monday Signal Engineering lads last week. We found ourselves back at Ropley on another cold morning terminating internal wiring in lineside location cases in ...

Extreme Signal Engineering

11th Mar 2013

Monday 11th March 2013 Signal Report Today has been a case of "Extreme Signal Engineering”... when I looked out at 6.45 am this morning, Liss had a dusting of snow and it would have been quite easy to climb back into bed with ...