Visit to Yoker signalling centre

FoWHL committee members Nick Jones and Gordon Webster paid a recent visit to Yoker signalling centre in Glasgow, which nowadays controls all train movements along the electrified North Clyde/Argyle lines between Drumgelloch/Dalmarnock and Helensburgh (via Glasgow Queen Street and Central low level stations).

This includes all West Highland Line workings from the Glasgow area out to Helensburgh Upper, where control passes over to Banavie signalling centre using Radio Electronic Token Block (RETB) equipment. Our visit to Yoker allowed the chance to view the progress of several West Highland trains on the visual display units (VDUs) as they passed between the two areas of jurisdiction, alongside the intensive electric train services.

The signalling centre's proper title is Yoker Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) - one of many new installations built in the 1980s, each of which replaced dozens of individual mechanical signal boxes. It uses a computerised system known as Automatic Route Setting (ARS), which automatically sets signals and points according to a prearranged timetable database. Solid State Interlocking (SSI) means that no conflicting train movements can be made onto the same defined section of track (e.g. a train cannot be signalled into the next section until the one in front has passed it).

Two workstations are manned each by a single operator, one watching over the western section of the North Clyde/Argyle lines and one the east. CCTV monitors are provided for nearby level crossings, which are also controlled by the operators. There are also monitors covering other areas along the railway such as the platforms at Glasgow Queen Street low level station.

On our visit to Yoker, we were able to track the progress of Glasgow-Oban/Mallaig services (see photo top right) as well as the Fort William-North Blyth freight train. All of these must stop at Helensburgh Upper in either direction to allow the transfer of control between the Banavie RETB and Yoker jurisdictions.

Our thanks go to Network Rail for arranging this visit, particularly the staff at Yoker for their help and hospitality on the day.

 A more detailed article can be found in the next issue of our magazine West Highland News Plus. In addition, Nick Jones is contributing photographs and video from our visit to the FARSAP (Film Archive of Signalling and People) project, which is being led by the Friends of the National Railway Museum. The aim of FARSAP is to provide a photographic record of all remaining signal boxes and signalling centres before they are eventually replaced by new Regional Operations Centres.

Photographs are Copyright of Gordon Webster and must not be copied without permission.