Michael L Roach
As developed by the Great Western Railway
The GWR started to experiment with a system of automatic train control in 1906 and devised a system consisting of a ramp between the running rails located at distant signals which lifted a shoe on the locomotive causing a bell to sound in the cab if the distant signal was at caution. The GWR system remained in use until the 1970s when it was superseded by the BR system. Ninety years ago today on 2 September 1931 the Company finally finished installing the ATC system on all its main lines. The equipment had been installed at every distant signal on 2,130 miles of track and 2,500 locomotives at a total cost of £250,000. The GWR Magazine of the time waxed lyrical about the system and the fact that “in the event of a distant signal being passed at caution, it would stop the train automatically before it reaches the next signal.
After writing the above in July 2021 I came across a further news item, probably culled from a GWR press release years later, on exactly the same subject. It appeared in the Railway Observer for November 1939 and reported that the scheme of installing its own system of automatic train control throughout the main line between Paddington and Penzance, Fishguard and Chester was completed by the fitting of the last ramp at Penzance on 9 November 1939. This time the report said that 3,250 engine had been fitted, and 2,114 ramps installed, but the cost was still in the region of £250,000. The GWR claimed that “tests have proved that at 60mph a train can be brought smoothly and automatically to a standstill in 900 yards or 450 yards before reaching a stop signal.”
Exeter St David's
Hope they are of interest, Cheers, Bill