Toton Sidings

How they Worked

A nice description of the operation of Toton marshalling yard is to be found in the Eagle Book of Trains, published in 1953.  The following is a precis:-

 The description begins with the arrival of a pick-up goods train arriving at Toton with a mixture of trucks which need to be dispatched to various parts of the country.

First of all, says the Eagle, a shunter walks the length of the train examining the label on each wagon which shows where its required destination.  He chalks a number on the end of each wagon indicating which siding it should be directed to.

A 'humping engine' - probably a diesel by 1953 - begins to push the pick-up goods towards the crest of the hump.  In the 'hump room' of the control tower the operator looks for the chalked number and presses a correspondingly numbered button on the panel in front of him.  This button electrically triggers the 'King' points where the line divides in two;  it then triggers the 'Queen' points where the two branch into four; and lastly the 'Jack' points where the four multiply themselves into 32 sidings.

In this way the 'road' for the wagon is set so that its reaches its correct siding.  The wagon rolls over the hump where it gathers speed on the 1 in 18 gradient, gradually slowing down as the gradient flattens towards the required siding.  Wagons follow one another over the hump, moving away from each other down hill, with time in between for the electric points to change directing each wagon to its desired siding.

Slowing the wagons down as they enter their allotted siding was accomplished by a 'rail-brake'.  Hitherto, a shunter had been required to run alongside each wagon and apply its brake manually.  By 1953 with the mechanised 'rail-brakes' this was no longer necessary.  Located between the 'Queen' and 'Jack' points, the rail brakes formed part of the track and were over 70ft in length, gripping the wagon wheels on both sides as the trucks pass through.  The degree of braking was controlled from the Control tower, meaning that the operator had to keep a steady eye on each truck to avoid a too heavy collision with other trucks already accumulating in the siding.  With this speeded-up, mechanised process, says the Eagle, the down yard at Toton could handle around 5000 trucks a day.

From a siding full of wagons destined for the same station, or the same part of the country, a 'through' freight train was assembled, running through to another marshalling yard along its route where more sorting of trucks took place.  Finally each wagon or group of wagons would be attached to another 'pick-up goods' which would work the branch line to the wagon's destination, where it would enter the stations goods yard to await unloading.

This page was added by Website Administrator on 30/04/2018.

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