Let’s face it, signals are a nuisance! They never make the trains run faster, only slower; they make people late for meetings; they prevent train crews from getting home on time and they allow signallers to relax and drink coffee in the knowledge that they can only cause delays rather than derailments or crashes.
Well this railway puts all that right! It’s my own creation [who else would be lunatic enough to design a railway without signals?] It’s York on a (fictitious) busy summer Saturday, plenty of trains and plenty of action, but no signals to get in the way and slow things down. There are non-stop north/south services, stopping services to and from Liverpool, Scarborough, Derby and Leeds, and fast and slow freight and parcels services. When the clock starts, you have one minute to collect your thoughts and prepare, then the action begins!
Your job will much more exciting than normal. You’ll need to watch carefully for trains entering and set appropriate routes for them, but take care not to set routes too long in advance as other trains may need to cross them. There are several close shaves, but trains can be routed successfully without incident, providing you are alert and act quickly when necessary. Only unrestricted (red) routes are possible as there are no preferred directions, and sometimes it’s necessary to change points manually without setting routes. You’ll see that there’s a gap between platforms 3 and 4, so that arrivals from Scarborough can stop before the points and thereby avoid interfering with southbound services from the north.
Note that all the action takes place on the York station screen, there are no points outside that screen, the side screens just show trains entering and leaving. Warnings are given for all approach lines, so keep a sharp eye out for them.
Note that trains departing south are able to change from the slow (Leeds) lines to the main (London and Midlands) lines outside the displayed area, but not vice versa, so all traffic to Leeds and points west must leave on the slow lines.
Thanks as ever to the Quail Map Company and also to TrackMaps, publishers of the Track Atlas of Mainland Britain – what would we do without these magnificent publications?