A Tribute To Mechanical Signalling on African Railways

Welcome to this tribute to mechanical railway signalling in South Africa, and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Mechanical signalling is fast disappearing in South Africa as result of modernisation as well as the general run-down of South African railways that has taken place since the mid 80s.

At the time of writing this (June 2007), there are still a few locations where you can see mechanical signalling in South Africa. Even into the 1990s, there were still long stretches of line where you could see the traditional wayside country station with signal box, and the impressive gantry of three home signals at each of the station, allowing entrance into the main line or the two passing loops. However, the fall-off in traffic and the use of radio signalling saw much of this pass into history during the 1990s. The remaining locations are mostly suburban and peri-urban, where Centralised Traffic Control hasn't been employed yet, but the traffic is too heavy for radio signalling.

This page has pictures of some of these remaining locations as well as other vestiges of the great legacy of mechanical signalling that opened up the country, and was a familiar site to many people going on their holidays, or maybe even starting a new life in another town.

I have had a chance to visit Nairobi a number of times, where extensive semaphore signalling remains as at 2011, hence I have extended the scope of these pages to sub-Saharan Africa.

Western Cape -in and around Cape Town and main line to the north
Garden Route -secondary lines in the Garden Route and Cape Midlands
Eastern Cape -Port Elizabeth, East London and their hinterland
Kwa-Zulu Natal - Shark country
Heartland -Free State and Northern Cape
North Of The Vaal -The Old Transvaal
Zimbabwe- Beyond the Limpopo
Kenya- The Safari country

A list of current locations in Africa that have semaphore signals.

Alphabetical list of all locations featured on this website.
Page by Andrew Gladwin, launched on 10 May 2005. Last updated 27 December 2012 (New page for Thomas River.)
Thanks to Richard Niven, Rollo Dickson, Dylan Knott, Eugene Armer, Greg Hart, Luca Lategan and members of the sar-L mailing list for their contributions.
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The Signal Box is the definitive site on mechanical signalling.
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