Staff and Ticket Re-Accreditation

Train crews that have competency to operate trains in Ordinary Staff and Ticket Safe Working Territory are required to be re-accredited every three years. This is the OST specific Revision and Assessment Module for Staff and Ticket Safe Working. Complete the following lesson, revision quiz and Final Assessment.


Railway track is divided into sections upon which only one train is permitted to travel at any one time. This simple premise wasn’t always case however

Over the 160 odd year history of railways, methods of safely operating trains have evolved, generally due to spectacular failures of systems in use. One example is the change from time interval working of trains to methods of distance or section separation.

A number of systems of Safeworking have been developed to ensure the integrity of one train on one section rule, and among them, one of the early systems was the staff and ticket system.

While it is a simple system, it does use tokens to illustrate to a train driver that the section ahead of him is clear. More complex systems include the use of coloured light signals, or in cab authorities that are generated on computer screens.

The advantage offered by staff and ticket working is that it uses relatively inexpensive equipment (as compared to colour light signals) and is very well suited to lightly trafficked lines. The main disadvantage is that is not tolerant to error human error, and is a largely an unsupervised system of working trains. Train controllers have little opportunity to monitor actual on track operations, and therefore relies on information being relayed by working train crews.

Note that the reference standard to this topic makes regular mention of the term Rail Traffic. Throughout the sessions, trains and on track vehicles may also be referred to.

These sessions cover the specific requirements of working trains over the line between Mutchilba and Forsayth

Description of Staff:

Generally, the Staff is constructed of wood with a metal sleeve and is the key which opens the Staff Box to gain access to the ticket.

A Staff Has:

  • the name of the section engraved on
  • metal plates attached to each face of the head, or
  • each face of the metal head
  • a distinguishing colour and shape
  • blue with a round head
  • white with a square head
  • red with a diamond head, or
  • yellow with a “half diamond” head

Note: The colour of the Staff is the same as the Staff Boxes and the Ticket for the section over which they are used.

Description of Staff Box:

The Staff Box is constructed of wood with a metal slot which allows the correct staff to open the box. The Staff Box is the same colour as the Staff and Tickets for the section over which they are used.

Staff boxes are secured in a lock up cabinet in a station building, or in a line side phone box where no station building exists. In both cases, the security is provided by a standard QR points padlock.

Description of Tickets:

Tickets are:

  • numbered consecutively
  • marked UP or DOWN and must be secured in the correct staff box for the up and down direction
  • coloured the same as the staff and box
  • (As mentioned above) forms are numbered differently according to colours and direction

Staff and Ticket Working Form SW 31

Provides Information on:

  • Staff and Ticket Working
  • Particulars of rail traffic crossing
  • Any other instructions or required information (workers on track typically)

Working Under the Staff and Ticket System

When working under the Staff and Ticket System, trains must carry –

  • only one staff or ticket
  • that being the designated staff or ticket for the section, and
  • a Staff and Ticket Working Form (SW 31) when working through unattended stations Note that all stations on our part of the network are unattended – so an SW31 is always carried.

Rail traffic following

When more than one train is to travel in the same direction, trains will travel on Ticket. The last train scheduled to run over the section which will carry the Staff.

Staff and Ticket Sections

A train must be in possession of the staff, or a ticket, when departing a station section and about to travel over the staff and ticket section. Note that a staff is not required in the station yard.

Staffs for Adjoining Sections

Staffs used on adjoining sections must not have the same shaped and coloured heads or the same coloured staff boxes.

Replacement of Lost or Damaged Staff

immediately report the matter to the Network Control Officer, who will arrange for an investigation into the matter.

Damaged Staff

When it is necessary to replace a Staff because of damage, it should be replaced with a Staff of the same shape and colour. The plates from the old staff will be used, unless they too are damaged. In the latter case, they must then be destroyed and new plates fitted.

Lost Staff

When it is necessary to replace a Staff because it has been lost, it must not be replaced with a Staff of the same shape and colour, or the same shape and colour as the Staff in use on an adjacent section.

The network manager will arrange for a replacement staff. Generally, a yellow half diamond is used, as most sections use red, while or blue staves.

If the staff is found after a replacement has been made, the head of the staff must be covered and sent back to the network manager.

Replacing damaged staff head plate

Will be managed by the network manager. They will make sure there is no possibility that two staffs can apply for the one section.

Defective staff box

As a train driver, you will simply report this to the network manager via train control. They will arrange for the box to be replaced or repaired. They must also ensure that the staff will open the repaired or replaced box.

If the staff becomes stuck in the box, the train driver may take the entire staff and box across the section until repairs can be made.

Normal Indication of Signals

The normal indication of signals is shown below:

Note that on the Savannahlander Route, all existing signals have been decommissioned, and are fixed at stop.

These days they are used as Yard Limits.

Mutchilba and Einasleigh have Stop Boards, the working of which is described below . For the purposes of signal indications at stations with decommissioned signals, they are to be treated under the same rules as Stop Boards.

Staff and Ticket Working Procedures

This session is adapted from section ST 2 in the Staff and ticket manual. In some cases the standard is overly specific in relation to some of the written procedures. The lessons taught in this session are simplified but still compliant with the standard and the knowledge you need to safely work in Staff and Ticket territory. The topics depart from the sequence in which they appear in the standard, but all relevant procedures are covered in these lessons.

Issue of SW 31 (Staff and Ticket Working Form)

An SW31 is required when working trains into or through unattended staff and ticket stations. This is all stations on the Mungana and Etheridge lines that we travel through.

The information to be obtained is relayed by train controller by telephone, or radio.

Train crew initiate communication with the train controller to obtain the information required to complete the form

The information includes:

  • Whether a staff or ticket is used for travel
  • Particulars of trains to be passed or crossed
  • Particulars of preceding or following traffic
  • Stations or locations where train crews are to report
  • Any special instructions – usually any track work authorities are recorded here.
  • Strike out any unused underlined words

Once the form is completed, the entire form is read back to the train controller to confirm that the driver understands the instructions, and that the information has been recorded accurately.

During this communication with the controller, the intended departure time is also agreed (On time, late, early etc)

Amending the SW31

There are occasions when you might need to amend an SW31 before you depart a station. This might be in the case where you have had a form pre-filled well in advanced of a departure. In this case you must cancel the copy of the form and write a fresh form.

Once a train has departed the controller will advise you of the need to alter the form at the first opportunity. Usually this is at a reporting location. In this case, the existing form can be amended and the new instructions read back to the controller.

Obtain the staff.

Before drawing the staff, ensure the ticket book is in the staff box. If locked in the staff box, the tickets are secured against use and won’t be accessible until the staff is returned.

The staff is obtained by closing the box, and using what ever means it takes to remove the staff from it, which is usually by rotating the staff anti clockwise.

Writing Tickets.

This is carried out by the qualified officer, or in our case the competent member of train crew.

The tickets are kept locked in the staff box

It is essential that that the staff for the section is sighted before writing out a ticket for section. This is generally accomplished because the staff is required to unlock the box in which the tickets are kept

Ink or a Ball point pen must be used to write out a ticket

You repeat the information on both portions of the ticket, making sure that that the information is accurate.

Sign the ticket (twice)

Detach the train crew portion of the ticket, returning the stub and the book to the staff box, keeping the train crew portion with you in the drivers position as your authority to work over the section.

Staff and Ticket Working

When a train is ready to depart a station and enter a section, the standard calls for the officer in charge to only allow the train to depart if:

  • The line is clear
  • The correct staff or ticket is held by the train crew.

On the Mungana and Etheridge lines, there is no officer in charge in attendance at any of the stations. This role is fulfilled by a train controller, several hundred Kilometres away in Townsville.

In this case the train controller will know whether the line is clear or otherwise….

But he cannot know whether you have the correct staff or ticket for the section. To fulfil this safety procedure, the staff (or ticket) must be shown to the other member of train crew and both members of train crew confirm that it is the correct staff for the section.

Departure time is confirmed when you communicate with the controller, for example when you read back the SW 31, you will agree, or seek approval as to the when the train will depart. Normally this is at scheduled time – note that all train movements are subject to a published time table and the scheduled times are noted therein. There are many reasons why you might need to delay a departure, and sometimes there might be occasion to run ahead of time. But importantly, make sure you and the controller agree to a departure time, or that the controller is made aware of the actual departure time if there has been a delay.

With the correct staff or ticket, the SW31 completed and read back, when the agreed or scheduled time is reached, you are authorised to depart the station.

Following traffic:

Train crew are not to enter the section until told by the network controller that preceding traffic has arrived clear and intact in the station in advance.

Delivering Staff or Ticket at the end of a Section

When rail traffic has arrived in clear and intact at the end of a staff section:

if ticket was used –

  • print ‘FULFILLED’ across face of ticket
  • place ticket on the file provided (spike in the staff cabinet)
  • make sure staff, staff box and staff cabinet is locked up before departure

Report to Train Control

Delivering Incorrect Staff or Ticket

If you arrive at a station and note that you have the wrong staff or ticket, report the matter to the Train controller. The matter will be investigated. Arrangements may also be made to return the staff to the correct location.

Line to be Taken – Working through Stations

Unless otherwise directed on the SW31, trains are to run through stations on the mainline.

Speed of trains approaching Stations

The driver of a train approaching a station must:

  • control the rail traffic to be able to stop –

− clear of any obstruction between the home signal/stop board and the facing points

− at any points if they are incorrectly set

Other train crew:

  • if the driver does not control the rail traffic –

− attempt to alert the Rail Traffic Crew at the controls

− apply the emergency brake or open the emergency cock to stop the rail traffic

  • check the points are correctly set, and
  • reset the points, if necessary

Speed of trains entering stations on the Etheridge and Chillagoe lines is in accordance with the posted speed boards, or 25 kph, which ever is the lower. Section 2.8.3 in the standard lists a range of speeds that are completely irrelevant to our workings. The same procedure applies to departure from stations.

Again 2.8.4 has some irrelevant diagrams.

Trains Running ahead of Schedule, Without Notice, or Late

This topic relates to sections ST 2.9 and 2.10, modified for relevance on the Etheridge Line


All trains run to timetable, that is known as the Master Train Plan. On the master train plan, all sorts of rail activity is scheduled, including the running of scheduled trains, the running of special trains, and maintenance activities. When rail operators or maintainers request to run a service, train planners refer to the MTP and determine slots that do not conflict with other traffic. From the MTP, a daily train plan is produced, which is takes the physical form of a graph (now a computer display) that controllers use to authorise train movements around the network. On occasion a requirement comes up where a short notice train needs to run and is quickly allocated a slot in the daily train plan.

The most likely scenario for short notice / without notice activities on our line is for track workers and maintenance.

You need to be mindful that outside of your little world in the cab of the railmotor, other parties want access to the track you run on, and the controller will base many of his decisions on expectations of traffic being where it is supposed to be at the appointed time.

Trains not to run ahead of Scheduled time

Trains must not depart stations ahead of schedule without permission from the network controller. This goes back to earlier when we discussed the means by which we inform control of our intended departure time.

Authority to run ahead of schedule may be granted by the train controller, and must be recorded on the SW31

Trains running without notice

If a trains runs without notice (usually an emergency working)

  • train crews must proceed at a restricted speed, and
  • sound the whistle where ever visibility is restricted.
  • Be alert for audible track warning devices.

Infrastructure workers will take into account that a train may run without notice, and must take precautions to protect themselves, by protecting their worksites.

Trains Running Late

Train crews on late running trains may make up time by:

  • Maintain maximum allowable speeds between stations consistent with safe train handling
  • Reducing dwell times at stations and line side stopping locations.

Working through Unattended Stations Fitted with Stop boards

The standard contains sections ST 2.11 to 2.12. but were not printed for the our copy of the staff and ticket manual. These missing sections are irrelevant to our working on the Etheridge line

No Cross or pass to take place:

  • Reduce speed at the approach beacon to pass the stop board at restricted speed, no more than 25 kph
  • Maintain restricted speed until way into, and through station is confirmed clear.
  • Standard states that speed may be increased on path is confirmed clear, however all of our stations will require you to stop to change the staff, or write a new ticket.

If a pass or cross of trains is scheduled

  • Reduce speed at approach beacon
  • Stop at stop board
  • Follow procedures described below

Crossing, Passing and Shunting at Unattended Stations fitted with Stop Boards

If you are scheduled to cross another train at a Station it will be recorded on the current SW31.

  • Attempt to Establish Radio communication
  • Agree to procedure and enter station.

Unable to Establish Radio communications:

  • Stop at Stop board
  • Procedure depends on whether or not communications can be established with opposing train. Therefore:

Crossing Procedures

A ‘Cross’ in this context is when two trains approach each other at a station and need need to continue past the other rail traffic

[Refer to 2.14.2 in Standard and note that this is impractical due to wyes being in use in most locations instead of loops]

Unless instructed otherwise by Train control, normal entry is the first train to arrive takes the loop road, or refuge track (ie: leg of an angle) and sets the road for the passage of the second train to arrive.

At stations with a turning angle, unless the procedure has been pre-agreed or promulgated, the departure side of the turning angle should be used

Opposing train already at Location

  • reduce speed of the rail traffic to 25 km/h at the approach beacon
  • stop rail traffic at Stop Board
  • if no signal is received after one minute— contact crew of opposing rail traffic
  • when signalled by opposing rail traffic, proceed into the station
  • if necessary, stop the rail traffic in clear of the clearance point boards
  • check and tell the opposing crew their rail traffic is in clear and intact
  • carry out staff working

Opposing train has not arrived

  • reduce speed of the rail traffic to 25 km/h at the approach beacon
  • stop rail traffic at Stop Board
  • make sure the way into the station is clear (if not, member of train crew to walk into station, then signal train to proceed when safe)
  • proceed into the station
  • stop rail traffic in clear of the clearance point markers
  • make sure rail traffic is intact
  • report to network control officer
  • if required unlock and set the points for opposing rail traffic and signal opposing rail traffic into selected crossing line
  • check and tell the opposing crew that their rail traffic is in clear and intact, if required
  • reset and lock any points
  • carry out staff working

Over length Trains

  • An over length train must wait at the Stop board until the opposing train is intact and clear in the nominated crossing line. Normal crossing procedures will then apply, although the over length train may need to depart the station before the opposing train can leave the crossing line. It is doubtful that an over length train will travel on the Etheridge Line.

Passing Trains

It is difficult to come up with a plausible scenario where a passing movement would take place on the Etheridge or Chiilagoe Lines, however if it were to occur;

  • First train enters the refuge line
  • Set points for the passage of passing traffic
  • Tell control you are inclear and intact [Controller will release the following train onto the section]
  • First train crew signal the passing train into the station (if on site)
  • Passing train crew establish communication with first train crew (if on site) and enter station when signalled.
  • Passing train crew report to control once arrived clear and intact at the station in advance.
  • First train crew carry out staff Safeworking for both Rail Traffic

Shunting at Stations fitted with Stop Boards

  • Shunt only inside the home signals (or stop boards) unless you hold the staff for the section.
  • If other traffic is scheduled, running track for other train is to be clear 10 minutes before arrival time
  • Inform network controller when shunting movements are complete

Crews of trains arriving at a location where shunting is taking place must stop at the stop board and not enter the station until signalled by the other train crew.

Line Clear Procedures (Now Called Alternative Proceed Authority)

When the Staff is at the opposite end of the section from which rail traffic is to depart, and a serious delay to rail traffic is likely to occur, it may be necessary to suspend Staff and Ticket Working and work rail traffic on Alternative Proceed Authority.

The issue of an Alternative Proceed Authority facilitates the running of rail traffic by the use of forms, until normal Staff and Ticket Working is resumed.

Emergency Procedures

Reporting Disabled Rail Traffic

When rail traffic becomes disabled, the crew must make sure the rail traffic is intact and secured against movement and arrange to give details of the obstruction to the Network Control Officer.


When rail traffic becomes disabled and it is necessary for relief rail traffic to enter the obstructed section, the crews of the disabled rail traffic and the relief rail traffic must communicate at regular intervals.

When communications cannot be maintained between the disabled and relief rail traffic, communications may be established through an intermediate source, for example the Network Control Officer.

Securing a Disabled Train

Make sure the train is intact – Check the rollingstock running numbers against the train list

Apply hand brakes and chocks to secure against movement – Identify the location of the train. (Use Km marks)

Protecting the ‘Obstruction’

A failed or derailed train becomes an obstruction for the purposes of emergency working. As such the obstruction must be protected unless a structure such as a tunnel or bridge prevents protection being placed.

Protection will consist of Railway track Signals (detonators) Red flags or reflectorised triangles in daylight, and red lights at night or during reduced visibility.

Provision of protection is common in all safeworking territories.

Clearance of Obstruction

Protection placed

If you are on the disabled train, the controller will tell you from what direction the relief will come from.

If possible, transfer the staff or ticket to the nearest staff station.

Act on instructions from the controller

Relieving train crew proceed on Staff or Ticket Authority to the disabled train. Control will issue an SW50 noting km location and protection details.

Observe normal obstructed section procedures to control train speed, and attempt to establish, maintain communication with the disabled train crew.

Protection not placed

The usual reports are made to the train controller, including that protection is not placed and the reason why.

Secure the Staff or Ticket (explained later) and issue an SW 50 to the train controller to allow the relief train to enter the section. Information on the form must include that the obstruction is not protected.

Train controller will issue an SW 50 to the relief train crew allowing them to enter the section. Normal speed restrictions apply, but while a maximum speed of 15 kph applies 2 km from the

obstruction, the train must be controlled to stop half distance of line of sight ahead.

Relief Train does not have Staff or Ticket

On the failed train, the Staff or Ticket must be secured on the train until removed by the relieving train.

Train crew on the failed train will be issued with a SW11 restraining Authority to allow relief train onto the section. Information must include whether the obstruction is protected, the location, and that Staff or Ticket is at the obstruction and secured.

The relief train is given Authority by the controller to enter the section, using normal obstructed section procedures.

The staff or ticket is removed by the relief train crew, who will use it as authority to clear the section.

Dividing a Train into a station in advance

This is when a locomotive is incapable of hauling a load across a section. In railmotor operations, this would be unusual, but not totally impossible.

If a decision is taken to divide a train, secure the rear portion, and move the leading portion ahead so that protection can be placed. Rear of train signals must remain on the rear portion. The staff or ticket remains on the leading portion of the train

When returning for the rear portion, the staff or ticket for the section is used as the authority to enter the section.

Use of relief train to recover rear portion

The staff or ticket for the section is to be carried on the relief locomotive. If possible, a member of the divided train crew should accompany the relief loco to the location of the divided portion.

Temporary Divided Section

Is when an obstruction exists on a section of track and traffic is likely to be delayed for some time, and it is necessary to work rail traffic on each side of the obstruction.

Once an obstruction is cleared, network control will note the time of the first rail traffic across the section on the SW31.

Revision for this session will be in the form of a desk top exercise arranged by your instructor.