First off, thanks go to District Dave for his very informative website!
After reading about the coupling and uncoupling procedures that were carried out on the District Line in the "old days", I'm wondering how the crews handled the live rails while crawling between cars. Having done quite a bit of coupling myself on the Gamle Vossebanen steam railway (in Bergen, Norway), I can't say I'd enjoy such company while perfoming the various tasks. Did the crews cover up the rails with insulation of some sort, or perhaps de-energize the rails on the relevant track? Or is it true that mere rubber footwear is enough to avoid becoming a part of the traction current circuit?
From a friend of mine on Oslos Tunnellbane which uses a DLR-like third rail system, I know they never step on the rail even though its insulated all round except underneath, though some fitters like having their lunch sitting on it... Safety hysteria or real risk? Notably, the only third rail "accident" in Oslo last year was caused by a drunk. He had fallen asleep underneath the live rail after service ended, woke up in the middle of the night and raised his head bang into the rail. Result: A thumping headache, but no burns....
Hallo Friend nice to contact some of our mates abroad.. Now to answer your question. When coupling/uncoupling trains there was normally no need to go between the cars at all as all the jumpers/air hoses were at the sides or above the solebar level. This means that one shunter would be on one side of the track and obviously the other man opposite. Usually it was the guard shunter who coupled up the auxiliary jumpers and the motorman shunter would join the busline jumper. They would connect the respective air hoses on their own side too. Mechanicle coupling was near automatic for once having pulled the coupler clutches back it was a case of "push & join" or "pull back and part" The only exception to this was coupling/uncoupling on tube stock lines. Being as the coupling point on the trains was always in the same place, I.E. 4 and 4 or 4 and 3 there were 10 ft gaps in the current rails to prevent shocks. The driver therefore had to stop his train with accuracy then. On later stocks (after 1938) the Peter's "wedgelock" coupler was fitted and that is entirely automatic and only a matter of pushing a button