In a basic railway situation, the token can be collected personally by the driver at the start of his work on a branch line, and surrendered by him at the end of his work there.
Where the single line section is part of a through route, then it is likely that each passing train would require to surrender and collect a token at each token station. Where the trains stop at every station this is a convenient arrangement, but where some trains run through without requiring to make a call, it was necessary for the signalman to exchange tokens with the fireman (in the case of steam trains) as the train passed at slow speed. In the case of driver-only operated trains, a dead-mans hold over button was provided, so the driver could exchange the token without the emergency brake being applied.
A large staff could be handed over without any special apparatus, but if the system in use employed miniature staffs, tablets or key tokens, these were usually placed in a leather pouch attached to a hoop, and the fireman could put his arm through the hoop held up by the signalman, and vice versa as the locomotive ran past. In UK practice the permitted speed for this was 15 mph (24 km/h) in daylight, but there are stories of drivers anxious to make up lost time when running late, and passing the exchange point at much higher speeds; bruised upper arms were common among signalmen and firemen on such lines.
Fixed token exchange apparatus was used on some railways. Trackside equipment was fitted near each signal box to hold the pouch containing the token and to receive the token pouch that was being given up.