What, you mean manual switches? Actually, bigger industries might have their own local centralization so it is not uncommon for even industrial branch lines to have their own automatic switches. Or, I think, some switches on the industrial branches can be controlled from a nearby "mainline" station, especially would make sense if they rent locos from the network. As you can see at >>7422
, it's a small end station with a small industrial bush (I've been here) yet still has automatic switches. I don't say manual ones are 100% a thing of the past here, even some stations on a mainline can have SOME of their switches manual, but usually
switches used more often than once a week tend to be electric. And again, with the "former" guy it is not a great problem to operate manual switches, whether they have special car for them or not.
So the key difference
here is, apparently, that the formers ARE NOT part of the train crews, hence they don't need a special car for them as they don't travel with the train more than a few kilometers at a time.
And also, again, our trains are shorter, so it is not an ordeal to walk along the length of the train if much needed.
And for the hot axleboxes, before the era of the telemetry units (see pic) being near everywhere, I guess people watching the running gear integrity of a passing train from the station or from the opposite train and reporting should something be wrong were enough. On many stations there are spotlights to light up the running gear in the nighttime. Fun fact, the conductor at the sight of oncoming train must stand up behind the driver, for safety in case of incoming particles, but got me thinking that the better view of the other train's running gear might also be a consideration.