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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 9 (January 1, 1928)

London Letter. — (From our own Correspondent.) — New-Year Plans

page 18

London Letter.
(From our own Correspondent.)
New-Year Plans.

New Year activities of the Home railways include the running of several long-distance, non-stop passenger services unequalled in any other country. Last July, it will be recalled, new non-stop expresses were introduced on the London and North Eastern, and London, Midland and Scottish lines, covering journeys of 268 miles and 236 miles, between King's Cross and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Euston and Carnforth respectively. Both these long-distance runs surpassed the far-famed 226 mile flight of the Great Western train, the “Cornish Riviera Limited,” between Paddington and Plymouth, which had hitherto constituted a world's record. Now the London, Midland and Scottish line has gone even further, with a daily through non-stop run of 299 miles, between Euston Station, London, and the Anglo-Scottish border town of Carlisle.

Longest Non-Stop Run.

It is the “Royal Scot” train which now ranks as the world's longest non-stop flier. This train leaves Euston Station daily at 10 a.m. and arrives at Carlisle at 3.45 p.m., dividing thereafter into two sections, one for Glasgow and the other for Edinburgh—both points being reached at 6.15 p.m. In the reverse direction, Glasgow and Edinburgh are left at 10 a.m., Carlisle at 12.20 p.m., and London reached non-stop from the border at 6.15 p.m.

Accommodation is provided on the “Royal Scot” for 132 first-class and 318 third-class travellers, and the weight behind the locomotive is approximately 400 tons. All seats are numbered, and any number of seats may be reserved in advance. The non-stop run of 299 miles, which is accomplished in a trifle under six hours, has been rendered possible by the introduction of a new series of 4–6–0 three-cylinder engines, which develop a tractive effort of 33,150 lbs. at 85 per cent. boiler pressure.

Between Euston and Carlisle many difficult stretches of track have to be negotiated, notably on the 1 in 70 grades out of London, and on the long climbs of 1 in 75 in the Carlisle neighbourhood. Features which have been embodied in the design of the new locomotives are high boiler pressure, large grate area and firebox volume, standard type superheater, exhaust steam injector and steam tube cleaner. The three simple cylinders are each provided with an independent Walschaert's valve gear, and in the 10 ft. 3 in. firebox there has been incorporated a drop grate operated from the cab by means of a hand lever.

The total weight of the “Royal Scot” locomotive and tender in working order is 127 tons 12 cwt., and the leading dimensions are as follows:—Boiler pressure, 250 lbs. per sq. in.; heating surface, tubes, 1,892 sq. ft.; firebox, 189 sq. ft.; total 2,081 sq. ft.; superheater, 445 sq. ft.; grate area, 31.2 sq. ft.; cylinders, 18 in.; diameter by 26 in. stroke; coupled wheels, 6 ft. 9 in. diameter; water capacity of tender, 3,500 gallons; coal capacity, 5½ tons. Drive from the inside cylinder is on the crank axle of the leading pair of coupled wheels, and from the outside cylinders on the middle pair of coupled wheels.

The “Royal Scot.”

The new “Royal Scot” locomotives of the London, Midland and Scottish line rank alongside the far-famed “Pacifics” of the London and North Eastern, the “Lord Nelson” engines of the Southern, and the “King” class machines of the Great Western Railway. These powerful engines represent the last word in British locomotive design, and in this connection it is interesting to note the remarks of Mr. H. N. Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Eastern Railway, in his recent presidential address to the Institution of Locomotive Engineers.

In Mr. Gresley's opinion, British locomotives have probably reached the maximum power required to handle at the speeds of to-day, without assistance, the heaviest passenger trains that can be accommodated advantageously at platforms; and, in the case of freight trains, the longest that can be handled in loops, lay-by sidings and reception roads. What is now required is not an increase in the power of locomotives, but a reduction in building, maintenance and running costs. While admitting the big future of electrification, especially in countries blessed with an abundant water supply, Mr. Gresley stated that it was his belief that in the near future such improvements would be made in steam and internal combustion engines that they would be able to maintain their position as economical units of transport, even as compared with electric traction, for many services. These improvements would enable locomotives page 19 to remain available for traffic for a longer period, reduce maintenance costs, and greatly improve their thermal efficiency, thus reducing fuel consumption and cost of running.


When railways were in their infancy, George Stephenson and his associates were wont to give expression to their pride in their accomplishments by bestowing upon their primitive locomotives appropriate names. Thus we had the “Rocket,” “Locomotion No. 1,” the “Comet,” the “Stour-bridge Lion,” the “America,” and so on. As railways developed, this happy custom was allowed to lapse, and numerals took the place of the names once favoured. To-day there is a marked return to favour of the practice of engine naming, and locomotive christenings are the order of the day on many of the world's largest railway systems.

Following the lead of the London and North Eastern, and the London, Midland and Scottish Railways, the Metropolitan Railway has now taken up the idea of locomotive naming. With a view to awakening interest in the historic territory served by the line in the London area, and adding to the attractiveness of its engines, the “Metro.” is bestowing upon twenty of its 1,400 h.p. electric locomotives distinctive titles perpetuating the memory of famous names linked with the Company's territory. Among the titles chosen are “Florence Nightingale,” “William Penn,” “Dick Whittington,” “Oliver Cromwell,” “Charles Dickens” and “Benjamin Disraeli.” Locomotive naming is a decidedly wise move, alike from the increased pride which is thereby aroused in the mind of the engine staffs, and from the public interest which is thus created in the railway and its historic and geographical associations.

Metropolitan Railway North-west London seven-coach suburban train hauled by 1,400 L.P. locomotive.

Metropolitan Railway North-west London seven-coach suburban train hauled by 1,400 L.P. locomotive.

Automatic Train Control.

One of the most interesting of annual reports relating to Home railway operation is that on the subject of accidents, prepared by the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways. In his recently issued report for the 1926, the Chief Inspecting Officer, Sir John Pringle—a name to conjure with in railway circles—states that there were 374 persons killed and 23,433 injured on the Home railways in 1926. These figures cover passengers, employees and trespassers, and they represent a decrease of 91 fatal mishaps and 2,960 injuries as compared with the previous year.

Discussing means of accident prevention, the Chief Inspecting Officer remarks that it cannot be stated that the case for the wholesale adoption of automatic train control, regarded from the point of view of the train accident record during 1926, is stronger than it was in 1925. Justification for calling upon railways to incur the expenditure is, therefore, still lacking. The general question of automatic train control was examined by the technical committee appointed by the Home railways. Their investigation revealed that there would be great difficulty in selecting one standard form of automatic train control of the type recommended owing to variation of under-clearances. The matter is to page 20 receive further close consideration, and in the meantime the extended employment of detonator-placing machines on main-lines has been advocated.

Trains at Sea.

Ocean-going trains have now become a familiar feature of railway operation. Successful operation of train-ferry equipment on the continent of Europe is responsible for plans at present under consideration for the opening up of a new train-ferry service between the east coast port of Harwich and the Danish port of Esjberg.

It is suggested that three train-ferries be introduced on this route. Each ferry would make two trips per week across the North Sea, the sea crossing being one of about eighteen hours. On each trip the ferry would convey about 250 passengers or 800 tons of merchandise. The most successful train-ferries at present operated in Europe are those linking Germany with Sweden, across the Baltic, and the Harwich-Zeebrugge ferry between England and Belgium. In the latter service three ferry steamers are employed. These vessels are 360 feet in length and 61½ feet in width; their cargo capacity is 850 tons, and their average speed 12 knots an hour. Two sets of railway lines connect with the rails at the ferry terminals on either side of the water, and on the deck of the ferry steamer four tracks are provided, having a total length of 1,112 ft. For the loading and unloading of the ferry about thirty minutes suffices, and through rail business is regularly passing via the ferry between Britain and the leading interior points on the mainland of Europe.

London Suburban Traffic.

London's traffic problem grows apace. The city is served by steam railways, which make their way into the metropolis by tunnels and bridge-works galore; by electric railways providing speedy, clean and comfortable movement for the season-ticket holder; by underground electric lines of rare efficiency which burrow beneath the clay bed of the capital; by noisy road buses which hoot and toot the whole day long and far into the night; and, on certain local routes, by lumbering electric trams. With a view to rendering improved service and reducing congestion it is suggested that all these travel agencies in the London area should be co-ordinated to form one big transport pool.

The magnitude of the London traffic problem is illustrated by figures recently issued showing the growth of traffic in the past quarter of a century. In 1860 the number of passengers carried every year by public vehicles within a radius of twenty-five miles of Charing Cross—the official centre of the city—was 40 million. By 1900 the number had increased to 280 million. In 1910 the figures stood at 560 million; in 1920 at 2,800 million; and in 1925 at 3,252 million. It is estimated that by 1930 the figure will actually have grown to 4,000 million. The proposed London transport pool, it is suggested, would be supervised by an overriding public authority, and there would be no change in the ownership of existing undertakings, whether privately or publicly owned.

New Short-Haul Methods.

Changed conditions in the world of transport are upsetting many old theories. In short-baul business in particular, a complete change of method is called for to meet present-day conditions; and the subject of branch-line operation is one to which the Home railways are devoting immense attention.

The equipment and method of working branch-lines at Home will be familiar to many New Zealand railwaymen. Under conditions as they exist to-day, the heavy equipment of these routes and their operation by heavy steam passenger trains and lumbering pick-up freight trains, is quite unsuited to public needs, and as the years proceed there will be witnessed vast changes in this branch of Home railway activity. Cheaper and simpler stations and signalling installations will probably be substituted for existing equipment; light and speedy rail motors will replace the costly heavy passenger trains now operated; while pick-up goods trains will give place to mixed trains of a lighter nature than those at present utilised, or to the employment by the railways of road motors. Increased stops will be provided by the construction of cheaply-built halts serving intermediate points at present removed from stopping-places, and train staffs will perform the majority of the duties at present calling for the employment of special station personnel. It is impossible for the railway to give a door-to-door service such as is frequently offered by the road carrier, but much can be done towards offering the railway passenger better conditions than those which are at present solely provided by the road vehicle.

Improved Viaducts.

In recent years there has been registered a steady replacement of the old timber bridges and viaducts that at one time abounded on the Home railways, by modern structures of steel and ferro-concrete. Only rarely is timber now employed for railway bridgework in Britain, and page 21 with the recent replacement of the old timber viaduct at North Seaton, Northumberland, on the L. & N.E. system, by a new steel structure, there has disappeared one of the most interesting of ancient landmarks. Timber viaducts were especially common in the north of England at one time. The old timber structure at North Seaton carried the historic Blyth and Tyne railway over the River Wansbeck, and dated from 1859. Its length was 357 yards, and the height from river bed to rail level was 86 feet.

The new North Seaton viaduct is composed of plate girders supported by trestles built up from rolled sections resting upon concrete foundations on the shore, and concrete foundations on ferroconcrete piles in the river. The total length between abutments is 1,042 feet, made up of eleven spans. Work was begun on the site in 1925, and the contract has involved the provision of 6,500 cubic yards of earthwork in cuttings and embankments; 5,900 cubic yards of excavation in foundations; 9,750 cubic feet of reinforced concrete piles; 6,000 cubic feet of masonry, and 1,650 tons of steelwork. The approximate cost of the work is £90,000.

An Operating Problem.

Railwaymen the world over dearly love an operating problem. Here is a little poser which aroused no small discussion in a certain Home railway mess-room the other day:—A. and B. a[gap — reason: illegible] two railway stations, a seven hours' journey apart, and with a double track (i.e., an Up and a Down line), between. At every hour a train leaves A for B, and another leaves B for A. All the trains travel at the same speed. Supposing you were in one of these trains going from A to B, how many trains would you pass en route?

Simple though this problem really is, quite a number of experienced railwaymen have proved incapable of offering a correct solution. How many readers of the “New Zealand Railways Magazine,” one wonders, can supply the answer. Next month, by courtesy of the Editor, the solution will appear in these pages.

Liverpool Street Station of the L. & N.E. Railway, the largest steam-operated passenger terminal in London. More than one thousand steam trains are here operated daily.

Liverpool Street Station of the L. & N.E. Railway, the largest steam-operated passenger terminal in London. More than one thousand steam trains are here operated daily.

The Sport of Kings.

From “The Auckland Star” of 14th October: “As the result of the trip, the southern trainers who patronised the Auckland Spring Meeting have all expressed appreciation of the special horse train which was put on from Ellerslie on Tuesday afternoon. It made a fast run, and enabled trainers to reach home with a minimum of delay. There is no doubt that the Railway Department is making a creditable effort to meet the convenience of owners and trainers.