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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

Our London Letter

page 18

Our London Letter

The last twenty years have seen a great change in the general attitude towards railway improvements. Formerly improvements were often forced out of reluctant managements by insistent public demand. Now the best brains in the transport world are thinking out ways to make improvements far in advance of public expectation. But hear our London Correspondent.

Luxury in Travel.

Luxurious rail travel is on the increase throughout the world. In every land comes an insistent demand from the traveller for speedier and more luxurious passenger movement, and here at Home, the four big group railway systems are leaving no stone unturned to meet the present-day requirements of the travelling public.

As might be expected, it is in the highly competitive services between England and Scotland that greatest progress has been accomplished in the provision of luxury accommodation for the traveller. Two railways—the London, Midland and Scottish, and the London and North Eastern—are interested in Anglo-Scottish rail movement, and in addition there are regular services between the two capitals by luxurious saloon road motor vehicles run by outside undertakings. To retain traffic to rail both the London, Midland and Scottish and London and North Eastern lines have recently introduced some especially pleasing types of passenger cars. On the London, Midland and Scottish route these take the form of new lounge carriages of novel design. The lounge cars are equipped with comfortable easy chairs and with tables for the supply of refreshments. A floor of polished teak is covered with a handsome Persian carpet in rich shades of blue and maroon, and blue silk window curtains tone with the floor covering. On the London and North Eastern route to Scotland, out of King's Cross Station, London, there have been put into service on the “Flying Scotsman” train, new first-class dining cars ranking as the most luxurious vehicles of their type in the world. These cars closely resemble in their interior design the most exclusive of hotel restaurants. The fixed seats, common to dining cars, have been replaced by small arm chairs, and the whole design of the interior reproduces the elegant French workmanship of the eighteenth century. The ordinary lamp fittings have been discarded, and in their place artistic helmets mounted above the side windows diffuse a restful light throughout the interior of the vehicles. To travel to Scotland in cars such as these is indeed to revel in luxury, and the enterprise of the London and North Eastern Railway authorities in placing in service such outstandingly comfortable rolling-stock for long-distance travel is to be commended.

Branch Lines not Forgotten.

While long-distance travel is being improved immeasurably in Britain, a great deal of attention also is being devoted to the betterment of branchline working. The operation of branch lines at Home is becoming less and less profitable as the road motor business expands, and in a recent letter to the London “Times,” Sir Ralph Wedgwood, chief general manager of the London and North Eastern Railway, remarked that the continued existence of many branch lines is solely due to their contributory value as feeders of the main traffic routes. During recent months the London and North Eastern Railway has accelerated the timings of no fewer than 800 branch line trains and the possibility of further speeding up is constantly under review. In arranging branch line acclerations, page 19 a great many difficulties arise. The timings must be so arranged as to afford punctual running throughout the week, although on slack days the train service may actually be in excess of the real needs. It is undesirable to make small alterations between one season of the year and another, for these cause annoyance to the travelling public, while margins must be allowed for station duties, the shunting of horse-boxes and cattle vans, and so on. In recent months a great deal has been done by the Home railways to improve branch line working by the introduction of steam and petrol
A Luxurious Interior. New First-class Dining Car on the “Flying Scotsman”.

A Luxurious Interior.
New First-class Dining Car on the “Flying Scotsman”.

rail motor cars, and this feature of branch-line operation is also conspicuous in almost every corner of the world.

Higher Steam Pressure—850 lbs.

In the early days of the steam locomotive, steam pressures of something like 50lb. per sq. in were favoured. By degrees this boiler pressure has been advanced to an average level of from 180 to 220lb. per sq. in., and recently there have been many interesting experiments in the utilisation of exceptionally high pressures in the search for heightened power. The American locomotives “Horatio Allen” and “John J. Jervis” are noteworthy contributions in this field, and in Europe a great deal of experimental work has been performed—especially in Germany. Now Switzerland comes into the limelight, giving us a new type of high-pressure steam locomotive which promises to help materially in the search for a more powerful haulage unit.

The new locomotive has been constructed by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, of Wintherur, and is of the 2-6-2 wheel arrangement, with a boiler pressure of 850lb. It is a tank engine intended for passenger service. The water-tube boiler with smoke box, chimney and blast-pipe, is situated above the six-coupled driving wheels. Placed within a cover in front of the boiler is a three-cylinder, high-speed engine, with torque transmitted by gearing to a jack-shaft and connecting rods. The steam engine is designed for singlestage uniflow expansion in three equal cylinders working in parallel. Supported in four bearings, the crank-shaft is fitted with flexible pinions at either end which mesh with gears keyed to the jack-shaft. Single-seat valves control steam admission, and exhaust is controlled by the pistons themselves, these moving on exhaust ports arranged in the central part of the cylinder liner. Cams, arranged on a shaft with lateral displacement, control cut-off. The driving mechanism is arranged in conventional fashion, with the single exception that the connecting rods are linked to the central page 20 portion of the front coupling rods, thereby reducing the adverse influence of spring motion. The principal dimensions of the locomotive are as follows;-Boiler pressure 850lb., grate area 14.4 sq. ft., heating surface 1,940 sq. ft., water capacity of boiler 594 gallons, diameter of cylinders 8 ½ in., piston stroke 13 3/4 in., diameter of driving wheels 60in., weight in working order 75 tons. In recent trials on the Swiss railways the Wintherur locomotive has shown marked economies in coal and water consumption, and it has proved capable of attaining high speeds with heavy trains on stiff gradients.

Electrification Progress.

Railway electrification is making vast progress these days on the continent of Europe. In France, the Orleans line has now completed the electrification of three main-line sections:-Paris (Quai d'Orsay Station) to Bretigny, a distance of 22 miles; Bretigny to Les Aubrais (Orleans), a distance of 55 miles; and Les Aubrais to Vierzon, a distance of 50 miles. The branch line Bretigny-Dourdain (15 miles) has also been converted to electricity. Section one (Paris to Bretigny) carries a very dense main-line and suburban passenger business. Section two bears a heavy main-line business. Section three carries a moderately heavy trunk traffic.

Electrification On N. Z. R. 500 K. V. A. transformer being placed in the Sub-Station at Addington for the Lyttelton-Christchurch Electrification Scheme.

Electrification On N. Z. R.
500 K. V. A. transformer being placed in the Sub-Station at Addington for the Lyttelton-Christchurch Electrification Scheme.

After considerable experiment the Orleans Railway decided to utilise direct current at 1,500 volts, with overhead transmission. The overhead lines are supplied from rotary sub-stations, placed at varying distances according to the density of traffic, gradients, and so on, and these in turn receive current from the Eguzon power station on the River Creuse, at 90 kilo volts A. C. Suburban passenger services are worked by multiple unit trains, in which old four-wheeled passenger stock has been incorporated. On the main-line, however, electric locomotives are employed for train haulage. The standard type is an eight-wheeled double bogie machine specially designed for medium speeds. Fast types of electric locomotive are being tried out, among which is one of the American 2-C-C-2 type; a Swiss 2-D-2 type; and two locomotives of the Hungarian 2-B-B-2 arrangement. One of the latter machines has the hyperstatic system of transmission and the other is equipped with isostatic rods.

From Paris to Bretigny light signals are employed throughout, alternating current being utilised for this service. An interesting feature of the Orleans electrification plan is the fact that during the summer months, when the natural water power at the Eguzon station is liable to fail, an ingenious arrangement has been devised for obtaining power from the thermal station at Genne-villiers (Paris). Subsequently all units thus obtained during the summer for the operation of the railway are returned to Gennevilliers during the winter at a pressure of 150 kilovolts, which will eventually be raised to 220 kilovolts.

Britain and Italy.

Hand-in-hand with France, Britain and Italy also are forging ahead with railway electrification. In the Homeland, the Southern Railway operates some 733 track miles of electric line, and when the work now in hand is completed early next year this railway will actually possess 875 miles of electrified track. During recent weeks the Southern has opened an important electrified section lying between London Bridge Station and Victoria Station, London; and between London Bridge Station and Epsom Downs, via Norwood Junction and West Croydon. Seventy-nine miles of track are included in this section, and the introduction of electric working has called for the most elaborate signalling alterations, which include the provision at London Bridge of an enormous signal box equipped with no fewer than 312 levers, and ranking as the third largest signal cabin in Britain.

Across the Channel, the Italian railways have converted about 750 miles of track to electricity. Italy's first electric trains ran on the Milan-Monza line, where motor cars with accumulators were employed as far back as 1899. In 1901 there was opened the Milan-Varese route, on the continuous current system with third rail (650 volts). In 1902 the Valtellina line was electrified on the three-phase system, and to-day the greater number of the Italian electric lines are worked on this system.

Many interesting types of electric lomocotive are employed in Italy on the Government Railways. For fast passenger haulage locomotives classed as E. 331 and E. 332 are utilised. These are page 21 equipped with two motors of a total hourly rating of 2,000 kw. The motors have eight poles when the stators are directly fed by the three-phase current, and the same windings when connected for two-phase current producing six poles. A Scott transformer is used to transform three-phase into two-phase current when desired. The locomotives are of the 4–6–4 wheel arrangement, have a total weight of 92 tons, and an adhesive weight of 48 tons.

“Underground” Suggestions.

Shortly after the electrification of the District Railway of London some twenty odd years ago, a member of the staff sent to headquarters the suggestion that a distinctive form of name-plate should be devised for station use. The result was the adoption of the familiar bull's-eye name-plate, now to be seen at every underground station. The employee who put forward this idea was suitably rewarded, and other members of the staff who had ideas were encouraged to submit them to head-quarters. This was the nucleus of the all-embracing suggestions scheme now functioning so successfully on the Underground Railways of London, and in 1917 a special suggestions bureau came into being. From 1917 until the end of 1927 no fewer than 42,000 suggestions were received in the bureau, embracing every conceivable detail of the multifarious branches of the operation of the trains, omnibuses and tramways owned by the undertaking.
A Typical Suburban Depot On The London Underground Railways. Kilburn Park Station, London.

A Typical Suburban Depot On The London Underground Railways.
Kilburn Park Station, London.

Approximately 3,000 ideas were actually adopted, and many others have led to modifications of equipment and practice, being the germ of improvements which were more fully worked out afterwards. A special form is provided for members of the staff to set out their ideas, and an especially praiseworthy feature is the fact that the upper portion of the form, wherein the suggester enters his name and address, is detached in the suggestions bureau prior to the form going forward to the department concerned for consideration of the idea put forward. In this way the anonymity of those putting forward suggestions is preserved during the consideration stage, and there can be no fear on the part of the staff that suggestions are considered on anything but their own merits.

The suggestions scheme of the London Underground Railways has since been copied by many other lines, and in New Zealand, of course, a very successful suggestions scheme has for some time operated. The railwayman with ideas finds in the suggestions plan a convenient means of bringing his genius to the attention of the management, and at the same time must find considerable, and probably even greater satisfaction, in the knowledge that he is rendering rare service to his fellows in bettering the rail transportation machine upon which human welfare and human happiness so largely depend.