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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 10 (February 1, 1930)

Our London Letter

page 19

Our London Letter

The modernising of passenger terminals to meet increasing traffic requirements is a feature of present day railway enterprise in the Homeland. In his current letter our Special London Correspondent gives some interesting particulars of London's principal passenger stations and reviews recent developments in electrification on the Home Railways.

London's Passenger Stations

New and commodious passenger stations recently opened in and around London and other Home centres direct attention to the efforts now being made by the group railways of Britain towards the improvement of their passenger stations, alike in town and country. A wonderfully well-equipped passenger station has just been opened by the Southern Railway at Wimbledon, on the city's south-western outskirts, and at Piccadilly Circus and Underground lines a magnificent new passenger depot was recently opened. Very shortly the removal of Charing Cross Station to the southern bank of the River Thames will give the metropolis another really handsome terminal built on the most commodious lines.

The care now being devoted to the improvement of the Home railway passenger stations is most commendable. Time was when almost any rough and tumble structure of wood, brick or iron was considered sufficient to serve as a railway station. Nowadays, progressive railways recognise the need for providing attractive and commodious station premises in every important centre, and, since the Great War, this movement towards the improvement of British passenger stations has been most marked. London is fortunate in the possession of several handsome passenger stations, befitting the capital of the Empire and the important business handled thereat. The Waterloo terminus of the Southern Railway, opened for traffic after rebuilding some nine years ago, is one of the finest passenger stations in the world. Paddington Station, in the aristocratic west-end, is the handsome headquarters terminal of the Great Western Railway, while in the Euston Station of the London, Midland and Scottish line, we have a truly imposing structure which any railway might be proud to own. Probably the daintiest London terminal, from the architectural viewpoint, is the St. Pancras Station of the L. M. and S., once the London headquarters of the Midland Railway, as it was styled prior to grouping. Built on the site of an old Roman encampment, St. Pancras Station is fronted at one end by the handsome pile of the railway-owned hotel, with its two elegant spires, while at the opposite end of the structure is a pleasing clock tower, reminiscent of that which houses “Big Ben” at Westminster.

Outside London, many provincial centres possess railway stations of real beauty and architectural charm. To demonstrate what a really intelligent architect can accomplish in the way of providing station accommodation worthy of a great and historic city, the York Station of the L. and N. E. Railway stands as a fine example. Here is found a wonderful elliptical roof, covering the long curved platforms, quite unlike anything of its kind elsewhere. Perth General Station, in Scotland, is page 20 another pleasing passenger depot, while in Manchester and Derby the L. M. and S. line has also given to the public passenger stations in keeping with the points they serve.

British Electrification Schemes.

A strong impetus towards passenger station improvement is being given nowadays by the development of electric in place of steam haulage. Many of the station improvements recently carried out, both in Britain and on the Continent, have followed the change-over from steam to electricity. Progress in electrification
And Here'S A Trim Scottish Depot. The Joint Passenger Station at Perth, Scotland (L.M.S. and L.N.E. Railways).

And Here'S A Trim Scottish Depot.
The Joint Passenger Station at Perth, Scotland (L.M.S. and L.N.E. Railways).

works must necessarily be somewhat slow, but in the near future extensive works of this kind are to be put in hand in Britain. The latest big task of this type to be begun is the electrification of the Southern Railway's main-line between Victoria Station, London, and the ever-popular seaside resort of Brighton.

The London-Brighton electrification is estimated to cost something in the neighbourhood of two million pounds sterling. The tracks involved are those between Victoria Station and Brighton Station, with branches from Preston Park (near Brighton) to Worthing, and Redhill to Guildford, via Reigate and Dorking Town. This work will be the first main-line electrification scheme of any magnitude attempted at Home, and it is thought that three years will be spent on the job. Direct current, at 1,500 volts, with third-rail transmission, will be employed, and trains will consist of motor and trailer cars operated on the multiple-unit principle. A very heavy passenger business is handled all the year round between London and Brighton, and it is over this section of track that the world-famed “Southern Belle” Pullman has for many years been breaking records for fast running.

£4 Million a Year for Coal.

In many ways electrification will be a boon to railways. Take the coal problem, for example. Locomotive coal consumption is one of the largest items of railway expenditure, and the arrangements which have to be made for supplying every individual locomotive with its daily load of fuel, call for much labour and expense. It seems a simple matter for a railway to purchase so many tons of coal from one or more collieries, and distribute this fuel amongst the various engine sheds according to their requirements. In practice, a thousand and one problems are involved in the acquisition and distribution of suitable fuels for locomotive use.

page 21

At Home, immense attention is devoted to the subject of locomotive coal supplies, and the coaling arrangements in force are of great interest.

Coal from different pits varies enormously in quality, and not only must the question of its heat-giving properties be studied, but there must also be considered its action on the firebox—i.e., whether, when burnt, it forms a running scar or a loose, white ash of a non-adherent nature. Before purchasing, the Home railways make chemical analyses and perform tests, under actual service conditions, of all likely coal supplies.
A Famous British Flier. “Southern Belle” Pullman Car Express leaving London for Brighton.

A Famous British Flier.
“Southern Belle” Pullman Car Express leaving London for Brighton.

After purchase, the coal supplied to the various depots is examined to ensure that it is up to sample, properly screened and hand-picked free from all foreign material. Coals used by the Home railways are of three grades. The first quality coal is supplied for express passenger work; second-grade coal goes to the engines working local passenger trains and important goods trains, while, for shunting engines, third-grade coal is employed. Every endeavour is made to reduce coal consumption on the Home railways, and to-day the average express passenger train of 450 tons runs something like 40 miles on one ton of coal. When it is realised that a big railway like the London and North Eastern spends no less than four million pounds sterling annually on locomotive coal, it will be appreciated that efforts to cut expenditure under this head to a minimum are fully justified.

Europe's Preference for the All-steel Passenger Carriages.

All-steel passenger carriages continue to hold favour in Europe, and nowadays, as the old wooden stock becomes obsolete, all-steel construction is usually adopted. The subject of the all-steel passenger coach is one of the many topics to be discussed at this year's International Railway Conference, to be held at Madrid, Spain, in May. For submission to this Congress, two French railway officers—Messrs. Lancrenon and Vallencien—have prepared a most readable report on the advantages of the all-steel carriage, as demonstrated in Belgium and France and their respective colonies.

From this report we learn that the leading French and Belgian railways are agreed that all new passenger stock should, as far as possible, be of metal construction. This construction holds many advantages from the point of view of safety, and the replacement of wooden joints by riveted or welded joints gives page 22 the carriage body a rigidity adding greatly to passenger comfort. Metal construction also facilitates the utilisation of interchangeable standardised parts, and enables much costly labour to be dispensed with in the shops. All-steel carriages promise to enjoy a longer life than wooden stock, while the metal carriage does not call for such frequent general overhauling. In order to reduce the tare weight of the steel carriage, the report recommends that the body be made to contribute to the strength of the complete structure by the use of a box girder or lattice girder design. It is stated there is room still for improvement in heat insulation methods, and with further development under this head, the all-metal coach should be well adapted for employment in any climate.

The Railways and Road Services.

Through the acquisition by the Home railways of important road carrying organisations scattered throughout the country, the problem of cut-throat road competition has finally been disposed of. Throughout last year, working agreements were come to between the four group railways and the leading ‘bus companies, the first big fusion being that between the Great Western Railway and the National Omnibus Company. This was followed by agreements between this road undertaking and the other railways. In April the Western Welsh Omnibus Company was established by the Great Western Railway and South Wales
A Summer Holiday Outing In New Zealand. Excursionists on the wharf at Picton, South Island, before the opening of the Regatta on New Year's Day, 1930.

A Summer Holiday Outing In New Zealand.
Excursionists on the wharf at Picton, South Island, before the opening of the Regatta on New Year's Day, 1930.

Commercial Motors, and shortly after the L. and N. E. Railway joined forces with the United Automobile Company. Then followed fusions between the L. M. and S. and L. and N. E. Railways and the Scottish Motor Traction Company, and the purchase of the Crosville Motor Company—operating in Liverpool and North Wales—by the L. M. and S. and G. W. Railways. Some scores of less important road carrying concerns have also been acquired by the Home railways, and eventually it would seem the railways will secure complete control of all highway vehicles plying in public service. Legislation is now being drawn up making compulsory a double licensing of public service vehicles, firstly as being mechanically sound, and secondly as being required for the particular service upon which they are intended to operate, and not as duplicating existing services. New motor services thus will be prevented from entering the field, except upon entirely undeveloped routes, and the former cut-throat and uneconomic competition will definitely cease to exist. Throughout the time the Home railways have been acquiring interests in the principal road carrying concerns, to meet the new conditions, they have been bringing into being much new equipment, such as garages, motor car repair shops, and the like. In several instances, disused stations and waiting-rooms have been converted into motor coach stations, and members of the railway staffs are being selected and trained for the new road services.