The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)
Our London Letter
Our London Letter
In his current Letter, our special London Correspondent gives some interesting particulars of recent publicity activities on the Home railways, and discusses the trend of public opinion in France concerning the question of rail-road coordination.
Making Rail Travel More Attractive.
At a time when railways the world over are finding themselves hard hit by trade depression and the competition of the road carrier, it is fitting that attention should be paid to every possible means of attracting the traveller to the rail route and perfecting each piece of equipment that goes to form the rail transportation machine. There are many ways, and inexpensive ways, too, by which passenger travel may be brightened and rendered more attractive to the public. One of these is by giving to the city and country railway stations a more pleasing appearance through the employment of better lighting arrangements; strict attention to cleanliness in and around station premises; the better exhibition of posters, excursion bills, and other advertising matter; and the adoption of the most courteous and friendly attitude towards patrons and prospective patrons on the part of the station staffs of every grade.
A passenger station is, in many ways, the shop window of a railway undertaking, and it is really surprising how attractive a show may be made in this window by the exercise of a little ingenuity and painstaking endeavour. On the Home railways a great deal is being done towards brightening up passenger stations, and as part of the salesmanship campaign of the four big group railways much care is being devoted to the improvement of station appearances. On the newly electrified London suburban tracks of the Southern Railway especially, very happy results have been attained in station brightening. Quite apart from the improvements achieved through money spent on platform lengthening and widening, and the provision of roomier concourses and the like, the Southern Railway has worked wonders in the London area in brightening its stations by rearranging the lighting systems favoured at the different points, by insisting upon absolute cleanliness everywhere, and by encouraging the staffs to adorn the railway premises with pleasing flower gardens, hanging flower baskets, and similar decorations. Among the stations where this improvement plan is much in evidence are those at Wimbledon, Staines, Windsor, Richmond, and Hampton Court. At most points on the London suburban electrified tracks of the Southern Railway lending themselves to treatment, novel flood lighting is being employed with considerable effect. Outside each station the words “Southern page 20 Railway” and the name of the particular station are prominently exhibited, and by night these signs are brilliantly illuminated to catch the eye of every passer-by.
Largest Suburban Electrification in the World.
Ten years ago an Advisory Committee set up by the Government decided in favour of direct current, at a voltage of 1,500 at the substation busbars, as standard for all Home railway electrifications. A sub-multiple of 750 volts, or a multiple of 3,000 volts, could be approved by the Ministry of Transport in cases where such stock is either at 600 volts—the urban voltage in London—or at 650 volts for suburban work, such as on the Southern line, has been recognised by the recommendation that, while electric motors should be designed to give the best results at the voltage for which they have to work, all motors in future should be capable of working at 750 volts or at 1,500 volts as the case might be. Overhead collection is standardised at Home for 1,500 volts, but third rail collection is permitted in special circumstances, with uninsulated return by the running rails.
Rail-Road Co-ordination in Britain and France.
In France there are in use some 757,700 passenger-carrying road vehicles; 328,500 motor cycles and side-cars; and 330,700 commercial trucks. In the main, road transport services running in direct competition with the French railways are not encouraged by the Government. Support is, however, given by the French Government to motor services acting as feeders to the railways. Through the utilisation of railway-operated road transport, the French railways are hoping to extend their influence into territory as yet untapped, and also to provide on a greater scale convenient store-door services embracing both rail and highway conveyance. Road services are replacing rail services on many French branch lines, while on other branch routes steam and petrol rail-motors are being largely employed. Public opinion in France now insists that taxes or burdens should not be unequally placed upon the several modes of transportation, and Government encouragement of rail-road co-ordination is recognised as an important need.
European Tourist Season.
European railways are now putting in hand their passenger publicity campaigns for the 1931 tourist season, extending from May to October. The first big passenger movement of the year is that of conveying to and from Holland the large numbers of travellers who annually make the pilgrimage to the Netherlands during the spring bulb season. Holland is the biggest bulb-growing country in the world, and during late April and May the whole countryside is one vast mass of bloom, the combinations of colours forming a sight probably unequalled the world over.
Owing to the flat nature of the country, railway operation in Holland is a comparatively simple business. There are in page 22 all about 2,400 miles of railway track in the land, about half of this mileage being Government-owned. Leases of Government lines are held by two private companies, the Holland Iron Railway, and the Company of Exploitation of State Railways, both of which themselves also own important stretches of track. For service on the main lines in the Amsterdam and Rotterdam areas, the State Railways have recently introduced a new “3900” class of fast passenger locomotive, of the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement, and having four cylinders. Weighing 144½ tons, this machine is actually the heaviest engine of this wheel arrangement in the whole of Europe.
During the Dutch bulb season the Home railways secure attractive publicity for their continental services by the display of large bowls of the brightly coloured blooms in the windows of the various city offices and tourist bureaux.
Clever Publicity Devices.
A somewhat more out-of-the-ordinary publicity plan is that recently adopted by the Underground Railways of London in installing at their Charing Cross station a miniature golf course. The hazards at the moment are those normally supplied on miniature golf course sets, but it is shortly intended to introduce hazards in reference to the Underground Railways. The course is situated in the circulating area of the station, and is open to the public free of charge. On the opening day some 370 people made the “round” of the course, and a great deal of excellent publicity is being secured by the Underground Railways in this novel fashion.