The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 1, 1933)
Our London Letter — Luxurious Rolling Stock on the Home Railways
New and luxurious passenger stock is constantly being put into traffic on the Home railways. In these days of keen competition, attractive and comfortable passenger carriages play a big part in retaining business to the rail, and on the four group railways of Britain there is found to-day some of the finest passenger rolling-stock in the whole world.
The London, Midland and Scottish line—the largest of the four British consolidations—has just introduced into the fast Anglo-Scottish services a batch of new composite (first and third-class) passenger carriages of exceptionally interesting design. The carriages are 60 ft. 1 in. long over body, and 8 ft. 11¼ in. wide. Distance between centres of bogies is 43 ft. 6 in., and bogie wheel base 9 ft. The underframe is of rolled steel channels, and the body framing is of teak with steel panelling arranged to give a flush finish. Two first-class and four third-class compartments are reached from a side corridor running the full length of the coach, and entrance to the vehicle is gained by two doors on each side, one door being placed at either end of the car.
Because of the luxurious nature of the interior fittings, each first-class compartment seats four passengers only. Upholstery is in blue and gold moquette, and arm-rests give the seats an arm-chair character. The floor is covered with a hand-woven carpet, and the windows are fitted with curtains and blinds of blue and gold silk. The interior woodwork is of walnut. In the third-class section, six passengers are accommodated in each compartment. Grey velvet upholstery is here employed. A tasteful rubber mat covers the floor, and mahogany is the interior woodwork favoured. The lavatory at the end of the carriage has walls of duck-eggshell blue Rexine, and the floor is laid with terrazzo. Heating, ventilation and lighting, have been given special attention, and all things considered it would be hard to find a more comfortable and attractive passenger carriage than this, excluding, of course, the special Pullman and similar vehicles for the use of which an additional fare has to be paid.
A Cinema Innovation.
Recently, the Southern Railway has commenced the construction of a special station cinema at the Victoria terminal, in London, the designing of which has been entrusted to Mr. Alister MacDonald, the architect son of the Prime Minister. News films chiefly, will be shewn, interspersed with films depicting travel scenes at home and abroad. Passengers waiting for trains will be admitted free of charge, and timely warning of the approaching departure of each train will be flashed on the screen during the programme.
Just what the railwaymen of the nineteenth century would think of innovations of this character is a bit of a problem. Stephenson and Brunel, for example, never dreamt of the railway industry embracing such activities as part of its daily routine. This year, it may be recalled, the Great Western Railway is celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the appointment of Isambard Brunel as its chief engineer.
Brunel practically made the Great Western Railway. He was the pioneer of broad-gauge railways, and among the famous engineering works that stand to his credit are the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Menai Straits, and the even more remarkable Royal Albert Bridge, conveying the Great Western line over the River Tamar, at Saltash, near Plymouth. Another activity of the gifted engineer was the construction of the atmospheric railway which linked Exeter with Newton Abbot, in South Devon. It was the good fortune of the writer to travel over Brunel's Saltash Bridge a short time ago, and to inspect this unique monument to engineering genius, which is to-day in as sound a condition as it was when opened for traffic more than sixty years ago.
“Country Lorry” Services.
In the successful combating of road competition, the Great Western Railway is an acknowledged leader. This line was one of the first to realise how rapidly road transport was destined to expand, and in addition to being the pioneer of railwayowned road motor vehicles, the Great Western has probably advanced more than any other system in the direction of acquiring financial and working interests in the leading road transport undertakings.
Apart from the ordinary town collection and delivery services by road motor, the Great Western operates a most successful “railhead distribution” service, to which previous reference has been made in these pages; and an elaborate interlinked “country lorry” service, under which remote villages are given daily road connection with the railway. “Country lorry” services are now established at 115 centres, while a number of special page 23 collection services for milk have been inaugurated in the West Country, in one case involving the collection of 7,000 gallons per day from 600 scattered farms. In the city collection and delivery services, the Great Western have largely replaced horses by nine horse-power petrol tractors, running on three wheels. These have proved most economical, and exceptionally convenient for movement in congested streets and works premises.
Big Italian Electrification Scheme.
The recent opening of the throughout electrified main-line of the Southern Railway of England, between London and Brighton, is not apparently to be allowed to pass unchallenged. Several of the continental railway systems have big electrification plans in prospect, the most noteworthy of these being in Italy and Sweden.
In Italy proposals have been approved for the conversion from steam to electric operation, of about 2,500 miles of railway track, at a total cost of something like £45,000,000. The scheme is divided into three sections, each section embracing four years’ work. The principal routes concerned are those connecting Italy with Switzerland and Austria, and the north-south main-line between Milan and Reggio, on the Straits of Messina, as well as the Turin-Trieste main-line.
The “Flying Hamburger.”
To the world-famed giants among passenger trains, like the “Flying Scotsman,” the “Royal Scot.” the Wellington-Auckland Limited, the “Twentieth Century Limited,” and the Chicago-Los Angeles “Chief,” there is now to be added another name. This is the “Flying Hamburger” of the German National Railways, operating between Berlin and the port of Hamburg.
The “Flying Hamburger” covers the 178 miles between the German capital and Hamburg in about 140 minutes, a throughout average speed of 75 m.p.h. It is not a conventional heavy passenger train, this remarkable “Flying Hamburger,” but a two-car articulated train, accommodating 102 passengers, and driven by two 410 h.p. Maybach-Diesel engines. The train is the result of lengthy experiments conducted by the German authorities with Diesel-electric units, and in the near future it is likely that many new services of this character will be introduced. In general, Germany is not a land of high passenger train speeds. The main-line services are not particularly speedy, although they are exceptionally punctual. Forty miles an hour is considered quite a good average express speed in Germany, and for all practical purposes this speed appears to meet adequately the needs of German travellers.page 24 page 25