The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 11 (February 1, 1935)
Our London Letter — New Quay-Side Passenger Station at Harwich
The Home railways rank among the world's largest dock-owners. Ports like Southampton, Harwich, Hull and Cardiff, are all railway-owned and operated, and at most of the railway-owned shipping centres increasing business has recently been recorded.
Because of the enormous development of Continental business at the Port of Harwich, the London and North Eastern Railway have just opened a new quay-side passenger station at this point, together with extensive new freight-handling facilities. The new passenger station is 920 feet long, and is equipped with booking offices, money exchange, parcels and inquiry offices, and a spacious refreshment room. For freight handling there is a huge new transit shed, 900 feet long and 63 feet wide, as well as a new quay 6,000 square yards in extent carrying three lines of railway track.
Regular sailings between Harwich and the Continent date back to 1863. At the present time, the L. and N.E. Railway operate to and from Harwich nightly steamship services with Hook of Holland and Antwerp. The Zeeland S.S. Company operates a daily service to and from Flushing, Holland; and there is also a nightly service with Esjberg, Denmark, conducted by the United S.S. Company.
In connection with each passenger sailing, a restaurant and Pullman car train runs between London (Liverpool Street) and Harwich. Awaiting the ships' arrivals at the continental ports are express international trains to all parts of Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, etc. In addition, express freight trainferries operate daily between Harwich and the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, enabling loaded wagons to run direct from English stations to interior continental points without transhipment en route.
Handling 200,000 Passengers Daily.
Liverpool Street Station, London, is one of the most interesting railway stations in the world. In addition to the important continental business which is handled, Liverpool Street deals with an enormous suburban traffic, worked by specially intensive steam train services. In a normal day something like 200,000 passengers are handled. At the time of writing, the winter train service is in operation, and daily train arrivals and departures total 1,237. In summer the number of ordinary booked trains handled jumps to something like 1,270 daily. Add to this anything up to a hundred or so excursions and special trains, and you will have a good idea of the enormous volume of traffic dealt with daily.
As a matter of fact, during the morning peak period, there are 89 trains into and out of Liverpool Street between 7 a.m. and 7.59 a.m.; 105 trains between 8 a.m. and 8.59 a.m., and 102 trains between 9 a.m. and 9.59 a.m. In the evening, there are 108 trains out between 5 p.m. and 5.59 p.m., and 104 trains between 6 p.m. and 6.59 p.m. Between 5 p.m. and 5.59 p.m., fifty-three trains carry an average of 22,918 passengers daily out of the terminus.
Liverpool Street was the original London terminus of the old Eastern Counties Railway, and the station is rich in historical associations. As the years go by, it is not improbable Liverpool Street and its approach tracks will be converted from steam to electric traction. This, however, would be an awkward and costly business, only to be tackled after the most careful consideration.
Electrification on the Continent.
On the Paris-Orleans Railway, the Paris-Orleans-Vierzon section is operated electrically, and is now being extended to Brive. Most of the Paris suburban tracks of the State Railways are electrified. Some 110 million passengers use the State Railway St. Lazare Station in Paris annually, 55,000 passengers leaving the station daily between 6.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m. Of the 6,150 miles included in the Paris, Lyons and Mediterranean Railway, it is intended to convert 1,550 miles to electric traction in the near future. At present, the only electrified route on this system is one of 84 miles, from Culoz to Modane, on the main line to Italy.
In Northern France electrification is temporarily suspended by reason of the fact that the Nord, Est and Alsace-Lorraine Railways are shortly due to be handed back to the State on the termination of their concessions. In nearby Belgium, however, an ambitious scheme is being proceeded with covering the electrification of the throughout main line between Brussels and Antwerp.
The Belgian National Railway's line between the capital and Antwerp is thirty miles in length, and from 10,000 to 12,000 passengers are conveyed in each direction daily. Steam trains occupy thirty-five minutes on the throughout run: with electric traction the journey time will be cut to twenty-seven minutes. On completion of the conversion from 55 to 60 electric trains daily will replace 20 steam trains, enabling the daily number of passengers handled to be increased to 20,000. The overhead system, with direct current at 3,000 volts, is being adopted. At the outset, twelve new air-conditioned, four-car trains are to be introduced in the new services. Each train will consist of two motor coaches and two trailers. The cars will be 72ft 2in long, of all-metal construction, and with three pneumatically-controlled doors on each side.
A feature of continental railway operation is the increasing employment of relatively light railcars in long-distance passenger services. In France the State Railways are introducing twin-coach railcars, equipped with heavy-oil engines, streamlined, and capable of accommodating 90 seated passengers. These cars carry engine fuel for journeys up to 800 miles and they will make the Paris-Marseilles, or similar long-distance through runs, at an average speed of roughly 63 m.p.h.
Between Vienna and Budapest, the Austrian and Hungarian State Railways are proposing to combine to operate fast through railcar services of quite a new type. Oil-engined railcars built by Ganz and Co., of Budapest, are to be employed in this international service, and a feature of the proposed arrangement is that Austrian train-crews will work through from Vienna to Budapest, and Hungarian crews through in the reverse direction. Customs formalities will presumably be conducted, either at the terminal points, or by a special travelling staff en route. An arrangement of this character would speed up working, and would be in line with what is already done in France and Belgium, where French locomotives and locomotive crews regularly work through to Brussels, while Belgian engines and engine-crews work through in the opposite direction.
Brunel's Famous Viaducts.
The recent demolition of the last of the old timber viaducts on the Great Western Railway of England is an affair of interest for railwaymen the world over. It was Isambard Brunel, the first Chief Engineer of the line, who was responsible for these famous structures, although his most striking achievement was the building of the wonderful Saltash Bridge, near Plymouth.
For carrying the Great Western Railway across the deep valleys of Devon and Cornwall, Brunel constructed large numbers of wooden viaducts. Between Plymouth and Falmouth there were actually forty-two such viaducts on a stretch of sixty-five miles of track. By degrees, Brunel's timber viaducts have been replaced by structures of steel and stone, and recently the last of the wooden viaducts was demolished near Truro. Most of the timber viaducts were built of yellow pine, and it is remarkable for how many years this timber remained in sound condition. Nowadays, however, suitable wood is difficult and costly to obtain, hence the change-over to steel and masonry.
Portions of Brunel's old timber viaducts are wisely being preserved by the Great Western Railway as historical exhibits. Railwaymen from every clime have from time to time inspected with intense interest the wooden viaducts of the West Country, and the demolition of the last of these splendid structures comes as a landmark in the history of the “Iron Way.”
Railway Cinema Theatre.
There are many means of attracting the traveller to the rail route. At Home, the latest innovation is the provision by the Southern Railway of a special cinema theatre at the Waterloo Terminus, London, to enable passengers to pleasantly while away an odd half-hour while waiting for their train to depart or for friends' trains to arrive.
The Waterloo cinema was designed by Mr. Alastair MacDonald, son of the Prime Minister, and the projection is a new invention whereby a mirror is used in place of the usual screen. The theatre seats 250, and adjoins the principal departure platform. Films of news interest are shewn largely, interspersed by films dealing with Southern Railway activities on both the passenger and freight sides. For the convenience of passengers, train arrival times and the number of the platform are shewn on the screen at the side, and visitors to the cinema have only to inform the paybox cashier of the train which they require to be so announced, to ensure this being done.