Vast Coal Traffic.
Coal forms one of the most profitable traffics handled by the Home railways. The four group lines carry approximately 160,000,000 tons of coal every year, and the movement of this business, as well as the supply of empty wagons to the coalfields, calls for special care and attention. A great proportion of the coal moving from the pits is carried in privately-owned wagons. There are approximately 550,000 such wagons in service, the majority being owned by the collieries and the big coal merchants.
The leading coalfields are situated in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, South Wales and the Midlands. Through train loads of coal are worked daily to the principal consuming centres and seaports, while most slow goods trains include
Double-headed electric freight train, Swiss State Railways.
in their make-up numbers of coal wagons. In recent years efforts have been made to get the colliery owners to improve their overhead equipment so as to permit of the utilisation of highcapacity wagons. The Great Western has been a pioneer in this campaign, and in the South Wales coalfield, served exclusively by the Great Western, high-capacity trucks are regularly loaded up at the loading collieries. The railways themselves naturally are among the biggest users of British coal. The four group systems purchase annually 14,000,000 tons of “black diamonds,” the bulk of this tonnage going to feed their 21,000 steam locomotives.