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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 12 (March 1, 1935)

Our London Letter — High Speed British Passenger Trains

page 17

Our London Letter
High Speed British Passenger Trains.

Handling New Zealand meat imports by container at Southampton Docks.

Handling New Zealand meat imports by container at Southampton Docks.

Fast passenger train running has always been a feature of British railways operation. While America and one or two Continental countries present striking examples of really fast passenger train, movement, taking all in all, in no other corner of the five continents do railways offer such a remarkable number of fast daily express runs as is the case in Britain. From the point of view of distance, what we at Home term “long” passenger journeys are actually very short trips as compared with the tremendous mileages covered by American trans-continental and European international expresses. Nevertheless, the great trunk services of the four group railways of Britain are recognised the world over as of outstanding interest and merit, and the fame of trains like the “Flying Scotsman,” the “Royal Scot,” the “Cheltenham Flyer,” and the “Brighton Belle” has for long been established wherever railwaymen foregather.

One of the finest shows of fast daily passenger trains is found in the Anglo-Scottish time-table of the London and North Eastern Railway. In and out of the King's Cross terminus in London there are operated a vast number of crack trains, all of them “hotels on wheels,” with the “Flying Scotsman” topping the list.

Pullman train operation is conspicuous at King's Cross. All-Pullman services include the “Queen of Scots” daily train between London, Leeds, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Edinburgh; the “West Riding Pullman” between London and the thriving industrial centres of Yorkshire; and the “Harrow-gate Sunday Pullman” between London and the spa centre of Harrowgate. Two fine night trains are “The Aberdonian,” from London to Aberdeen; and the “Night Scotsman,” operating between King's Cross and Scottish points. These both have luxury sleepers in their make-up, and are rightly among the most popular of Anglo-Scottish connections.

Sleeping-car Appointments.

Because of the ever-growing popularity of night travel, the L. and N.E. Railway have recently introduced new sleeping-cars of an exceedingly comfortable type in their East Coast express services. Instead of one scheme of decoration being employed throughout each car, individual, decorative schemes have been adopted for the different pairs of compartments.

For the first car treated in this way, the colours are especially blended shades of blue, yellow, green and pink. Each berth is panelled out in mahogany to a height of 3ft. 6in. above the floor, with coloured walls up to the ceiling. The blankets in the different compartments are of colours to harmonise with the wall shades. Blue and fawn Wilton carpets are laid over sponge rubber to deaden sound, and all fittings- such as net racks- are chromium plated. Each compartment is furnished with three electric lights and heated by steam radiator, and every single piece of furnishing and equipment strikes a decidedly luxurious note. Third-class sleepers, run in the Anglo-Scottish services, are also being turned out on more luxurious lines. As a result, night bookings are increasing very materially, and in the busy summer season this spreading out of the passenger traffic over the twenty-four hours should prove of the greatest advantage in relieving congestion on the more popular daylight expresses.

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.

Double-headed electric freight train, Swiss State Railways.

page 18 page 19 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.

Equipment at Locomotive Depots.

Locomotive shed improvements have been undertaken on an extensive scale at Home. Recent betterments include, at many sheds, the installation of mechanical aids to coaling, improved methods of ash disposal, and the provision of scientific washing-out plant. At the larger sheds increased attention is being paid to the turntable equipment, and at the L. and N.E. King's Cross locomotive depot there has just been installed the first turntable in Britain to be worked by the brake apparatus of the locomotive itself. At most depots, engines are carefully run on to the table, so that the weight is equally balanced about the central pivot, and the table is then pushed round by hand—an arduous task at any time, and becoming almost impossible with the heavy “Pacific” and “Baltic” locomotives of to-day. This has all been revolutionised at King's Cross.

The new appliance consists of a small vacuum engine with two double-acting oscillating cylinders geared to a tractor fixed to the turntable. When an engine is run on to the table, the driver connects the vacuum pipe of his locomotive to a corresponding pipe on the tractor and applies the vacuum ejector apparatus. This suction through the brake pipe causes the tractor to work and supplies ample power to turn the largest engine. If a locomotive is not in steam, its vacuum ejector will not, of course, supply the necessary suction. To allow for this, a vacuum accumulator is fixed beneath the table and supplies sufficient power to turn a dead engine; in addition, the apparatus can be thrown out of gear, and the turntable worked by hand, if desired.

Expansion of Container Traffic.

Container movement for merchandise of all kinds steadily increases throughout Europe. In Britain, the use of containers is expanding rapidly, and today almost every class of freight may be handled expeditiously and safely by container. In a modified form, the containers generally favoured represent the upper portion of a railway wagon which may be carried with equal facility on rail chassis or road vehicle. The containers vary in length in Britain from approximately seven to fourteen feet, and in general a carrying capacity in the neighbourhood of four tons is most common. The closed types are fitted with end doors, usually comprising a half-drop door at the bottom and a pair of swing doors above. Certain containers also have side doors, while in the open type the stock has drop doors on each side and at one end.

Among the latest types of container to be introduced on the Home lines are numbers of insulated containers for the carriage of meat. The Southern Railway uses large numbers of units of this type in connection with meat imports at Southampton Docks, and much of the meat coming to Britain from New Zealand is conveyed over the group railways in this convenient and expeditious fashion.

Practical Training in First Aid.

First-aid for the injured forms an important part of the training of the railwayman. The first-aid movement, sponsored by the St. John Ambulance Association, has enthusiastic followers throughout Britain, and the railway managements are happy to assist in every way the spread of the movement.

During the present winter season, first-aid classes are being held all over the railway system. The training, supervised by qualified medical men, is absolutely free. The lectures are held in the evening, and last about one hour each. They are followed by practical work, and ultimately by an examination. Successful candidates receive a certificate and a metal coat-badge to indicate that they are qualified to render efficient first-aid. The second year's study leads up to a “voucher” award, and the third up to a medallion, also carrying with it additional free travelling facilities. Fifteen-year ambulance experts, with their gold medals, are quite common, while there are also many railwaymen who proudly display their twenty-year bars, quarter-century medals and thirty-year bars. Contests are held between different ambulance teams of each railway, while there is every year an inter-railway challenge shield to be won by the best all-round ambulance team in Britain. It is not a pleasant feeling to stand by, helpless and undecided, when one's neighbour has met with an accident, and ambulance training is, beyond doubt, one of the finest studies any railwayman can take up.

Interior of the new 232 lever all-electric signal box, King's Cross, London.

Interior of the new 232 lever all-electric signal box, King's Cross, London.