The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)
New world's records for steam-driven trains were created recently, when a special London and North Eastern Railway express, travelling from London (King's Cross) to Newcastle-on-Tyne and back, attained a speed of 108 miles an hour at one point on the return journey, this being the highest speed ever recorded for a steam-driven train. At the same time, a second record was established when the train travelled for more than twelve miles at an average speed of over 100 miles an hour, and covered more than 240 miles at an average speed of over 80 miles an hour.
We have previously referred in these Letters to the experiments which are being conducted by the Home railways in their effort to speed up passenger movement; to the doubts now existing in many official quarters regarding the future of main-line electrification; and to the likelihood of main-line passenger services in the years that lie ahead being operated by self-propelled units, such as the steam locomotive and Diesel engine. Favourably impressed by the working of the Diesel-engined train of the German railways, between Berlin and Hamburg, the London and North Eastern authorities some time ago approached the makers of the May-bach engine used on the “Flying Hamburger,” as this train is styled, and invited them to submit schedules which trains of a similar type could be expected to achieve over the L. & N.E. main-lines. In the case of London and Leeds, the answer was that a Maybach-engined train could perform the journey in 165 minutes, at an average speed of 67.6 miles per hour. For comparative purposes, a light steam train was then tested out over the same route, and this train actually performed the journey in 151 minutes in one direction, and 157 minutes in the other. The result of the London-Leeds trial led the Company to take the view that, under British conditions, better results can at present be obtained from the use of light units drawn by steam locomotives, than by Diesel-engined trains. With the idea of submitting this theory to a further test, the run from London to Newcastle-on-Tyne and back was arranged.
As time goes on, it is probable that several high-speed trains, operating on schedules considerably in advance of any at present existing, will be introduced on the L. & N.E.R. main-lines. First, however, there are important factors to be considered such as coal consumption; the effect of high speeds on the permanent-way; wear and tear of the locomotive; the possibilities of streamlining; and the disturbance involved to existing time-tables by the putting into service of exceptionally fast trains. Then, too, there is the question of the commercial justification for running trains at high speed at half the normal weight and of half the passenger capacity. Supplementary fares will probably be a necessary feature, and consideration must be given to the extent to which accelerated travel will attract additional business.