The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 11 (February 1, 1936)
Our London Letter — Britain's Passenger Stations
Britain possesses many fine passenger stations in London and the provinces. Thanks to the enterprise of the Great Western Railway, in rebuilding and enlarging its Temple Meads Station, at Bristol, there has been added another splendid example of a modern city depot.
The new Temple Meads Station, which has taken five years to reconstruct, has fifteen platforms, of which the longest is 1,340 feet, compared with the old station's longest platform of 920 feet. All platforms are connected by a main subway 300 feet long and 30 feet wide, with broad stairways for passengers and electric lifts for luggage. At the main entrance a spacious booking-office with circulating area has been provided, while on the other side of the station a passimeter ticket-office, hairdressing saloon, baths and telegraph office have been installed. On all the main platforms there are refreshment rooms of modern design. In addition to the station reconstruction, extensive track alterations have been made. The running lines for 6 ½ miles in the immediate vicinity have been quadrupled; the bottleneck, which previously existed at each end, removed; and additional running lines provided through the station, enabling three trains to arrive and depart at the same time.
Passenger traffic in the Bristol district is particularly heavy, especially in the summer months. In addition to the local business, and the express services with London and South Wales, an enormous traffic passes through Bristol during the holiday season in connection with passenger movement between the industrial north and midlands and the Devon and Cornwall vacation resorts. Recently, light rail motor-cars have been introduced with success in the Bristol area, and a new streamlined, oil-engined railcar takes the form of a twinengined unit designed for hauling a trailer. The railcar and trailer seat 148 passengers, and speeds of up to 65 m.p.h. are attained.
Both engines of the new unit are mounted outside the frames, one engine driving on to the two axles of one bogie, and the other driving the opposite bogie in the same manner. Viewed in plan, the engine on the left drives the rear bogie, and that on the right the forward bogie. The two engines and their accessory equipment are carried on a sub-frame slung below the main frame. Each engine transmits its drive through a fluid flywheel and a Wilson preselective gearbox, provision being made for five speeds. For the final drive, taken to the outside of the bogie axles through propellor shafts provided with needle roller bearing universal joints, spiral bevel gearing is employed. By an ingenious arrangement of the gearing, reversal in the direction of travel is provided for. The new car is 62 ft. long overall, and 8 ft. wide.
Aluminium in Train Construction.
New Zealand folk will certainly endorse the recent remark of Mr. P. Knutzen, Director-General of the Danish State Railways, to the effect that fast trains to-day make travel as comfortable as sitting in one's armchair at home. A special effort is being made to increase travel comfort in Denmark, and in this connection new, fast Diesel-driven trains have recently been put into traffic. These are light trains, each accommodating 235 passengers. The coaches largely are constructed of aluminium, and the trains have been designed to run at speeds of from 55 to 65 m.p.h.
The employment of aluminium and aluminium alloys in coach construction seems to offer immense possibilities for reducing train weights. While aluminium and aluminium alloy construction involves increased outlay at the start, it is probable this extra cost is more than counterbalanced by subsequent savings in operation. In Britain, the London & North Eastern Company is experimenting with passenger page 45 coaches of aluminium alloy, the sides, ends and doors being all alloy castings, suitably ribbed and strengthened, and riveted to steel framework pillars and cant rails. The roofs are of duralumin sheets, and a saving in weight of something like eight per cent. has been secured. It is worth noting that, even where aluminium alloy is not employed for car construction proper, a considerable saving in dead weight may be effected by the use of interior fittings of this material.
Aluminium alloys are finding favour in Europe in goods wagon and container construction. Container movement progresses steadily throughout the continent, so greatly is the convenience of this method of transport appreciated by the public. A new move now being recorded aims at the simplification of container loading and unloading. In big stations it is a simple matter to handle a container by crane-power, but at smaller stations, where lifting appliances are lacking, the extended use of containers of normal form is hardly possible.
To overcome this difficulty, the French State Railways are experimenting with a specially-designed container having patent moving equipment attached. The container is fixed to a carrier of channel iron, and to this are attached small wheels, permitting of the unit being rolled into any desired position by hand. A tilting road trailer is employed for movement of the container between railway station and sender's or consignee's place of business, and the need for cranes is completely eliminated.
New Passenger Station at Geneva.
Serious interference to railway operation naturally resulted from the action of Italy in making war on Abyssinia. The Italian railways at once were operated as part and parcel of the war machine, and through services with other lands were curtailed. While Italy poured her armed forces into Africa, the Swiss railways were charged with a very different responsibility—that of providing transport for the large numbers of delegates and others associated with the activities of the League of Nations at Geneva.
Geneva is one of the principal centres on the Swiss Federal Railways, coming, of course, under the jurisdiction of the Berne headquarters. It is some 673 miles distant from London, and through trains and through cars connect the city with all the leading European capitals. The newly-constructed Cornavin passenger station at Geneva is an especially handsome structure, and is one of a number of commodious new stations erected by the Swiss railways in recent times.
Altogether, the Swiss Federal Railways operate about 2,000 miles of track. There are 750 passenger stations on the system, and passenger coaches number 3,500. Tunnels are a feature, these numbering 229, with a total length of 100 miles. The principal tunnels are the Simplon (65,000 feet long); the St. Gothard (49,000 feet); and the Ricken (28,200 feet).
Some Famous Mountain Railways.
While New Zealand has been enjoying its glorious summer, winter sports have been in full swing in Europe. The winter sports habit brings good business to the railways, and this is especially true of the mountain railways of Central Europe.
Another outstanding line is the Oberweissbacher mountain railway, near Schwarzburg. This system, although used only for goods traffic, claims to be the steepest railway in the world. It is 4,460 feet long, with an ascent of 1,049 feet. Goods wagons weighing 8 cwts. are placed on rollers, and drawn up this “precipice” by means of cable!
Travel Savings Cards.
We live in an age of scientific salesmanship, and in the railway world salesmanship has its place just as in the case of an ordinary retail business. An interesting sales idea now being developed by the Home railways takes the form of a ticket savings-card scheme. Travel savings cards are issued to the public free of charge on application at the stations. On each card, space is provided for twenty ordinary sixpenny postage stamps, which may be purchased in the ordinary way from any Post Office. The booking-clerk records the name of the holder at the time the card is issued, and the station's name is stamped on the back of the card itself. When fully stamped, each card represents a face value of ten shillings, and is accepted at the usual booking-office, either in full or part payment for whatever ticket the passenger requires, any shortage in the fare being adjusted by cash payment at the same time. By arrangement with the Post Office, the face value of the stamped cards is subsequently credited to the railways.