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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April 1, 1937)

Our London Letter — Fast Train Speed In Britain

page 38

Our London Letter
Fast Train Speed In Britain

Since the days of the historic “Race to Scotland,” fast passenger train running between London and Scottish centres has always been a feature of the train services. Two railways to-day are concerned in these services —the London, Midland & Scottish, and the London & North Eastern, operating respectively over the West and East Coast routes. Last month we recorded the early introduction of a new six-hour timing on the L. & N.E. line between London (King's Cross) and Edinburgh. Now, the L.M. & S. have stepped into the limelight in connection with experiments for speeding-up the London — Glasgow schedules.

With a view to ascertaining the potentialities of standard steam locomotives and carriages in long-distance, high-speed working, the L. M. & S. have been conducting special tests. In one London-Glasgow run, there was established a new world's record for sustained high speed with steam traction. The distance from Euston Station London, to Glasgow Central Station is 401½ miles, and this was covered in 5 hours 53 minutes an average overall speed of 68.2 m.p.h. On the return journey, 5 hours 44 minutes were occupied, an average speed of over 70 m.p.h. The load behind the “Princess Elizabeth” locomotive on the outward trip was 225 tons, and on the return 255 tons. These figures are all the more remarkable when one bears in mind the exceedingly difficult nature of certain stretches of the track, notably the Shap Fell and Beattock climbs (916 ft. and 1,014 ft. above sea level respectively). Ere long we may look for a regular daily timing of six or six-and-a-half hours for the daily run of the “Royal Scot,” or some light-weight counterpart of this famous train, between Euston and Glasgow.

Efficient Restaurant Car Service.

The make-up of crack trains like the “Royal Scot,” the “Flying Scotsman,” the “Cornish Riviera Express,” and so on, invariably includes the very latest design of refreshment car. To realise the part played by train catering in attracting the traveller to rail, let us quote a few facts relating to the dining car section of one typical system—the L. & N.E. Railway. On this line some 224 restaurant and 51 buffet cars are operated. To this number, vehicles are being added this year as follows: Eleven restaurant cars, fifteen buffet cars, and two combined restaurant buffet cars. During 1936, the restaurant and buffet cars controlled by the King's Cross authorities served no fewer than 2,741,000 meals, an average of 10,000 meals per car. In each kitchen—never more than 6 ft. 6 in. wide, and 18 ft. long—in addition to cooking and preparing meals, there are stored 1,147 pieces of china, 350 tablecloths and serviettes, 160 glasses, and 1,081 pieces of cutlery. Both electricity and gas are employed in the kitchen cars of the Home lines. Some of the finest kitchens of the all-electric type are found on the “Flying Scotsman.”

A Dining Car (London-Harwich train), L. and N.E. Railway.

A Dining Car (London-Harwich train), L. and N.E. Railway.

Handling the Mails.

Many new vehicles have in recent times been introduced on the Home group lines for handling postal mails. This is a most important business, demanding the closest co-operation between the railways and the postal authorities. The special mail cars employed in Britain consist of mobile sorting units and stowage cars. In some instances, complete trains of postal vehicles are run. In others, one or more mail cars are attached to the ordinary passenger trains. The normal length of the sorting carriages is 60 ft. Along one side of the car are arranged the sorting tables and racks. On the opposite side there is fixed the apparatus for receiving and delivering mail-bags while travelling at high speed. The heaviest travelling post offices are what are known as the Up and Down Specials on the L. M. & S. The Up Special leaves Aberdeen at 3.25 p.m. daily, and arrives at Euston Station, London, at 3.55 a.m. The Down Special leaves Euston at 8.30 p.m., and arrives Aberdeen 7.52 a.m. These two trains handle, annually, 105,000,000 pieces of mail. In the case of the Down Special, 700 bags of mail are received daily from 230 offices for opening and sorting on page 39
Latest type of travelling Post Office, in London-Aberdeen service.

Latest type of travelling Post Office, in London-Aberdeen service.

the train. Some 650 bags of mail are despatched daily to 350 offices, in addition to through mails. On each trip, 68 letter pouches are transferred from the train to line-side collecting nets, and 52 pouches are picked up.

Britain's First Railway Staff College.

Education is the key to advancement in the railway world, as in most walks in life. A new departure in railway education is the establishment by the L.M. & S. Railway at Derby of Britain's first railway staff college for the training of selected staff in all grades. The college, now in course of construction, will be residential in character, accommodating 50 employees for periods of training varying from a fortnight upwards. The new training is primarily for the inculcation of the best ideas known on railways in this country and throughout the world, and is intended to bring out the quality of leadership to a marked degree. The fundamental idea is that the men shall be trained at a boarding staff college, rather than at what might be termed a day college, so that they can work and play together, a practice which will tend to break down and “departmental” outlook which may exist. The presence in the immediate neighbourhood of the college of the company's locomotive works, car shops, marshalling yards, control offices, etc., will enable students training at the college to become acquainted with actual workings by practical demonstration. In brief, the company state, the essence of the scheme is that the best practices and the best traditions of the older experienced men shall be imparted to the younger members of the staff for their benefit during the remainder of their railway service.

The Famous Severn Tunnel.

Of the many engineering wonders of the Home railways, few exceed in interest the Severn Tunnel, the jubilee of the opening of which has just been celebrated by the Great Western Company. This is the longest subaqueous tunnel in the world. It is 4 miles, 624 yards long, and 2¼ miles of the tunnel actually lie beneath the River Severn estuary, in which neighbourhood the tides are the highest in Europe. The tunnel carries the Great Western main-line between London and South Wales, and also handles a heavy traffic between northern points and the West Country. The work of construction was begun in 1873, and completed in December, 1886. The total cost was nearly two million pounds. At its greatest width, the tunnel measures 26 ft., and its height to roof at centre is 20 ft. In the work of construction there were employed 3,628 men, and approximately 76½ million bricks were put into the structure. The engineers were Sir
L.M.S. “Royal Scot” Express passing over water troughs at Tebay, near Carlisle.

L.M.S. “Royal Scot” Express passing over water troughs at Tebay, near Carlisle.

John Hawkshaw and Charles Richardson, and the contractor Thomas A. Walker. A large and expensive pumping plant is constantly at work keeping the tunnel dry, from ten to thirty million gallons of percolating water being raised daily. The maintenance of the tunnel lining is effected by forcing, from time to time, liquid cement, under pressure, behind the brickwork. Replacing an old steam ferry service, the Severn Tunnel shortened the journey between Bristol and Cardiff by 1½ hours.

The Railway Docks at Southampton.

The Home railways play a very important part as dock-owners, and it is interesting to note that the most important passenger port in Britain is Southampton, where the docks are the property of the Southern Railway. Actually, the leading passenger ports of the country, in order of importance, are Southampton, London, Liverpool and Glasgow. Twelve years ago, Southampton and Liverpool enjoyed approximately equal shares of the passenger business, sharing two-thirds of the whole traffic between them. Now, the number of passengers using Southampton is roughly twice as many as those entering or leaving the country via Liverpool. Passenger traffic to and from the continent is almost entirely passed through railway-owned ports. Dover, Folkestone, Southampton, Newhaven and Wey-mouth, handle about two-thirds of the total movement.

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