The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)
Our London Letter — Huge Locomotive Building Programme
A typical L. M. and S. Caravan Coach.
Streamlined passenger locomotives, capable of unusually high speeds, are a feature of the locomotive-building plans of the Home railways for the current year. In all, the present programme provides for the building of some 512 new steam locomotives mostly in the railways' own shops. The exceptionally speedy six-hour service between London and Edinburgh, on the London and North Eastern Railway—to which reference was made in these Letters two months ago—is to be maintained by giant streamlined “Pacific” engines, constructed in the Doncaster shops. These follow the general lines of the famous “Silver Jubilee” locomotives, introduced last year—three-cylinder simple expansion, with boiler pressure of 250 lb. per square inch. The first completed engine has been named “Golden Eagle,” and the next four locomotives of the same class are being christened respectively “Falcon,” “Merlin,” “King-fisher” and “Kestrel.”
For London, Midland and Scottish express service, there are being constructed five new locomotives of the “Princess Royal” type. It was a locomotive of this class which set up a new world's record some time ago on the London-Glasgow route, covering the 401 1/2 miles between Euston Station, London, and Glasgow in 5 hours 53 minutes, and the return trip in 5 hours 44 minutes. The Great Western authorities still pin their faith to the “Castle” type of fast passenger loco-motive—a type which has earned fame in daily service on the “Cheltenham Flyer,” Britain's fastest daily start-to-stop express. Some 25 new engines of this class are being built in the Swindon shops.
Improving the Permanent Way.
The high-speed services in operation, and contemplated, at Home, make big demands upon permanent way and signalling. The majority of our trunk routes were constructed three-quarters of a century or so ago, when high speeds such as we now know them were unknown. Thus, one big task to be tackled has been the reduction of steep grades and the easing of curves. For main-line use, the four group lines employ 95 lb. British standard bullhead rails in 60 feet lengths, these resting on cast-iron chairs each weighing 46 lbs., with 24 sleepers to each rail length. On sharp curves additional sleepers are provided. On the Great Western, a through bolt is utilised for securing the chairs to the sleepers. On the other three groups, three screws are employed. In recent times, a limited mileage of track has been laid with 100 lb. rails, and steel sleepers also have been introduced here and there. The difficulty with these, however, is that they interfere with track-circuiting. Considering the age of most Home main-lines, and the difficulties to be faced in the way of overhead bridges with tight clearances, congested city tracks, and so on, it is really remarkable how well permanent-way engineers have met the new demands made by high-speed running.
Caravan Coaches Popular.
Collection and Delivery of Parcels.
Parcels traffic proves a most remunerative business on the Home railways. Last year, nearly 89,000,000 small parcels were carried by passenger train service over the four group lines. Special parcels offices are maintained at all railway stations, while in practically every centre of importance there are one or more suitably situated town offices where parcel business is handled. A feature of the parcels service is the elaborate collection and delivery organisation established by the railways. Not only in the big centres, but also in the rural areas, there are daily collection and delivery services for parcels, maintained by motor vehicles of all kinds, varying from light motor-cars to heavy lorries. Collection and delivery is included in the conveyance rates, and within reasonable distance of railhead collection and delivery is virtually a gratuitous service. In the Birmingham area, for example, the free collection and delivery zone actually covers an area of about 45 square miles. There are one or two express companies, as our American friends call them, interested to a certain extent in the handling of parcels traffic. Broadly speaking, however, the express company, and its continental equivalent the “spediteur,” are non-existent in Britain, so efficient has the railway parcels service itself become.
Polish State Railways Electrification.
Railway Postage Stamps.
Railwaymen the world over are rightly famous for their wise indulgence in all kinds of healthy and interesting hobbies. A most fascinating spare-time pursuit attracting many is the collection of foreign postage stamps. Recently a splendid collection of postage stamps featuring railway subjects came to my notice. Mexico was one of the first countries to depict railway scenes on its stamps. As long ago as 1895, Mexico issued a set of stamps depicting various methods of handling mails, and included a train view in the series. Uruguay next gave us a locomotive picture on its stamps, while Honduras produced a complete set of stamps showing a typical steam locomotive of the early type. In 1901, to celebrate the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, U.S.A., there was issued a special stamp depicting an express passenger train. Ecuador and Guatemala have also issued many railway stamps. Some years ago, Belgium produced parcel post stamps bearing a locomotive design. In 1922 Russia introduced a postage stamp carrying a picture of a train emerging from a tunnel. Especially interesting was the special set of four stamps issued in Egypt, to celebrate the holding in Cairo in 1933 of the International Railway Congress. Each of these stamps depicted a steam locomotive working at various times on the Egyptian State Railways.