The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
Our London Letter
Interior of sleeping compartment on the “Simplon Orient” Express.
London'S Passenger Stations
London'S main-line passenger termini, set in a ring around the City, have been immensely improved in recent years. Notwithstanding these betterments, however, there are times, notably at the height of the summer holiday season, when it is only with the greatest ingenuity that it is possible to handle the enormous traffic offering. It is, of course, impracticable to enlarge and rebuild all the metropolitan stations, but whenever opportunity offers an endeavour is made to extend the accommodation available, and to remodel the existing facilities to meet changing conditions. At the moment, good progress is being made with the modernisation of the Euston terminus of the L.M. & S. Company, while important electrification works are being carried out in the neighbourhood of the throbbing Liverpool Street terminus of the L. & N.E. line.
The honour of handling more trains than any other London station falls to Waterloo, on the Southern system, with a total of 1,424 passenger trains in and out daily. Liverpool Street, however, actually deals with the heaviest passenger traffic, some 209,000 people passing through each day. A recent official census of passengers and trains arriving at fourteen of the principal London termini on an ordinary weekday shows that 1,294,000 passengers use these gateways daily, and 4,217 trains arrive at their platforms every twenty-four hours. The problem of the morning and evening rush hour remains acute. At Waterloo, 24,300 people arrive in a single hour during the morning, and in the evening 22,800 passengers leave in the same period of time. At Liverpool Street, where the suburban traffic is exceptionally heavy, 32,900 passengers step out on to the platforms between 8.30 and 9.28 a.m., while between six and seven o'clock in the evening some 31,675 people depart.
Model Railway Exhibit.
One of the outstanding attractions of the Railway Pavilion at the Empire Exhibition at Glasgow last year was a model railway over which operated miniatures of our more famous expresses. A few weeks ago the happy thought occurred to bring this alluring show to London, and so for the Christmas and New Year holidays this fine railway exhibit was open to public inspection free of charge at Charing Cross Underground Station. The main exhibit consisted of scale models of the “Cornish Riviera,” “Coronation Scot,” “Coronation,” “Southern Belle” and other renowned trains, threading their way through a picturesque panorama representing attractive types of coastal and inland scenery. The trains were operated from a single control panel, and the display, among other features, showed automatic colour-light signalling. Also included in the exhibition were some of the newest pictorial railway posters and enlarged photographs of railway activities. Rumour has it that this outstanding exhibit is to go for display at the New York World's Fair, where the L.M. & S. Railway will feature a complete “Coronation Scot” train for the edification of our American friends.
Camping Coaches Popular.
Preparations for the summer holiday season are being steadily made by the Home railways. A feature of the holiday programme will be the placing at public disposal of a greatly increased number of camping coaches, this facility introduced in 1933, having grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. Some 385 camping coaches will this summer be available in different holiday districts, the weekly rent of a coach for a party of six varying from £2/10/- to £5/-/-, this including all equipment, bed linen, lights, etc. For the 1938 season, more than 3,800 weekly tenancies were booked in England, 875 in Scotland, and 200 in Northern Ireland, and already the whole of the available stock of camping coaches has been booked up for next August Bank Holiday week. The coaches are placed in particularly picturesque seaside and inland centres, enabling holiday-makers to choose a district where their particular desires or hobbies can be well satisfied. The areas covered include many places where opportunities abound for such pursuits as riding, golfing, fishing, swimming, and mountaineering. Holiday-makers renting the coaches must travel to and from their vacation point by rail, and the scheme has been the means of attracting much valuable business.
The Modern Sleeping Car.
Home railway sleeping cars are the envy of the world. These luxurious coaches are really comfortable bedrooms on wheels, assuring the traveller of a splendid night's rest, and all sorts of little luxuries from a hot and cold shower to a “nice cup of tea” on awakening. Third-class sleepers, introduced a few years ago, have proved an unqualified success, and by thus popularising night travel relief has been obtained on some of the more crowded day expresses. In Italy, an interesting experiment is being conducted by the State Railways, taking the form of the provision of patent hammock berths in certain of the night trains operating between Rome and the northern winter-sports resorts. Each compartment is equipped with four hammocks, providing, with the ordinary seats, sleeping quarters for six passengers. On the mainland of Europe, the majority of the sleeping cars are operated by those two well-known organisations, the International Sleeping Car Company, and the German Mitropa Company. Wherever one journeys in Europe to-day, one has striking evidence of the growing popularity of night travel. This is all to the good, alike from the viewpoint of the railways and the public.
Attracting Business to the Rail.
Unfair road competition, which is hitting the Home railways so hard, has also seriously affected railway revenues in many continental lands. Because of changed conditions, railway managements are reorganising their operating sides, and in Holland and Belgium this move has been most striking. Electrification is one way in which the Dutch authorities are seeking to keep passenger traffic to rails. Another advance is the introduction of diesel railcars in place of the conventional heavy steam trains, while further economies are being secured by the closing down of many roadside stations.page 24