The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3 (July 24, 1926)
The Department's New Sleeping Car — Progress and Enterprise
The Department's New Sleeping Car
Progress and Enterprise
The trial trip of the new sleeping car between Wellington and Auckland a week or two ago was a complete success.
The car, it will be remembered, created a great deal of interest when on exhibition at Dunedin, but, at the time, a considerable amount of doubt was expressed as to whether the Department really intended to put the car on the road, and there were many predictions of a dolorous nature as to what would happen should any attempt be really made to run this sleeper as a going concern on the New Zealand Railways.
The car is slightly heavier than the average for passenger vehicles on the New Zealand Railways, its gross weight being 27 tons; but it must be remembered that it is the largest car yet built for the Main Trunk. The car is also somewhat longer than are other cars in service. The trial run was decided upon, in conformity with the usual practice of the Department, for the purpose of making quite sure that everything was in good order before inviting passengers to travel by it.
There are many points that have to be considered before any new unit can be used upon the Railway, and among the chief of these is the question of clearances. In order to give the maximum comfort to passengers it is necessary to take the fullest possible advantage of all the maximum dimensions—length, breadth, and height—and this means, in the case of the car under discussion, that while the size had to be kept within the maximum clearance allowance provided for by regulation, there were certain points which only practical trial would definitely prove. For this purpose the Chief Mechanical Engineer put an extended end, true to profile of his new sleeper, on one of the ordinary 50 foot sleepers and ran this next in front of the new car. Careful clearances, etc., were taken all along the Main Trunk from Wellington to Auckland, the tests proving satisfactory in every respect. It was thus clearly demonstrated that 56 ft. cars can be used in future. This is a great asset, allowing of another two passengers per car more than in a 50 ft. sleeper of the same design.
The trial also proved that the Department knew what it was doing in spite of the very ungenerous rumours to the effect that the new sleeper was too long to negotiate the curves on the Main Trunk.
Among new features in the car is the provision of dise instead of spoke wheels, the disadvantage of the latter being that travelling at high speeds there is a tendency to throw up dust; improved insulation against sound, thus reducing the noise thrown up by the contact between wheels and rails; and greatly improved fittings and arrangement.
The car was designed by Mr. G. S. Lynde, A.M.I.Mech. E., M.I.Loco.E., our Chief Mechanical Engineer. One of the points which he introduced with success was the provision of bogie check springs to take up the pressure of lateral thrust when negotiating curves. The introduction of this new feature has done much towards the production of a smooth-riding vehicle particularly suited to the diversified country encountered on the main trunk journey. The absence of jarring was remarkable to those who were used to travelling in the ordinary cars.
There are nine two-berth cabins, each of which is fitted with an electric fan controlled at the will of the passenger. Each cabin has a double electric roof lamp, and there is a plentiful supply of hat and coat hooks. There are leaded fanlights over the doors, and the windows have spring blinds made of blue figured material which matches the well piled carpet on the floor. On the wall are coloured photographs of typical New Zealand scenes, and a large bevelled mirror. In one corner of each compartment is a washstand of polished metal, with hot and cold water laid on. The water is supplied at a pressure of fourteen pounds to the square inch by means of an electric pump which forces the water up from the containers. These are carried below floor level and help to ballast the car, a feature which doubtless does much to account for the exceptionally smooth running experienced. The hot water is obtained from the steam heating apparatus, with which the whole train is equipped. The lid and surrounds of the basin are of mahogany and when the lid is closed this forms a desk, where the passenger may write if he so desires. The woodwork throughout the car is of polished mahogany. The seats, which are wide and extremely comfort- page 7 able, have between them a padded arm rest which may be pulled down for comfort during the day, and at each end of the seat there is a head rest against which passengers may recline. The upholstery is of moquette. When the berths are made up at night the back of the scat is simply swung up into position and inverted to form the upper berth. The berths are wider than those usually found in railway sleeping cars, and provide a high degree of comfort. The windows are so arranged that a view may be obtained of the scenery on both sides of the line by passengers in the compartment, although on one side is the passage which runs the length of the car. A rubber composition has been laid on the floors throughout for the purpose of deadening noise. The doors of compartments are set at an angle to the passage, and this arrangement provides crossing places for passengers who may be walking in opposite directions from one part of the car to another. Each compartment has a push button for the convenience of passengers desirous of summoning the attendant. Set in at the head of each bunk is a reading lamp with a separate switch.
The car may well be described as a de luxe one, and its smooth riding qualities and palatial fittings make it a most desirable place in which to travel when flitting through the country. Its appearance on the road created a great deal of interest at the stations where the train stopped, and any of the public present who desired (and they all did) to see over the car were permitted to do so. They were little short of ecstatic in their praises.
Five cars are being built of similar type, and it is intended ultimately to place ten of these vehicles on the track. They will form the sleeping accommodation on the Limited expresses between Wellington and Auckland.
A recent visitor was Mr. A. E. Lovell. Stationmaster, Pukekohe. Mr. Lovell is feeling happy because business is increasing at his station and the staff are working ardently on good co-operative lines. He is keenly interested in the new system of staff training, and intends very shortly to commence running classes for the benefit of members of the service located in the great northern potato producing area.
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One of the finest tributes, as indicating the Prime Minister's regret in parting with a valuable Departmental officer, was paid by Mr. Coates in his capacity as Minister of Railways to Mr. H. H. Sterling (ex-member of the Railway Board) in the course of a valedictory speech. Mr. Sterling, it will be remembered, resigned from the Railway service recently to take up the position of manager for the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Co., Ltd. “I am extremely sorry to sever connection with him,” said Mr. Coates. “Whether the separation will be for a long or short period rests mainly with himself.”