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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 8 (January 15, 1927)

Current Comments — A Novel Railway

page 20

Current Comments
A Novel Railway.

A railway having 20 miles of main track for the exclusive transportation of potatoes is in operation on the 7,000 acre potato farm of W. Dennis and Sons in Lincolnshire, England. The railway (which has a gauge of two feet, and rails of 14lbs. weight per yard) is operated both by horses and by a steam driven tractor—the steam being generated by kerosene. The tractor is started by means of a hand pump. Two tons of potatoes can be carried in each wagon, and 400 wagon loads can be successfully despatched in one day. The potatoes are sent to London, to Peterborough and to various ports for export.

The Travels Of “Railway Jack.”

Lovers of dogs will be delighted with the stories of canine sagacity and fidelity contained in the pages of “The Dog Mind and its Human Characteristics,” by Viva, recently published by Hutchinson. One of the most interesting of the stories is that concerning “Railway Jack,” as he was called, a dog who found (as do so many humans) that travelling in trains is one of the most pleasurable of experiences. “Jack,” a fox-terrier, was a frequent traveller for some years on the trains between Lewes and London. He belonged to the stationmaster at the former place. He seems to have travelled simply for the love of it and he seemed to know all the trains up and down, and at times got out at intermediate stations apparently to enjoy a run and explore. He never missed the last train home at night. Once he took a train at Willesden Junction to Edinburgh. He was fed and looked after for a week by friendly railwaymen while he had his change of air, and afterwards returned home on the Brighton line. “Jack” was never known to get into a wrong train to take him home. Once he was waiting for a train on the platform; when one came up he was lifted into the guard's van, but immediately jumped out. He knew in some extraordinary way that the train would not take him home. He retired to the waiting-room and waited for his own train for Lewes.

The Danger Of Cranes.

Sir Gerald Bellhouse, Chief Inspector of Factories for Britain, states in his annual report for 1925, that cranes cause more fatalities than any other form of mechanism used in industry. The subject is to be investigated by a committee of the Engineering Standards Association.

The “Brown-Turner” Automatic Level Crossing Gate.

Much interest was taken in a large model of the “Brown-Turner” level crossing automatic gate, a demonstration of which was given before a number of leading railway officers recently. The model which, together with working plans, had been submitted to the Railway Suggestions and Inventions Committee, consists of a gate or boom suspended between uprights and balanced by means of cables and balance weights. At a distance from each side of the level crossing the rails were insulated (as for electric signalling) and the approaching miniature train operated a relay. This in turn operated a warning bell and red danger lights, at the same time bringing down a boom or gate which closed the crossing against road traffic. The boom remained down until the train was clear and then automatically returned to its normal position above the crossing.

The device as put forward was excellently designed and evidently much skill and care had been expended on its manufacture. In effect, however, it did not differ from many level crossing safety or warning devices, which have been submitted in the past.

In view of the possible waste of mechanical genius on further inventions of a similar nature, it may be opportune to point out that the operation of descending gates or booms at level crossings in other countries has been considered to constitute a serious danger to road vehicles, owing to the possibility of such vehicles being struck by descending booms or barriers, and also to the risk of road vehicles being trapped on the line between the gates.