The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)
Among the Books — British Railway Operations
Among the Books
British Railway Operations.
A book bearing the above title and written by T. Bernard Hare (A. M., Inst. T.) has just come to hand from the publishers, the Modern Transport Publishing Company Limited, Strand, London (March, 1927).
This publication has the supreme advantage of having been written from the standpoint of personal and current experience, being, in the words of Sir Ralph L. Wedgwood “so far as I know, the first book published in this country which comes from the hand of a practising railwayman.”
The work is of a handy size, well printed, and on good paper, but has no illustrations, as Mr. Hare desired to bring the selling price within the reach of the average student. This has been accomplished; 150 pages of letterpress and a good index, with cloth cover, costing only 3/6.
Mr. Hare has dealt in an open and thorough manner with many of the principles underlying Railway Operation. He has the judicial capacity for presenting fairly both sides of the case on points regarding which differences of opinion exist, and shows an admirable reluctance to make hard and fast decisions.
On this subject he draws attention to a curious cycle. When railways started, there being no signalling system, the driver was responsible for keeping his train under sufficient control to enable him to stop short of any obstruction he might see on the line. Now, on one of the most congested suburban lines in the United States, this method has been reverted to, the only guide the driver has being the tail lamp of the train in advance. A commission which inquired into the substitution of this by some modern system, such as automatic, reported in favour of continuing the present arrangement!
Thus, signalling, first devised to ensure safety, and then developed to enable a maximum density of trains to be dealt with, has made possible so great a reduction in the headway between trains, that, on one railway at least, the tail light of the preceding train is considered to be as satisfactory and convenient a guide as would be a stationary signal to indicate its position. Doubtless the question of expense has some bearing on this conclusion. As railways in general, however, put safety before economy, signalling is being developed to its highest point.
Mr. Hare draws attention to the need for a scientific arrangement of block sections, pointing out that with unequal sections and with trains running at differing speeds, it is “the time distance of the slowest train on the longest section that settles the capacity of the line.” (How often has this fact been brought home on our own Main Trunk?) He then points out that “if greater train density is required, our aim must be to shorten the length of the ruling section and raise the speed of the slowest trains.”
Reverting to the question of fixed signals, Mr. Hare makes the assertion that “there are hundreds of unnecessary signals in existence in various parts of the country to-day,” and draws attention to the chance of increased efficiency and economy by revision in this direction.
He considers the value of three-position and three-colour aspect signals to be definitely established.
This chapter is interesting, dealing, among other things, with the considerations which go to the lay-out and working of terminals. One suggestion is that the South American arrangement whereby a traverser is used to carry an engine from one line to another-thus limiting the waste of platform to the length of the engine-might well be adopted elsewhere.
In view of the occasional criticism of New Zealand ticket collecting methods, it is pleasing to read that “the ideal way from all points of view, except that of staff cost, is to collect on the train.” In this chapter also, such subjects as Goods stations and Goods shed designs, cranes, goods working, labour organisation, page 25 tranships, etc., are broadly dealt with. Regarding the “minimum load” Mr. Hare remarks: “A proportion of two tons paying weight to six tons non-paying weight certainly does not appear to be unreasonable.”
Regarding tranships, and the general question of the treatment of less-than-wagon-load lots, some very sound principles are laid down-useful guides to whoever, from time to time, undertakes the revision of loading and transhipping arrangements in our own traffic districts. Pointed attention is also drawn to the expense of roadside work in train crew time.
Regarding wagon control, the author believes neither in permitting empty wagons to adjust themselves, nor in control applied to each individual wagon, but in an intermediate method which transfers the responsibility for individual distribution to the station, and the sharing of responsibility for general distribution between intermediate district officials and headquarters. The system recommended appears to approximate to the practice of our New Zealand districts.
The chapters on Marshalling Yards, Rolling Stock, Passenger and Freight-Services, Train and Traffic Control, Statistics of Operation, and Organisation, are all of direct practical value to those engaged in the operating side of railway affairs, and the book might well be used as a general guide to the study of modern operating methods.
Space prevents a more detailed examination at this time, but it is interesting to note that in drawing a distinction between Traffic Control and Train Control (Traffic Control covering terminal considerations such as times of departure, traffic to be conveyed, engine and guards working, etc., while Train Control deals with trains on the running lines and decisions in connection therewith usually in the hands of the signalmen) Mr. Hare makes out a much stronger case for Traffic Control than for Train Control.
Altogether the publication may be described as a most useful work, with a wealth of reliable definitions, well-reasoned conclusions, and dependable, up-to-date information.
A Fair Sample of the Fair Employed on the N. Z. R.
Standing-Misses M. E. Clifford, I. M. Clark, M. H. Smith, M. E. Smythe, E. E. Trout, L. M. Carver, J. A Daniel,
M. E. Pearce, T. Collett, F. Stott, J. Tolley, R. A. Lambie, D Nalder, L. Cload.
Sitting-Misses E. Clay, C. H. Smith, B. R. McQueen (Superintendent), J. Burbridge. A. L. Dodd, E. Upchurch.
Production Methods in Newmarket Workshops
The developmental possibilities of production engineering are being realised at Newmarket.
There, as the idea of scheduling the operations entailed in new construction progressed, it became clear that additions to the ordinary schedule could be made with advantage.
The staff in some Departments of the Shops do not always have the opportunity to become familiar with the names and description of the various details required. In order to facilitate the work, the idea of adding to the schedules sketches of the items named has been adopted. This method of graphic representation has been welcomed, as it removes the possibility of vagueness, making clear, even to the layman, what is required.
The accompanying illustration depicts the blacksmithy schedule of wrought iron details for standard 15ft. stock underframes. The same method has been applied to other schedules in use at Newmarket Workshops.
“Blacksmith” writes as follows:—
“I have noticed in the Magazine that there has been installed in the Petone blacksmith shop a bolt machine. As I have seen these worked in other places I have been employed in, I consider they are a great success.
“Now that you have got them going, and you find the great saving in labour, I would suggest that you send those bolts throughout all the maintenance branches for bridge work. They could be made in stock lengths say, from 1 ft. to 6 ft. in length, varying 6 in. or 1 ft.
Then all the blacksmiths would have to do would be to cut the required length-say 4 ft. 9 in. from a 5 ft. bolt, or 3 ft. 4 in. from a 3 ft. 6 in. or 4 ft. bolt-and then put in and have it screwed ready for the job. This would apply specially to ⅞ in. and 1 in. bolts. Of other sizes there would not be so many, but they could be ordered as requirements permitted.”
[The Department is already making use of the bolt-making machine for saving manual labour much on the lines suggested by “Blacksmith.” Ed., N. Z. R. M.]
Stop and let the train go by,
It hardly takes a minute;
Your car starts off again intact,
And better still-you're in it.