The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
1928 General Conference of Australian and New Zealand Railway Officers — Some Impressions Obtained by New Zealand's Representative
1928 General Conference of Australian and New Zealand Railway Officers
Some Impressions Obtained by New Zealand's Representative
The institution some years ago of a general conference of officers representative of the railway systems in Australia and New Zealand has been attended with much benefit to the States concerned.
In view of the isolation of the New Zealand lines from those of other countries, these conferences should prove valuable to this Dominion, and all the members who have attended the conferences have gained most useful information.
Mr. G. S. Lynde, O.B.E., A.M.I.Mech.E., M.I.Loco.E., Chief Mechanical Engineer, who was selected to be chairman of the conference this year, was the only representative from New Zealand who attended, and on being interviewed on behalf of this Magazine gave some interesting details of his visit.
Modern Locomotive Equipment.
“I was able,” said Mr. Lynde, “during my brief stay in Australia, to visit the railway workshops of the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian States, and was much impressed with the progress made in introducing the most modern methods and appliances for the manufacture and repair of locomotives and rolling stock. Their design of locomotives has reached a high stage of development, the new “Pacific” and “Mountain” types of locomotives include many new features that tend towards efficiency in operation and economy in running.
Walsh Island Dockyard.
“I was particularly interested in the electric development of Sydney's suburban area lines, and in this connection visited the Walsh Island dockyard and engineering works of the Commonwealth Government. By the courtesy of Mr. Waters, the General Manager, I was shown over these works, which to-day employ about 2000 men, and have been equipped to cope with any engineering requirements of the Commonwealth. Among the work which they are at present engaged on are contracts for supplying electric rail steel motor cars for Sydney's new underground railway, the contracts including 100 cars (of which 50 have been delivered) and 200 trailers (of which 45 have been delivered).
“The dockyard is on the Hunter River, about two miles from Newcastle and immediately opposite the Broken Hill Proprietary Company's steel works, this site being selected on account of its close proximity to the coalfields of New South Wales, where cheap power and an immediate supply of materials and labour was available. The extent of the works may be gauged by the fact that they cover 145 acres, while a further 105 acres are available for extensions.
“The three-section floating dock now being constructed there has a length of 630ft., a width of 113ft., 82ft. between fenders, and is capable of docking a 10,000-ton cruiser in a damaged condition, i.e., with 15,000 tons displacement, and can accommodate the largest vessel trading to Australia.
Other places visited were the Westinghouse Brake factory, at Concord, and also Messrs, page 7 Lewis Berger's paint factory, which, supplies our Department with paint. This factory is quite a show place, and the greatest care is taken in producing the finished article, which is seen daily on our ears—Midland Red.
Sydney's New Harbour Bridge.
“Through the courtesy of Dr. Bradfield, the designer, and Mr. Ennis, the chief engineer of Messrs. Dorman Long, the contractors, I was afforded the opportunity of viewing what I consider is one of the most impressive features of Sydney,” continued Mr. Lynde, “namely, the new harbour bridge, which is to be the largest bridge undertaking in the world. This will provide a broad highway for railway, vehicular, and pedestrian traffic between the city proper and the northern suburbs. The great expansion which Sydney has witnessed in recent years made the provision of either a high level bridge or a subway necessary. Public opinion was greatly in favour of the high bridge idea, the high rocky foreshores on either side of the harbour facilitating this method. The clearance was fixed at 170ft. at highwater, which will enable the masts of the largest steamers trading, or likely to trade to Australia, to pass under the bridge without any obstruction from it. This headway is 35ft. greater than that provided under the Brooklyn Bridge and other viaducts across the East River, New York, and is 20ft. greater than that provided at the Forth Bridge of Scotland and the Quebec Bridge of Canada. It is estimated that when working at its maximum capacity 168 electric trains, 6000 vehicles and 40,000 pedestrians will be able to cross the bridge in an hour. The bridge provides for four lines of electric railway, roadway accommodation for six lines of vehicular traffic, and two footways each 10ft. wide. There is no provision for tramway services across the bridge. Each line of railway is designed to carry two electric locomotives weighing 160 tons each, followed by a train 1000ft. long weighing one tonper foot; four adjacent axles of the locomotives each having a load of 25 tons. The type of bridge is that of the two-hinged arch, this being the most rigid type which could be constructed. The bridge now under construction will have five steel spans at either side of the harbour, and will cost over £4,000,000. The approaches are of concrete, partly arched viaduct, and partly earthen embankment between concrete retaining walls.
The photographs included with this article give some idea of the rapid progress being made in the construction of this great viaduct which will serve to carry the railway lines emerging from the underground railway that now make Sydney's passenger traffic so much simpler than it was when surface travel was the only means available for traversing the city.”
Mr. Lynde was indebted to the railway administrations in the States visited for the splendid opportunities given him of inspecting transport development in Australia.
“I cannot say too much,” said Mr. Lynde, “in regard to the wonderful courtesy shown by the Railway Commissioners, Chief Mechanical Engineers, and other administrators towards me, as New Zealand's representative, during my recent visit.
Splendid Coalmining Organisation.
“While in Newcastle I enjoyed the privilege of inspecting the Richmond Main and Pelaw Main collieries, owned by Mr. John Brown. I have been down many pits at Home but have never seen so perfect an organisation as these. I went below at Richmond Main some 800 feet, where one finds the latest coal cutting machinery, well-lighted tunnels and good ventilation, whilst the screening arrangements on the surface are page 8 excellent. It is interesting to note that this mine holds the world's record for output of any single shaft mine. The maximum output, 3000 tons of coal per day, is a wonderful testimonial to the efficiency of the organisation employed. In connection with these mines are many miles of broad gauge private railway, and I was most surprised to find amongst the locomotives owned by Mr. Brown thirteen of the large 2-8-0 consolidation type of locomotive, of which 250 were built at Home for the Railway Operating Division, Royal Engineers, for service in France during the war, and which were at that time in my charge. The large distinctive numbers which were used in connection with train control and reporting in France still appear on the tenders. Mr. Brown, who takes a great pride in his engines, which are kept exceptionally clean, was extremely proud when I pointed out one with which I worked the special train conveying the Com-mander-in-Chief, the late Sir Douglas Haig, through to Cologne immediately after the armistice.
The provision of automatic couplers has seriously engaged the attention of several of the lines. I spent some time on this subject with the respective Chief Mechanical Engineers and visited the steel works where these are being made in large quantities. The transition period coupler used is ingenious and effective, and the ease and freedom with which shunters couple and uncouple wagons fitted with the coupler makes one reminiscent of Canada and U.S.A., where automatic couplers are universally used.
The comfort of the carriages and the fine facilities provided for the conveyance of travellers were among the features of travel in Australia noted by Mr. Lynde.
“In the observation car by which I travelled it was a great asset to have a telephone placed on a writing table connected up with the city exchange right up to the moment of departure. This is now a common practice in Australia, and is greatly appreciated, particularly by business men, as it gives them an opportunity to keep in touch with their affairs up to the last possible moment, and proves particularly convenient in cases of emergency for other passengers in the event of sickness or other news of an urgent nature.
“The construction of the ears is admirable, and the furnishings tasteful, comfortable and attractive. There is nothing left undone which might add to the pleasure of train travel on a journey between Sydney and Melbourne, and in the Victorian area the 5ft. 3in. gauge has given designers a great opportunity, of which they have availed themselves fully, for adopting additional comfort-giving adaptations of luxury travel furnishings.
“I returned from the conference assured of the value of such gatherings and of the progressive spirit that animates the men of the railways in that country. The conference agenda was the longest yet submitted, consisting of 215 items, interchange of ideas and experience being most freely given, to the benefit of all concerned.”page 9