The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
Summer passenger train working in Europe and more especially on the Home railways, promises to produce many outstanding high-speed runs. Express working is a feature of main-line operation on the four group systems, and during the present summer it is probable new speed records will be established on the Anglo-Scottish runs and in the passenger train services between London and the West of England.
Last year both the London. Midland and Scottish and London and North Eastern Railways broke new ground with their now world-famous long-distance non-stop trains to and from the north. The running times of these trains are likely to be considerably improved upon during the forthcoming tourist season, and it is even possible that the year 1928 may see something approaching a railway race to Scotland such as was witnessed just forty years ago, with the “Flying Scotsman” and the “Royal Scot”—trains of the East and West Coast routes respectively—as the leading contestants.
Prior to 1888 the journey by the East Coast route, from King's Cross station (London) to Edinburgh occupied just nine hours, with a halt of thirty minutes for lunch at the mid-way station of York. In June, 1888, the West Coast authorities reduced the journey time of the 10 a.m. train from Euston station (London) to Edinburgh from ten to nine hours, thus equalling the time of their rivals. July saw a cut on the East Coast route from 9 to 8 1/2 hours, to which the Euston people replied by announcing that from August 1st they also would make the run in 8 1/2 hours. Nothing daunted, the King's Cross officials immediately instituted an 8-hour timing, and again the West Coast fell into line with a similar speedy booking. By the middle of August, 1888, both routes were operating 7 3/4-hour trains between the two capitals. On August 13th the West Coast set up a new record with a run of 7 hours 38 minutes, while the following day the East Coast made the journey in exactly 7 hours 32 minutes. A truce was then called, it being agreed that the East Coast should retain its timing of 7 3/4 hours until August 31st, and the West Coast revert to 8 hours. On August 31st, however, the East Coast train ran from London to Edinburgh (393 miles) with a train of seven loaded carriages in 7 hours 27 minutes, with a 26 1/2 minute halt at York. This trip constitutes the record for the London-Edinburgh run, and it marked the termination of the historic race to Scotland. To-day both the East and West Coast routes occupy 8 1/4 hours on the London-Edinburgh run.
Long Distance Non-stop Runs.
While the Home railways take immense pride in fast passenger services such as those maintained by the “Flying Scotsman” and the “Royal Scot,” and short-distance runs like the 43-minute flight of the Darlington to York express (44 miles), the group railways of Britain recognise that across the Channel much remarkably fast running is accomplished, notably by the French railways, and in particular the Northern system. The Northern Railway of France has for long been famed for fast passenger operation. So long ago as 1888 this railway could lay claim to operating the longest run for a non-stop daily passenger train on the Continent of Europe. This was the 101 mile run of the Paris-Calais boat express between Amiens and Calais. At the present time the Northern Railway still holds the record for long-distance non-stop running, with its Paris-Brussels non-stop service (194 miles), while another outstanding run is the 94 minute dash of the “Rapide” from Paris to St. Quentin (96 miles).
Last summer the Northern Railway of France actually operated the twenty-seven fastest passenger trains in that country. These included such far-famed services as the “Golden Arrow” Pullmans between Paris and Calais, the “Nord Expresses” between Paris and Jeumont, the “Etoiles du Nord” between Feignies and Paris, and the Dunkirk-Paris “Rapides” covering the 191 miles between these points in 205 minutes. Recently the Midi (Southern) Railway has come to the front among French railways for fast running. The “Sud Express” of this undertaking covers the 91 1/2 miles from Bordeaux to Dax in exactly 89 minutes, a speed of more than 62 miles an hour.
Gaining the Public's Confidence.
On almost every hand there is now a much more friendly spirit existing between railways page 19 and railway users than in the days gone by. This feature of present-day conditions in New Zealand is reproduced at Home, where the establishment of local and regional conferences of railway officers and representatives of the traders is enabling the speedy solution to be come to of many vital problems of mutual concern. Especially wise is the move now being made by the Home railways to take the public into their confidence by the dissemination of news through the national and local newspapers. This feature was commented upon by Mr. J. B. Elliot, Advertising Manager of the Southern Railway, in a recent lecture to students of the Institute of Transport.
In years gone by, Mr. Elliot remarked, if a newspaper required information concerning railways, in the majority of instances the newspaper representatives were curtly informed that no Press statements were permissible. Nowadays all this has changed. Each railway to-day runs its own press section, and accredited representatives of the newspapers are always welcomed and furnished with accurate and timely information. Railway facts are thus presented to the public in true perspective, and by taking the public into confidence a friendly spirit of co-operation and interest has taken the place of the hostile outlook so common in the past.