Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2 (June 1, 1928)

Suburban and Main Line Electrification

Suburban and Main Line Electrification.

Suburban electrification is now very much to the fore the world over. In this connection there has just been completed the conversion to electric traction of the Bombay suburban lines of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, and increased progress on the important London suburban electrification plan of the Southern line.

page 20

Practically all the big suburban electrification works carried out on the world's railways have been at points where an especially dense passenger business is handled, and at such locations there can be no question as to the superiority of electricity over steam as motive agent. In Britain, the Southern line leads with a huge electric zone in the London area embracing 272 route and 879 track miles. In North London the London, Midland and Scottish line operates an extensive electrified zone, while the Metropolitan also operates electric lines in this district. Outside the metropolis, the dense suburban business at Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is also expeditiously handled by electric service.

Across the Channel both the State and the Paris-Orleans Railways operate important electrified zones in and around Paris. Berlin is another world centre which is being rapidly given wholesale electric traction, while in Holland there has recently been opened up the electrified Rotterdam-Amsterdam route of the State Railways. From South Africa and the United States come similar reports of electricity's progress, and it is fairly safe to prophesy that the day is not so very far distant when electric traction will become universal in the suburban railway field.

Main-line electrification is quite a different problem to the conversion of suburban tracks. Examination of successful schemes for mainline electrification already completed invariably reveals that the ideal conditions for main-line electrification are to hand when heavy gradients exist or numerous tunnels are encountered en
Electric Multiple Unit Train (Formed of steam passenger cars converted for electric service), Southern Railway.

Electric Multiple Unit Train (Formed of steam passenger cars converted for electric service), Southern Railway.

route. In certain instances main-lines where no gradients of any moment are encountered, and where tunnels are practically non-existent, have profitably been electrified, but in these cases there is usually some specially favourable factor operating, generally an abundance of cheap natural water-power resources.

There has been much criticism of the alleged lack of enterprise of the Home railways in embarking upon schemes for main-line electrification. The fact is that there are very few lengths of British main-line which lend themselves to conversion to electricity at the present stage of affairs. On routes of high traffic density surprisingly few steep gradients exist, while no really long tunnels are encountered. Natural water-power is available to only a very limited extent, while the abundance of good quality locomotive coal found adjacent to almost every main-line will prolong for a considerable period the life of the steam locomotive at Home.