The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)
Our London Letter
Our London Letter
“New Year's Day is with us once again, and optimism reigns in the heart of man. Good resolutions and an optimistic outlook on life always appear to go hand-in-hand with the New Year celebrations, and this is as it should be. The coming of a new year is an affair of prime importance to everyone, if only by reason of the stimulus the event affords all of us to improve upon the record of the past twelve months, and to push cheerfully ahead with whatever task the days may bring forth.”
—Our London Correspondent.
An Optimistic Forecast
In conducting their business of passenger and freight transportation, railways all over the world were, last year, faced with difficulties innumerable. Apart from the anxious days of the Great War, there probably never was a time when so many perplexing problems had to be met. Yet, taking all in all, railway records for 1930 almost everywhere give cause for satisfaction. There is scarcely a country in the world that did not make real progress in the railway field last year, and while prophecy may be the most dangerous of pastimes, it seems comparatively safe to predict increased railway prosperity throughout the globe during the coming twelve months. Railways are anything but a back number, despite the rapid growth of competitive means of movement. During 1931 it is up to railwaymen the world over to leave no stone unturned to prove the superiority of the “Iron Way” as a carrier of mankind and mankind's belongings.
Transportation situation in Britain.
Appropriately enough, as the year 1930 drew towards a close there was published one of the most thoughtful reviews yet produced of the transportation situation in Great Britain, and the respective parts likely to be occupied in the future by rail and road transport. Much that is contained in this review, which took the form of a report (prepared by Sir Henry Maybury, Mr. James Milne, Mr. Frank Pick and Mr. E. S. Shrapnell-Smith) for submission to the Sixth International Road Congress at Washington, U.S.A., is of interest to railwaymen everywhere, and especially in New Zealand, where road transport is now making such rapid progress.
The Problem of Branch Lines.
The growth of road transport has resulted in many changes in the Home railway world. Not the least striking of these changes now proceeding, is the closing down of many branch railways for passenger operation, and their replacement by railway-operated bus services. It seems likely that eventually road buses and trucks will form the railways’ standard equipment for handling branch line business, many branch railways in sparsely populated areas being either eliminated or converted into purely freight carrying lines.
A big replacement of passenger trains by railway-operated motor buses has recently occurred in North-East England, on the York and Scarborough branch of the L. and N.E. system. On this line there were hitherto fourteen intermediate passenger stations serving small towns and villages en route, and over the branch there were operated daily a number of stopping trains in addition to a through non-stop service. All of the intermediate stations, with one exception, have now been closed, the sole remaining station retained for passenger business being an important junction point midway on the branch. The intermediate depots are now used for freight traffic only. Passengers are conveyed by railway-operated motor buses, the services of which are so arranged as to link up with the trains at the two branch line termini of York and Scarborough, and the midway depot that has been retained. The motor buses meet all public needs, and as a result of the changeover considerable economies under staff and other headings have been effected.
French Railway Progress.
Across the Channel, most of the European railways are contemplating the change from rail to road transport in the rural areas. On the main lines, however, many noteworthy improvements are being put in hand. In France, the French State Railways propose to remodel completely the tracks, stations and services between Paris and the ports of Cherbourg and Le Havre. According to M. Dautry, the Director-General of the French State lines, the railway system between Paris and the Channel ports will shortly be one of the most remarkable and competent in the world.
Passenger Accommodation de Luxe.
In French railway working, and in passenger movement throughout Europe generally, a big part is played by an independent organisation known as the International Sleeping Car Company, which has its head-quarters in Brussels, and is the European counterpart of the American Pullman Company. Founded in 1876, the International Sleeping Car Company to-day operates some 2,100 sleeping cars and 292,600 drawing-room and restaurant cars. It has the exclusive right to run trains-de-luxe and carriages de-luxe in many countries, and also operates a chain of hotels at various tourist haunts.
One of the most important international trains operated by the International Sleeping Car Company is the Simplon-Orient Express. This train leaves Paris (P.L.M.) daily in three parts, running as follows:—(1) Between Calais and Constantinople; (2) between Calais and Bucharest; (3) between Calais and Athens. Other noteworthy trains formed of the luxurious cars page 22 of the undertaking are the Trans-Siberian Express, from Moscow to Vladivostok the Arlberg-Vienna Express, between Paris and Vienna; the Orient Express, Calais to Constantinople; the Nord Express, between Paris and Berlin; the Sud Express, Paris to Madrid; and the Rome Express, operating between the French capital and Rome. Many of the de-luxe trains of the International Sleeping Car Company include both first and second-class sleeping and restaurant cars, while in certain instances, this goahead concern also provides third-class accommodation on fast trains. It is a recognised fact that the International Sleeping Car Company has taken a main lead in the improvement of passenger accommodation generally throughout Europe.
Of all the Baltic train-ferries, the most famous is that linking Trelleborg in Sweden with Sassintz in Germany. Twin-screw ferry steamers transport complete trains across the sixty-five miles of open sea between the two points named, the ferry boats being 370 feet long and capable of a speed of 16 ½ knots per hour. Britain's experience of train-ferry operation is confined to the Harwich-Zeebrugge train-ferry, operated by the L. and N.E. Railway and the Belgian State Railways, between England and Belgium. This ferry, however, is employed exclusively for freight movement. Now that the Channel tunnel scheme between England and France has been turned down by the experts, it is not improbable that train-ferries will shortly be seriously considered as a means of moving passengers and freight between Britain and the mainland of Europe.