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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

Largest Suburban Electrification in the World

Largest Suburban Electrification in the World.

Electrification, of course, lends itself to many pleasing station improvements. At the present time Great Britain carries more passengers electrically than any other country in Europe, and the London suburban electrifications of the Southern
A Shop window on the home railways. The attractive exterior of Wimbledon Station, Southern Railway, England.

A Shop window on the home railways.
The attractive exterior of Wimbledon Station, Southern Railway, England.

voltages could be shown to be advantageous. In 1928 a second advisory committee confirmed the standard of direct current at 1,500 volts, but instead of making the lower voltage dependent on the consent of the Ministry, it also standardised 750 volts, leaving 3,000 volts to be applied for. In future, extensions or new railway electrifications at Home are to be either on the higher or lower voltage of 1,500 or 750, but the fact that by far the greater part of the existing multiple unit represents the largest individual suburban electrification in the world. Although the abundance of excellent coal supplies has tended to act as a brake to Home mainline electrification, important works of this character are to be put in hand in the near future, notably in the London and Manchester areas, while between London and Brighton the double track main line of the Southern system is at present being electrified throughout.

Ten years ago an Advisory Committee set up by the Government decided in favour of direct current, at a voltage of 1,500 at the substation busbars, as standard for all Home railway electrifications. A sub-multiple of 750 volts, or a multiple of 3,000 volts, could be approved by the Ministry of Transport in cases where such stock is either at 600 volts—the urban voltage in London—or at 650 volts for suburban work, such as on the Southern line, has been recognised by the recommendation that, while electric motors should be designed to give the best results at the voltage for which they have to work, all motors in future should be capable of working at 750 volts or at 1,500 volts as the case might be. Overhead collection is standardised at Home for 1,500 volts, but third rail collection is permitted in special circumstances, with uninsulated return by the running rails.