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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (July 1, 1933)

British Railway Improvements

British Railway Improvements.

Slowly improving trade conditions seem to give promise of more prosperous times ahead for the British railways. During the past year or two marked economies have been effected by all the four group systems, but care has been taken throughout to see that the thousand and one items of equipment that go to make up the transportation machine were maintained in first-class condition. Notwithstanding financial difficulties, essential new works and improvements have been undertaken to meet changing public demands and altered transport conditions. At no time in their century-old history have the railways been better equipped for public service.

In the years that have followed the grouping of the British railways, conspicuous improvements have been effected in locomotive development. Heavier trains, run at higher speeds, have everywhere called for more powerful and faster locomotives. New traffic routes, opened out as a result of grouping, have often taxed locomotives to their utmost limit. How well the railways have met changing conditions is illustrated by those wonderful products of the locomotive-designer's art—the “Royal Scot” engines of the London, Midland & Scottish line; the London & North Eastern's Doncaster-built “Pacifics”; the “King” Class machines of the Great Western; and the Southern Railway's magnificent “Lord Nelson” locomotives.

In Britain, rolling-stock of new design is continually being introduced. Almost every time a fresh batch of passenger carriages is built, new and improved standards of travel comfort are set up. Goods wagons, too, are subjected to constant betterment. There are probably no more suitably designed wagons the world over than the 24,000 twenty-tons capacity coal trucks belonging to the British lines.

In the realm of train signalling, in electrification—in every single branch of railway activity—there is apparent the determination of the four group railways to maintain their equipment at concert pitch. When the trade boom does arrive, depend upon it, the British railways will not be found wanting.

Popularising passenger travel is an objective that must never be lost sight of in these days of keen competition. By many, the modern traveller may be regarded as a somewhat pampered individual; the fact remains, however, that luxurious travel has come to stay, and it is only by providing really comfortable and speedy transport that the railway can hope to hold its own.

Like the New Zealand Railways, the Home lines have recently introduced page 18
Pfaffenberg Viaduct on the Tauern Branch, Austrian State Railways.

Pfaffenberg Viaduct on the Tauern Branch, Austrian State Railways.

many novel and attractive designs of passenger carriages. The London & North Eastern Railway have just put into service (between Leeds and Newcastle-on-Tyne) one of the world's first full-length buffet cars. The vehicle was converted from an ordinary passenger carriage in the railway shops. It is of the saloon type, 37½ft. long, with seats and tables for 22 passengers. At one end of the saloon is a counter, 11ft. 3in. long, together with a kitchen, where light meals are prepared. Special chromium-plated tubular steel chairs, upholstered in blue imitation leather, are employed. An automatic gas-heated boiler furnishes hot water for making tea and coffee, while steam is also utilised for heating the milk urn. In the kitchen—6ft. square—there are a toaster and grill, gas ring, ice chest, water-filter, washing-up sink, and plate-drying racks. The new car has proved immensely popular, for in these hard times many travellers much prefer a quick snack to a full-course meal, and it would seem probable that buffet cars of this type will shortly be run on most of the British long-distance trains.