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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

Fast Railway Travel In Britain

Fast Railway Travel In Britain.

Holiday passenger traffic handled by the Home railways during the past few months attained tremendous volume. Marked accelerations of long-distance passenger trains have been the order of the day on each of the four group systems; cheap fares have given added attraction to rail travel; while novelty has been introduced by the operation of regular railway-owned aeroplane services linking the industrial centres with popular beach resorts, week-end trips on an “all included” cheap tariff by luxurious railway-owned steamers and a wonderfully wide choice of long and short distance runs by railway owned Pullman motor-charabancs.

The speeding-up of British passenger trains is especially striking. Commencing with the summer holiday time-tables operative from July last, each of the four consolidated railways made big cuts in the journey-times of the leading expresses linking London and the principal cities with the various coast resorts. This bold move has gone far to meet the keen competition of the road carrier and the privately-owned motor car.

Improvements in passenger train running, introduced on the Great Western line, are typical of the season's effort of all the Home systems. That famous train —the “Cornish Riviera Limited”—operating daily between Paddington Station, London, and Penzance, Cornwall, now accomplishes the 225 3/4 miles non-stop run between London and Plymouth in 3 hours 37 minutes, a saving of ten minutes on the old timing. The “Torbay Express,” between London and the beautiful Devonshire resort of Torquay, covers the 199 3/4 mile journey daily in exactly 210 minutes. Even the far-famed “Cheltenham Flyer” has been accelerated by five minutes. This is the train that travels from Swindon to Paddington, a distance of 77 1/4 miles, in just 65 minutes. Examination of the Great Western timetables show that every day some 1,257 miles are covered by twelve main-line trains at start-to-stop speeds of from 60 to 71 miles an hour. In two years, through consistent speeding-up of its passenger trains, the Great Western has effected an aggregate saving in train journey times of 13,637 minutes daily.

“Land Cruising” Popular.

Selling summer rail transport to the holiday-maker is an innovation in Britain, styled “Land Cruising.” The London and North Eastern was the pioneer of this attraction, and the first “Land Cruise” was launched on June 17 last. A special train, consisting entirely of luxury cars, equipped for both day and night travel, set out during that month on a week's tour of 2,000 miles, through the choicest portions of scenic Britain. Passengers on this pioneer cruise were limited to sixty. Each was allotted a numbered and reserved seat in the restaurant car, and an page 18 exclusive bedroom in the sleeping-car. A smoking room, writing room, shower baths, hairdressing saloon, and ladies’ retiring room, were among the amenities provided.

King's Cross Station, London, formed the jumping-off point, and the cruise embraced visits to Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lossiemouth—birthplace of Ramsay Mac-Donald—beautiful Loch Lomond, the Scott Country, the English Lake District, the picturesque Yorkshire coast, and ancient cities like York, Ely, Lincoln and Cambridge; £20 was the inclusive charge for this wonderful “Land Cruise,” this covering everything from boarding the train at King's Cross to stepping off again in London on the return. Motor and steamship trips, gala dances, the services of experienced guides, motor coach outings, and all meals and sleeping accommodation on the train, were thrown in for the one inclusive charge. Land Cruising” through Britain is one of the most popular railway innovations that have ever been devised.

Savings in Modern Signalling Equipment.

Through the installation of new power signalling at King's Cross Station, London, the L. & N.E. Railway are effecting considerable economies and securing more efficient and speedier turn-over of trains. The new equipment includes a central signal-box, replacing the two former manually-operated boxes, and having an all-electric power interlocking frame with 232 levers; 60 long-range colour light signals; and 90 short-range shunting lights.

In addition to handling an enormous main-line traffic and important suburban business, King's Cross is an essential link with the south for the movement of freight. About fifty freight trains from various parts of the L. and N.E. line pass through the station daily for points on the Southern system, via the Metropolitan Railway. Opened in 1852, King's Cross cost £123,000 to build, and the first timetable showed thirteen inward and thirteen outward trains daily. To-day, about 300 inward and 300 outward passenger trains use the terminus daily. Included among
The luxurious sleeping cars utilised on the L. and N.E.R. “Land Cruise” trains.

The luxurious sleeping cars utilised on the L. and N.E.R. “Land Cruise” trains.

these are such world-famed services as the “Flying Scotsman,” the “West Riding Pullman,” and the “Queen of Scots” express.

New signalling and similar equipment naturally costs money, but the Home railways realise that it is sometimes necessary to spend in order to save. Labour-saving plant and equipment introduced in Britain will show valuable economies in the years that lie ahead, and the case of the L. and N.E. line may be quoted in this connection.

Through the amalgamation of signalboxes and the introduction of power signalling, the L. and N.E. Company, at an expenditure of £472,000, is realising an annual saving of £97,500. In the remodelling of locomotive depots, some £800,000 has been spent by the line in four years, but savings of £84,000 have already accrued as a result. On mechanical accounting an expenditure of £42,000 has recently been sanctioned: this will produce a saving of £15,000 a year. By concentrating two or more roadside stations page 19 under one stationmaster, an economy was effected last year of £15,000, making a total saving of £145,000 since 1923. The introduction of the telephonic control system cost the L. and N.E. authorities £93,000, but this expenditure has proved well worth while, showing a saving of £37,000 per annum. Mechanical carriage washing cost £87,000, but savings of £18,000 a year have been derived in this way. Through the installation of eleven passimeters, or mechanical ticketofficers, a net saving of £3,000 per annum has resulted.

Rail-cars in Europe.

Adapting themselves to changed conditions, the European railways continue to introduce considerable numbers of light rail-cars in place of heavy steam train units. On the French State Railways and the Paris-Lyons-Mediterranean system Diesel-engined rail-cars of a novel type are being employed, having the driver's compartment in the centre of the vehicle, with the upper portion of the cab projecting above the roof of the car. The idea is to afford the driver perfect visibility in all directions, and to simplify the transmission and centralise the controls. The new French cars seat 44 passengers. Over all length is 42 feet, width 8ft. 10 1/4in., and wheelbase 23ft. Tare weight is 14 tons, and maximum loaded speed 56 m.p.h. Another type of rail-car, petrol-driven, with observation top, has been introduced on the State Railways, this being a Michelin product, with pneumatic tyres.

Fast electric passenger locomotive on the Arlberg Railway, Austria.

Fast electric passenger locomotive on the Arlberg Railway, Austria.

On the Italian State Railways a new type of rail-car has been acquired from the Fiat Company. This is petrol-driven, seats 48 passengers, and weighs 11 tons empty. The car is 43ft. in length, the body being largely composed of aluminium. This is in line with the present policy throughout Europe of reducing the weight of train units to a minimum. That rail-cars have come to stay there cannot be the slightest doubt. In their absence, operation of many branch routes would be a hopelessly impracticable proposition from the financial viewpoint.

Passenger Carriages in Switzerland.

Exceptionally heavy tourist business has in recent months been handled by the Swiss Federal Railways. To meet the needs of the tourist the Berne authorities have put into service many new types of passenger carriage, including special observation vehicles to enable passengers to view the striking Alpine panoramas.

Some 3,500 passenger vehicles are owned by the Swiss Government lines, providing 200,000 seats. The rollingstock is classified alphabetically, first, second and third-class stock being denoted by the letters A, B and C respectively. The letter F denotes luggage vans, while letters J to P apply to goods wagons.

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