The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 8 (November 1, 1935)
Our London Letter — A New Turbine Locomotive
Afeature of present-day railway operation is the almost universal increase in passenger train speeds and loads. As a result, new and more powerful locomotives of various types are constantly being introduced, and on the Home railways we now have, as the latest innovation, a new London, Midland and Scottish turbine locomotive, the first turbo-locomotive to be constructed in any of the British railways' own shops.
The L. M. & S. turbo-locomotive is No. 6202, the third of the “Princess Royal” class of 4-6-2 express passenger engines to be built in the Crewe works. In general, the new locomotive follows the design of the previous conventional engines of its class, but it is driven by a turbine. The drive from the turbine is direct on to the driving wheels. On this account, there is no outside motion visible, except the coupling rods. The principal dimensions and details are as follows:—total wheel-base, 63 ft. 10 in.; weight in working order, 163 tons 13 cwts.; coal capacity of tender, 9 tons; water capacity, 4,000 gallons; boiler pressure, 250 lbs. per sq. in.; total heating surface, 2,967 sq. ft.; grate area, 45 sq. ft. The turbo-locomotive is at present undergoing trials in main-line working. Its main advantages are claimed to be smooth starting and rapid acceleration, coupled with important savings in locomotive and track maintenance through the abolition of the hammer-blow effects usually associated with reciprocating motion.
Progress in Locomotive Design.
Looking back, it is pleasing to note how marked is the progress effected in locomotive design within recent years. A quarter of a century ago, the most favoured Home locomotive type was the 4-4-0 class. “Pacifies” then made their appearance, led by the Great Western “Great Bear.” “Pacifics” are largely employed for express passenger haulage to-day, although a tremendous amount of useful work is put in by 4-4-0 locomotives. An example of this class is the “Schools” series of engines of the Southern Railway, a 4-4-0 design almost as large as the “King Arthur” 4-6-0 type.
The year 1923 saw the introduction of the Great Western 4-6-0 four-cylinder “Castle” locomotives, and four years later the same railway gave us the first “King” class 4-6-0 engine, the most famous example of which is the far-famed “King George V.” About this time, too, there was born the “Royal Scot” class 4-6-0 express passenger locomotives of the L.M. & S. Railway. Innovations were the L. & N.E. high-pressure locomotive No. 10,000, with a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement and water-tube boiler with working pressure of 450 lb.; and the L.M. & S. high-pressure locomotive “Fury,” of which little, incidentally, has recently been heard. To-day, the most powerful Home passenger locomotive is the L. & N.E. “Cock o' the North,” a 2-8-2 engine weighing 1651/2 tons, and having a tractive effort of 43,462 lbs. Altogether, the four Home railway groups own about 20,400 steam locomotives.
Increasing Use of Railways.
All over the world, rail-cars have become established as profitable train units. In Europe, the railways are finding these light rail-cars of the greatest utility in combating the competition of the road carrier; and while, at the outset, train units of this type were principally confined to branch-line operation, to-day their use is generally extending to the main-lines. In Britain, long-distance rail-cars are regularly in commission, a noteworthy service being that of the Great Western system between Birmingham and Cardiff.
Across the Channel, France is putting into traffic high-speed rail-cars on many main-lines, while in Hungary specially fast rail-cars are running daily between Budapest, the capital, and the Austrian capital of Vienna. On the Paris-Brest route recently, a world's record was set up by a Bugatti petrol-driven rail-car, which attained a speed of 122 m.p.h. A similar rail-car connects Paris with Vichy, the popular spa. In Germany, a new fast rail-car service has just been inaugurated between Berlin and the Rhineland city of Cologne. The trains employed are on similar lines to the well-known “Flying Hamburgher,” but incorporate a number of improvements aiming at greater passenger comfort and quieter operation.
Petrol-driven rail-car, seating 48 passengers, now operating extensively on the Italian State Railways.
New British Trains.
New and more luxurious passenger rolling-stock continues to be built by the Home railways. The most interesting recent addition under this head takes the form of the first of a pair of new corridor trains which are to maintain the “Cornish Riviera Limited” daily services of the G.W. line. As mentioned in last month's Letter, the London-Cornwall services have been entirely remodelled, and these new train sets are for operation in the accelerated runs, which include a daily non-stop flight of 279 miles between London and Truro, except on Saturdays, when the “Down” train runs from Paddington to St. Erth (2991/2 miles) non-stop.
The trains are being built in the railway shops at Swindon, and each consists of thirteen coaches, accommodating 508 passengers. Each coach is sixty feet in length and nine feet seven inches wide. Vestibule entrances are provided, with overhanging bow ends reducing the length of gangway between the cars. The bodies have fireproof floors, and are completely encased with steel plating. Included in the composition of the train is a first-class and a third-class dining-car, these seating 24 and 64 passengers respectively. The kitchen forms part of the first-class dining-car. It is lined with stainless steel sheeting, and cooking is done by gas. In the adjoining pantry there is special accommodation for the storage of china, cutlery, etc., in addition to wine cupboards, sinks and serving-tables. Altogether, the new “Cornish Riviera Limited” trains may truly be said to represent the very last word in long-distance passenger comfort.
Eliminating Night Noises.
While improvement in daytime travel conditions is keenly watched by the Home railways, the closest attention is now being given to the comfort of the night passenger. Not only are smoother riding coaches and quicker trains being introduced in the mainline night services, but the fullest consideration is also being paid to the need for reducing noise at the various stopping-places en route.
With the idea of popularising night travel, the L. & N.E. Railway has recently embarked upon an intensive campaign for the reduction of station noises during the night hours. At all stopping-places on the route of its principal night expresses, the platform barrows have been fitted with rubber tyres, while a special instructional bulletin has been issued to all concerned in night working regarding the need for quietness during the night hours. Thus, drivers are admonished not to allow their locomotives to blow off steam through the safety valves unnecessarily, nor, unless in emergency, are they to use the engine whistle. The guard's signal to the driver to start, similarly, should not take the form of the blowing of a whistle unless this is absolutely unavoidable. When stopping and starting, drivers are instructed to so regulate their speed as to entirely eliminate jarring and jerking. Station staffs are warned against shouting while on night duty, and a special instruction concerns the avoidance of noise in closing the doors of night trains.
The Railways and Safety.
It has been said with truth that the safest place in the whole wide world—so far as freedom from accidents is concerned—is a cosy seat in a modern express train. New Zealand is rightly proud of her rare record for railway safety, and in Britain the safety of the traveller is ever the prime concern of railwaymen of every grade. In 1934, the liability to death or injury in British train accidents worked out at one killed in every 96,000,000 passengers, and one injured in every 3,000,000. During the year, only seventeen passengers were killed in train accidents, and 537 injured. As regards railway employees, twelve men were killed in train accidents in 1934, and 96 injured.
Level crossing mishaps during the year accounted for the death of 31 persons, and injury to 68. The problem of level crossing protection is a somewhat difficult one, and at remote crossings much must necessarily depend upon the caution of the public themselves in making use of the facility. We have two main types of gated level crossings at Home—those on public roads, and those on private roads, known as “occupation” crossings. It is on the latter that most of the mishaps are recorded, and the railways are now collecting data with a view to determining what further measures, if any, may be taken to ensure additional safety at these points. At public road crossings a useful move now being made is the transference of protective signals to a greater distance from the actual crossings, this in view of increasing train speeds.