The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 10 (January 1, 1936)
Our London Letter — Improved Passenger Services
Our London Letter
Improved Passenger Services.
A Happy New Year to all! Throughout almost the whole world of railways the past year witnessed a steady improvement in the traffic and general transport situation, and, so far as can be foreseen, 1936 promises to carry on the good work of its predecessor in this regard.
At Home, a feature of the season is the very liberal passenger services which are being operated during what is normally the slack winter period. The winter schedules of our biggest group system—the London, Midland and Scottish—include seventeen new 60 miles—per-hour runs, with numerous improved cross-country connections. The London and North Eastern has introduced new fast trains between London and Newcastle-on-Tyne, and London and Hull, while another winter feature is the augmented suburban service in the London area, particularly on Sundays. On the Great Western, the winter programme provides 139 new services. The total winter passenger train service on this line includes 5,484 daily trains, with a train mileage of 114,462. Incidentally, 18 trains on the Great Western system cover 1,772 miles daily at more than 60 m.p.h.
The “Silver Jubilee Express.”
One of the most interesting new services just introduced in Britain is the “Silver Jubilee Express” of the L. and N.E. Railway, between King's Cross Station, London, and Newcastle-on-Tyne. This is a streamlined express performing the fastest longdistance run in Britain. It covers the 268 mile journey in just four hours, an average speed of 67 m.p.h. One intermediate stop is made at Darlington, and allowing for this the throughout average speed is nearly 70 1/2 m.p.h. Four locomotives have been built for this daily service. All are completely streamlined, with corridor tender. They are three-cylinder, simple expansion “Pacifies,” with an eightwheeled tender, and have been built in the Doncaster railway shops under the direction of Mr. H. N. Gresley. Boiler pressure is 250 lbs. per square inch, grate area 41 1/2 square feet, and cylinders are each of 18 1/2 inches diameter by 26 inches stroke. Streamlining of the front end takes the form of a horizontal wedge, not unlike the design incorporated by M. Bugatti in his high-speed French railcars.
The “Silver Jubilee Express” consists of seven coaches, articulated. Like the locomotive, the coaches are decorated with silver on their exteriors. The total weight of the train is 220 tons, and 198 pasengers are carried. Two restaurant cars and a kitchen car are included in the equipment. The train is available for ordinary ticket-holders, subject to an extra charge of five shillings for firstclass travel, and three shillings for third-class.
Across the Channel, Germany is also making tremendous progress in streamlining. The “Flying Hamburger” was, of course, one of the world's first streamlined expresses, and this unique Diesel-electric unit was actually the inspiration for other lands to launch out in the streamlining field. Railroads everywhere are now taking up the idea, and it seems certain that at no distant date many of the world's leading express trains will be completely streamlined.
Lighter Trains Favoured.
The day of the long and heavy passenger train now definitely appears to be numbered. Everywhere, lighter trains and railcars are being pressed into service, and in Switzerland there has just been brought into use a new lightweight streamlined railcar of really novel design. Fitted with driving motors deriving current from the overhead transmission lines that are already provided over most of the Swiss main-lines, the new electric railcar has a driving compartment at each end, and seating accommodation for 100 persons. The unique point about the car is that the driver's cab closely resembles that of a motor lorry. A hand-wheel (similar to the steering-wheel of a motor-car) when turned to the right, gives ten running positions, and when turned to the left, eleven braking positions. To crown all, the railcar has a streamlined bonnet, almost identical in exterior appearance to the bonnet of a modern racing motor-car. Speeds of up to 90 m.p.h. are being attained by the new Swiss railcar, which is proving a big business-bringer, and a very convenient means of providing fast and frequent service on main-lines of relatively light traffic density.
Improved Railway Position.
The annual railway returns of the Home lines for 1934, recently published, show that there was a very decided improvement in the British railway financial position during that year. Net revenue grew from £29,- 589,089 in 1933, to £32,254,986 in 1934. Gross railway receipts showed an increase of nearly £6,000,000 over 1933. The bettered position was noticeable on both the passenger and freight sides, the freight increases in particular reflecting very strikingly the general improvement in the country's trade.
Operating statistics for 1934 showed an increase in locomotive mileage of 4.15 per cent., an increase in passenger train-miles of 3.25 per cent., and an increase in freight train-miles of 5.03 per cent. Total passenger and freight train-miles for 1934 were 427,- 500,000. The total number of passenger journeys (including season ticket holders) were 1,199,961,976, an increase of 3.56 per cent. Receipts from passenger traffic showed an increase of 2.24 per cent. During 1934, the Home railways increased their freight tonnage by 7.34 per cent. and net tonmiles by 7.94 per cent.
Travel Concessions Increase Traffic.
One of the features of Home railway passenger traffic is the fact that something like ninety per cent, of the passengers handled are conveyed at special fares substantially lower than the ordinary standard rates. There are three fares divisions on the Home lines—first, second and third-class. Second-class is a relic of Victorian days, and in practice it is only on very few routes that second-class carriages now run. The standard fares for single journeys are based on the English mile—1,609 metres. They are respectively: —first-class 2 1/2., second-class (where in operation) 2d., and thirdclass 1 1/2 per mile. Return fares are normally double the single. Single journey tickets are available for three days, and return tickets are available for use on the outward or return journey any day within three months. Children under the age of three years are conveyed free when accompanied by a fare-paying passenger. Children between three years and fourteen are carried at half fares. The various fares concessions, of which so large a number of passengers make use, include among others week-end and monthly return tickets, at a single fare and a third for the double journey; day and half-day excursion tickets; pleasure party bookings; anglers', hikers' and golfers' tickets; and the like.
Lastly, there was Professor Cook, a Cambridge man, Sixth Wrangler in die Mathematical Tripos. He was a typical mathematician, and at first sight a severe and forbidding apparition “solid serious, dignified.” I remember well, finding carved in my back desk in his lecture hall,
“In spite of what the bard has penned
I find that distance does Not lend Enchantment to the view.”
He was an ardent music lover, a good cricketer, and an enthusiast about athletics. He, too, had a capacity for inspiring affection and above all, was a superb teacher. One of his pupils was Ernest Rutherford. There were other great men, but those three pioneers are the richest figures in retrospect. It is as well, however, to be reminded of Sir Julius Von Haast and Professor Hutton, two early great professors.
Since then, a procession of distinguished figures has adorned the many Chairs of Canterbury College and the graduates who owe their love (or dislike) of learning to them are found in every part of the globe. And, this has to be said. Canterbury has produced far more than its quota share of writers; in fact, no other province remotely compares with it. The achievement is of great variety, too, including our best short story writers, a woman writer whose detective stories are the most subtle and polished in English, our best women poets, and a host of men with the gift of writing prose poetry on scientific subjects. In making the first anthology of short stories of New Zealand I found that eighty per cent. of the material had to be the work of Canterbury writers. The explanation is not far to seek.
Please now look at our illustrations. The double quadrangle was an inspiration. On a summer day this quiet close has the dreaming beauty of centuries of age. Here, again, in some magic way, the haphazard, here-andthere growth of the various buildings has burgeoned into harmonious sweetness It seems incredible to imagine that half a century ago, this was a heterogeneous collection of stone buildings, tin sheds, wooden halls and other odds and ends. It has shared in the English genius for right growth, that genius which causes the foreigner to remark irritably that the British Empire was founded in a fit of absent mindedness. However unintended, however divorced from any set plan, however free from any scientific regime, Canterbury College is, to-day, a personality of grey stone, coloured creeper, green lawns, bright flowers, fused into a unity of ordered loveliness.
I show now the breath-taking beauty of the exterior of the Old Provincial Chambers and its fairy-like assembly hall interior. Here sat the little Parliament of the days when Canterbury governed herself and cared naught for Taranaki or Marlborough. In that misty dawn of the settlement, this exquisite example of Gothic architecture was raised by our forbears. The roof of scarlet and gold is a flawless and magnificent specimen of the Gothic-vaulted ceiling. Here, I might say, that much of the old world sweetness of these Christchurch scenes is due to the inherent love of Englishmen for the noblest form of architecture, the Gothic. Its pointed arches, sharp-edged fretwork, delicate tracery, flying buttresses and its slendertopped spires appeal to something deep-seated in English hearts. It suits and adorns the countryside and, in Christchurch, they have contrived to preserve this in great measure. Christ's College, in its ivied chapel, Canterbury College in its cluster of double arches, and the Provincial Chambers in their perfect outline, are visions of delight.
These works of the hands of men are symbolic of a feeling so intense that it is often almost inarticulate; the feeling that the things of Old England must be cherished and safeguarded wherever Englishmen may go.