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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 5 (August 1, 1936)

Our London Letter

page 29

Our London Letter

Travel Films on the “Queen Mary.”

An outstanding event in the world of travel was the inauguration of the new “Queen Mary” steamship services across the Atlantic. All of us are rightly immensely proud of this stately Cunard-White Star liner which bears so honoured a name; and railwaymen, in particular, have played a big part in the building and despatch of our latest ocean greyhound.

Practically all the steelwork and other material required for construction passed by rail to the Clyde shipbuilding yard. It was in the Southern Railway dry-dock at Southampton that the final overhaul of the “Queen Mary's” hull was undertaken, while it is also the Southern Railway's Ocean Dock at Southampton which has been selected as the Home terminal of the new service.

With the general construction and equipment of the “Queen Mary” most readers will be already familiar. One interesting feature which has not been given special prominence, however, is the operation on board of a fullyequipped railway and travel information bureau, representing the four Home railway groups, the Irish railways, and the Travel Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The staff of this bureau, provided by the Home railways, issue tickets and make reservations in respect of steamship travel between Great Britain and Ireland, and between Home ports and the Continent, as well as reserving accommodation for tourists at any of the long chain of railway hotels scattered throughout the British Isles. One powerful publicity agent at their command takes the form of a complete film library of travel subjects, these films being regularly shown on board for the entertainment of passengers.

A Valuable Source of Railway Revenue.

Cheap ticket arrangements by the score operate on the Home railways for the benefit of the holiday-maker. An especially useful plan is that known as the “seven day holiday zone season.” Under this arrangement, the whole country has been divided into special zones, with about 250 miles of railway in each area. There are about 118 selected zones within which holiday season tickets may be obtained covering seven days’ travel, these including both large cities and seaside and country resorts. For fifteen shillings first-class, or ten shillings thirdclass, unlimited travel for one week within any of these zones is placed at public disposal. For five shillings extra one may take a bicycle along, too; or for half-a-crown, your favourite dog. The whole of the stations in the beautiful Isle of Wight can be covered for seven-and-sixpence, thirdclass. Any one of the River Clyde steamers operating from Glasgow is at the passengers’ service for twentyfive shillings a week. These cheap tickets are immensely popular with knowing holiday-makers, and provide a valuable source of railway revenue.

Streamlined electric rail-car, Swiss Federal Railways.

Streamlined electric rail-car, Swiss Federal Railways.

A Link with George Stephenson.

Stephenson relics are constantly being discovered on the Home railways. Recently, a 15-ft. length of rail designed by George Stephenson more than a century ago, for the Leicester and Swannington Railway, now part of the London, Midland and Scottish group, was presented to the South Kensington Science Museum, London, by Sir Josiah Stamp, Chairman and President of the Executive of the L. M. & S. The rail, which once formed a part of the original Leicester and Swannington track, is of wrought-iron and of a “fish-bellied” type. It had an original weight of 35 lbs. per yard.

It was on the Leicester and Swannington Railway, opened in 1832, that the locomotive whistle is popularly believed to have been invented. Following a collision between one of the page 30 page 31
A famous English holiday haunt. Ann Hathaway's historic cottage, Stratford-on-Aron, G.W. Railway.

A famous English holiday haunt. Ann Hathaway's historic cottage, Stratford-on-Aron, G.W. Railway.

early trains and a horse-drawn vehicle, Stephenson commissioned an organbuilder in Leicester to make a “steamtrumpet” out of an organ-pipe, and this duly proved effective.

A Hundred Years Ago.

Those two thriving north-country cities—Manchester and Leeds—famed respectively for cottons and woollens, are celebrating this year the one hundredth anniversary of the passing through Parliament of the Bill authorising the construction of that historic transportation link, the Manchester and Leeds Railway. The movement for the building of the Manchester and Leeds line began in 1825, but it was not until some five years later that a working company was formed, and George Stephenson and James Walker employed to conduct a survey. Short-sightedly, it would seem, the proposals of the promoters were thrown out by Parliament. In 1836, better luck attended the promoters, for all objections were then swept aside, and the Parliamentary Bill received Royal Assent on July 4 of that year.

Building of the Manchester and Leeds Railway commenced in 1837, with Stephenson in charge of the engineering works. The section of track between St. George's Fields, Manchester, and Littleborough was the first to be opened out—on July 4, 1839. The section between Hebden Bridge and Normanton followed, connection being given at the latter point with the old North Midland Railway. Through working between Manchester and Leeds began on December 31, 1840, the entire cost of the programme having run to something like #250,000. In 1847, the Manchester and Leeds Railway was swallowed up by the Lancashire and Yorkshire system, the latter railway itself disappearing as a separate concern in 1923 on the formation of the London, Midland and Scottish group.

The Rail-car of Real Utility.

On routes of relatively light traffic density, the European railways are finding the rail-car of real utility.
Canard-White Star R.M.S. “Queen Mary” entering the Southern Railway Dry Dock at Southampton.

Canard-White Star R.M.S. “Queen Mary” entering the Southern Railway Dry Dock at Southampton.

A need, however, is felt for some form of train unit in between the rail-car and the standard heavy train—that is, a unit which will carry about 200 passengers at reasonably high speeds. Many experiments are being conducted with this object in view, and recently the Swiss Federal Railways have evolved a new type of threecoach electric train which promises to prove of good service. The train is made up of two motor cars—one at either end—with an ordinary coach in between. All the axles of the two outer coaches are motor driven, and the centre coach has no drive of its own. Speeds of up to about 90 m.p.h. are expected. Seats are provided for 214 passengers in each train. The overhead transmission system is employed, this being standard in Switzerland. The new three-coach electric trains are supplementing the famous “Red Arrow” light electric rail-cars which seat 70 passengers, and operate with success in the Lausanne, Basle, Zurich and Geneva areas.

In France, rail-car operation continues steadily to increase. Rail-cars now operate over approximately 1,500 miles of track on the Paris-Orleans-Midi system, and have resulted in the regaining of much passenger business temporarily lost to road. Rail-cars for freight movement constitute the latest development on some of the French routes.