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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)


For many years prior to the Great War, the fastest train in the British Empire was the 61.7 miles per hour express of the North Eastern Railway between Darlington and York. This relatively brief “spurt” was rightly considered a wonderful performance, but fast running such as this is to-day quite outshone by our streamlined flyers. Curiously enough, the honour of operating the Empire's fastest daily passenger service has again fallen to the North Eastern line—or, at least, to the London & North Eastern, to give our second largest group undertaking its full title. The new record-breaker is the “Coronation Express,” running daily in either direction between King's Cross Station, London, and Edinburgh.

The “Coronation Express” covers the 392¾ miles between the English and Scottish capitals in exactly six hours, including one intermediate stop of three minutes. On the “Down” journey, an average speed of 71.9 m.p.h. is maintained over the 188 miles section between London and York, this representing the fastest regular daily steam train service in the Empire. The throughout average speed of this wonder train for the 392¾ miles is 66.02 m.p.h.

The streamlined locomotive “Dominion of New Zealand,” with its four fellow engines, employed for hauling the “Coronation Express,” is a 4–6–2 locomotive having leading dimensions as follows:—Length, 71 ft.; weight in working order, 167 tons; boiler pressure, 250 lbs.; diameter of driving wheels, 6 ft. 8 in.; cylinder diameter, 18½ in.; stroke, 26 in.; tractive effort, 35,500 lbs. The tender, with its corridor to enable engine crews to be changed without stopping, carries 8 tons of coal and 5,000 gallons of water. The locomotives are finished in Garter blue, with dark red wheels, and the armorial bearings of each country concerned are displayed on the cab.

The “Coronation Express” is composed of eight articulated carriages and a streamlined “tail car.” The latter vehicle is reversed at the end of each trip and placed at the rear of the train to serve as an observation saloon. Seats are provided in the eight carriages for 48 first-class and 168 third-class passengers. The first-class cars are divided into sections, each accommodating four passengers. Ornamental screen wings divide each section into two alcoves, each accommodating two people. The swivel chairs are so arranged that passengers when dining are facing diagonally towards the windows. Electricity is employed in the two kitchens, with power supplied by axle-driven generators. The exterior of the “Coronation Express” is painted Marlborough blue above the waist, and Garter blue below, with stainless steel mouldings. It might well claim to be the handsomest train in the world.