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

Our London Letter — Britain's Streamlined Flyers

page 29

Our London Letter
Britain's Streamlined Flyers

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.

Some Record-breaking Runs.

The gradual speeding-up of passenger trains services is a feature throughout the whole world of railways. Actually, Germany to-day possesses the world's fastest train, the record run being that of a Diesel railcar between Hamm and Hannover, the 110 miles being covered at an average speed of 85.7 m.p.h. The second fastest run in the world is on
Streamlined end, 4–6–2 locomotive “Dominion of New Zealand,” in L. & N.E.H. “Coronation Express” service, carrying New Zealand armorial bearings on cab.

Streamlined end, 4–6–2 locomotive “Dominion of New Zealand,” in L. & N.E.H. “Coronation Express” service, carrying New Zealand armorial bearings on cab.

the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Company, U.S.A., with a Diesel railcar run of 202 miles between La Junta and Dodge City, at an average speed of 83.7 m.p.h. Next to the German Hamm-Hannover achievement in Europe, comes a record run on the French State Railways, where a railcar maintains an average speed of 73.2 m.p.h. over the 55-mile section Havre-Rouen, This is followed in the speed table by the L. & N.E. “Coronation Express” 71.9 m.p.h. dash over the 188-mile London-York section; and by our old friend the “Cheltenham Flyer,” of the Great Western system, with its 71.4 m.p.h. run for the 77 miles separating Swindon and Paddington Station, London, Fast running, of course, is by no means the only criterion by which railway efficiency should be judged. Because one particular line happens to introduce a specially fast train, it does not necessarily follow that other systems are lacking in efficiency, although it does indicate that a real endeavour is being made to meet public requirements. Another point worth noting is that it is impossible to operate high-speed services unless the track, signalling arrangements, locomotives and rolling-stock are of a very high standard. As a general indication of railway progress, therefore, passenger train accelerations are to be welcomed.

Loading Road Motors for City delivery, Camden Town Goods Station, London, L.M. & S. Railway.

page 30
page 31
Winter on the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, Germany.

Winter on the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, Germany.

Electric Services in Britain.

While the Southern Railway provides us with no spectacular express runs, remarkable work is being accomplished on this line in the field of electrification. The recent commencement of regular electric services on the main-line to Portsmouth brought the total Southern electrified lines up to 539 miles. Of this, over 200 miles is main-line electrification, linking London with the south coast. Brighton and Worthing were the first resorts to be linked with the metropolis by electric trains, in 1933. The Eastbourne and Hastings connections date from 1935, and now the direct line between London and Portsmouth, via Guildford and Haslemere, has been converted from steam to electric traction.

Entirely new, rolling-stock has been provided for the new electrification. In all, 48 new 4-coach corridor motor units have been constructed in the railway shops at Eastleigh, as well as a number of 3-coach and 2-coach motor units. Portsmouth is served by a fast train every hour from Waterloo Station, London, together with two stopping trains every hour, and an additional hourly train during the business period. The new carriages forming the electric trains provide luxurious accommodation, the upholstery being in tasteful shades of blue, green and fawn. A special feature is an improved system of air-conditioning. The cooking is all-electric, electric refrigeration also being installed.

Combined Rail and Road Services.

Door-to-door transport in the completest sense of the term is a feature of goods department working at Home. Over increasingly wide areas combined rail and road service is being provided and within the past year the number of railheads in country districts from which railway-owned road services are operated has grown from 1,750 to 2,680. Inclusive rates are quoted to cover combined rail and road haulage, and the road services are so arranged as to connect with the appropriate rail service. Station-to-station traffics constitute a large proportion of railway business, but so convenient are the road motor services of the railways proving, that more and more traders are arranging their transport upon an inclusive basis, by taking advantage of the elaborate collection and delivery services of the four group lines.

Southern Railway new London-Portsmouth Electric Express.

Southern Railway new London-Portsmouth Electric Express.

Freight traffic of every kind may now be handled by railway-owned road service, for the stock of road vehicles maintained by the groups includes every conceivable type, ranging from light delivery vans to special floats for machinery, plate-glass, and so on. There are specially-designed road motors for cattle conveyance and for the movement of valuable racehorses, while the ordinary road motors are supplemented by “mechanical horses” and other ingenious appliances for particular purposes.

The Railways and Safety.

In Britain the railways, like those of New Zealand, make a wonderful showing from the viewpoint of safety. The report of the Ministry of Transport upon railway accidents in 1936 has recently been issued, and very creditable reading this makes. Summarised, the liability among passengers to mishap was one killed in every 582,000,000 conveyed; and one injured in every 3,500,000 carried. Three passengers were killed and 497 injured in train accidents. When one considers the continual slaughtering on the roads, small wonder the knowing traveller pins his faith to the safe an speedy “Iron Horse.”