The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)
AhappyNew Year to all! Railwaymen the world over may look back with satisfac-faction on their efforts during 1938. Here in Britain the railways have by no means regained their one-time prosperity, yet bearing in mind the trials and troubles of the past months, our four big transportation systems have made a really admirable showing, and as the New Year develops one and all anticipate more prosperous times. The year that has just drawn to a close will be remembered as one in which the main effort of the railways was concentrated on the speeding-up of both passenger and freight train services. The extended utilisation by the European lines of road transport was another worth-while feature; container movement showed a praiseworthy expansion; while electrification made marked progress in many lands. Streamlined passenger trains have definitely come to stay, these mostly being of the light-weight type. Railcars, too, have a most hopeful future.
Freight business, which dropped off heavily in the latter half of 1938, is now picking up in Britain. Very striking is the progress made in freight handling methods, first and foremost among the improvements effected being the introduction of large numbers of fast goods trains, giving a next day delivery wherever possible. These trains run at average speeds of from 40 to 45 m.p.h., and many cover journeys of over 100 miles non-stop. Container transport has filled a long-felt want. In 1928, the Home railways had 1,574 railroad containers in use. Today, 14,000 containers of various types are in service. Road motor collection and delivery services have grown apace in both city and rural areas. Some 3,000 country stations now enjoy the benefits of these rail-road links. The last few years, too, have seen vast sums of money expended with good results on new warehouses and warehouse equipment. New and more commodious marshalling yards also have been opened at suitable points. The goods wagon stocks of the four groups have been well maintained, and so far this season there has been no serious wagon shortage. Several interesting new types of truck have recently been introduced. On the Great Western, a type of ventilated box car with slotted gauze-covered ends and sides has been provided for the movement of fruit and vegetables. Shock-absorbing wagons are another introduction by the G.W. and L. M. & S. Companies. On the L. and N.E. line orders are now in hand for 1,000 new covered wagons for the conveyance of fish from East Coast ports. The same system, also, is building in its own shops an interesting type of trolley wagon, designed to carry a load of 120 tons. This design is intended for use in the movement of heavy machinery without transhipment to continental destinations by way of the Harwich-Zeebrugge train-ferry.