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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)

Our London Letter

page 22

Our London Letter

Railway Progress In 1938

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.

New Deepwater Quay at Southern Railway Docks, Southampton.

New Deepwater Quay at Southern Railway Docks, Southampton.

Changes in Central Europe.

Great changes continue to be made to the railway map of Europe. The Austrian Federal Railways have ceased to exist as a separate system, and have been swallowed up in the German National Railways, many elaborate reorganisation schemes having been brought into play. The latest development is the replacement on the Austrian lines of the sleeping and refreshment cars of the International Sleeping Car Company by those of the Mitropa undertaking. The International Company is a Belgian concern, while the Mitropa is a German firm. In Czechoslovakia severe pruning of the railway system has followed the handing over of territory to Germany, Hungary and Poland. Prague continues the head-quarters of the Czech lines, but the inflated railway system which arose out of the Treaty of Versailles is now no more. All these changes in Central Europe naturally affect long-distance train services as well as local, and at the present time the various railway organisations are busy working out new routes and new regulations concerning the running of many of the regular cross-European expresses.

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(Photo., Emit, London) Florence-Bologna electrified tracks, Italian State Railways.

(Photo., Emit, London)
Florence-Bologna electrified tracks, Italian State Railways.

Train Speeds in France.

Passenger train speeds on the continent of Europe continue to improve. France, in particular, has made tremendous progress in this direction, while maintaining an enviable reputation for safety. Two typical mainlines illustrating recent accelerations are those between Paris and Lyons, and Paris and Bordeaux. From Paris to Lyons, on the P.L.M. system, is a distance of 318 miles. This is covered to-day in 4 hours 50 minutes. On the 365 1/2 miles run from Paris to Bordeaux, the journey time has been cut to 5 hours 44 minutes. Some very fine fast runs with heavy steam trains are found on the Northern Railway, between Paris and Calais, over which route there is operated the world-famous “Golden Arrow” Pullman, providing the shortest and quickest connection between the French and English capitals. Actually, the two fastest timings in regular daily service on the French railways are those of the “Sud Express,” which covers the 70 miles between Poitiers and Angouleme in exactly one hour; and a 68 m.p.h. run from Valence to Avignon. Railcars attain high speeds in daily service on the principal French lines. The Paris-Longeau daily run at 76 1/2 m.p.h., and the 73 m.p.h. flight between Paris and Nancy are two typical timings.

A Luxury Boat Train.

With more settled conditions on the continent, travel between Britain and the mainland of Europe promises to increase very markedly during the coming months. One of the most popular routes to the continent is that operated by the L. & N.E. Railway by way of the port of Harwich. A new luxury boat train, the “Hook Continental,” was recently introduced between Liverpool Street Station, London, and Harwich, running in connection with the railway steamer sailings to and from Holland. The train consists of eleven carriages, having seats for 84 first and 240 second-class passengers, and two Pullman seating 44 first-class passengers. Most of the carriages are of the saloon type, but by a clever arrangement of seats a considerable degree of privacy is assured. Each section in the first-class coaches seats four passengers on revolving chairs which, with specially-designed tables, enable the occupants either to sit facing the table during meals, or to turn away from the table at other times. In the second-class sections, seats for six passengers are provided. The train is electrically lit throughout, and all cooking is performed by electricity. Air-conditioned and sound-proofed, the “Hook Continental” leaves London every evening conveying passengers for all European centres.

Britain's Railway-owned Ports.

Harwich is but one of the many railway-owned ports scattered around our coasts.
Express Railcar, French National Railways.

Express Railcar, French National Railways.

The biggest railway port from the viewpoint of passenger traffic is Southampton, where the docks are owned and operated by the Southern Railway. Southampton Docks have just celebrated their centenary, the Southampton Docks Company having been established in 1838, and rail connection with London secured in 1840. Cross-Atlantic services have, of course, for many years been a feature of the port, but in recent times there has been a welcome increase in the New Zealand trade, for which the Southern Railway provide special services in the way of cold storage and so on. After the formation of the Southern Group in 1923, the new owners spent enormous sums on improvements and enlargements, these including the provision of the largest dry-dock in the world.

Educational Railway Films.

Exhibitions of educational and instructional films produced by the L. M. and S. Railway film organisation this winter are being attended by more than 100,000 members of the company's staff. The film units are making a tour of the system, involving exhibitions at 200 different points, and the travelling of approximately 20,000 miles. In the larger centres the films are shown in halls and institutes, while the more remote parts of the line are reached by mobile film units—cinemas on wheels having a theatre capacity of fifty persons per vehicle. Three of these mobile units are in constant use, and five new films have been prepared for the current tour. These cover such subjects as the repair and overhaul of an express steam locomotive at Crewe; scientific research in the railway laboratory at Derby; handling holiday traffic; and the daily work in a locomotive running shed.

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