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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 3 (June 1, 1939)

Our London Letter

page 25

Our London Letter

Greetings to Royalty.

New Zealand folk are following with especial interest the tour of King George and Queen Elizabeth across Canada and through the Eastern States of America. Railwaymen throughout the Dominion join those of the Homeland in their expression of loyalty to the Throne and all it stands for, while to their colleagues on the railways of that other great bulwark of individual freedom—the United States—they again extend their very warmest greetings. The trip across the Land of the Maple Leaf, and southwards to New York and the American capital of Washington, is proving a wonderful experience indeed for the royal pair. Here's sending our sincerest thanks to liberty-loving American railroadmen for their whole-hearted co-operation in this historic friendly pilgrimage.

Summer Time-tables.

Summer-time approaches in Britain, and the new season's passenger train time-tables show additional and accelerated services all over the country. Actually, to cater for the growing holiday business, the four group lines are running trains with seating accommodation for 2,500,000 passengers simultaneously. They are operating some 773 restaurant and buffet cars; 21,500 motive power units—steam locomotives, electric motors, and oil railcars; and 130 steamships with an aggregate of 176,145 gross registered tons. Fifty-three large railway hotels are at the disposal of tourists, and greatly reduced fares of all kinds are available to meet every need.

Let us take a peep at the new passenger time-table of one line—the London, Midland & Scottish—as typifying the general enterprise of our railways. The L.M. & S. are now speeding-up all main-line services, and there are no fewer than 66 express-trains on this system timed at start-to-stop speeds of 60 m.p.h. or over, representing a daily aggregate of nearly 7,000 miles. Altogether, 482 trains have been accelerated, representing a daily total saving of 1,276 minutes. A notable feature is the acceleration of the north-bound “Royal Scot” to cover the 299.1 miles from Euston to Carlisle non-stop in 299 minutes, the winter time of 7 hours 20 minutes from London to Glasgow being reduced to 7 hours. In the reverse direction, the Glasgow-London “Royal Scot” runs through without a passenger stop, only a brief halt being made outside Carlisle to change enginemen. In this case the overall journey time of 7 hours shows a saving of 25 minutes over the winter schedule. Sunday service improvements are a feature on all the Home lines. On the L.M. & S. a noteworthy step is the betterment of Sunday rail services north of the Border, the two Glasgow stations, Buchanan Street and St. Enoch, being specially opened for this purpose. This month, too, sees great activity among the steamship fleets of the L.M. & S. Regular sailings are being resumed on Lake Windermere, in the beautiful English Lake District; while steamship trips commence on the Clyde Coast, and on the charming Scottish Lochs—Lomond, Tay and Awe.

New passenger station at Malden Manor, Southern Railway London suburban lines.

New passenger station at Malden Manor, Southern Railway London suburban lines.

Improvement Works in Progress.

To detail a complete list of the big improvement plans of the Home railways would occupy many pages of this magazine. Reconstruction of passenger and goods stations is proceeding all over the country; electrification progresses on the L. & N.E. Company between Manchester and Sheffield, and in the London suburban zone, on the G.W. London suburban tracks, and on various sections of the Southern system. One of the biggest works just completed is the £500,000 improvement scheme of the G.W. Company at Old Oak Common carriage depot, 3 ¼ miles from Paddington. This is now the largest passenger train marshalling yard in Britain. It covers, with its locomotive sheds, more than 100 acres, and handles daily, about 2,000 passenger coaches and 450 locomotives. The staff number approximately 1,700. The reconstruction has been proceeding for five years. Principal among the tasks performed at the depot is the handling of all empty coaches forming the incoming trains making use of Paddington, and their reforming for outward working. Actually, there are some 15 miles of sidings within the depot; 75 carriage roads, all page 26 page 27
Brunel's flat-arch brick bridge carrying G.W.R. main line across the Thames at Maidenhead. (Each arch has a span of 128 ft.).

Brunel's flat-arch brick bridge carrying G.W.R. main line across the Thames at Maidenhead. (Each arch has a span of 128 ft.).

perfectly straight to simplify shunting; 30 roads (1,000ft. in length) in the carriage sheds, which cover twice the area of Paddington terminus; 5 signal boxes; a 70ft. turntable; a loudspeaker system to expedite shunting operations; an automatic telephone exchange with seventy points through the depot; spacious carriage shops; flood-lighting equipment, with an alternative system for use during foggy weather; separate up and down carriage lines for empty stock working between Paddington and the depot, and up-to-date offices and mess-rooms for the staff.

Securing New Business.

All the Home railways have wisely developed their “selling” side in recent years. There is now none of that short-sighed “take it or leave it” attitude in handling prospective patrons, courtesy being regarded as an essential to efficient service. On the Southern system great success has attended the running of a “Sales League,” which fosters the team spirit, and encourages one and all to secure new business for the line. Challenge shields and money awards are given annually for the best efforts of stations and individuals respectively, and a noteworthy feature of the campaign has been the interest it has aroused among the non-traffic grades. One naturally expects, say, a booking-clerk or a stationmaster, to seek additional business, but it is indeed encouraging to learn of extreme keenness to obtain traffic on the part of shop workers, signalmen, and other grades not in direct touch with the public. A passenger porter at one Southern suburban station last year succeeded in securing business to the value of over £200. A motor, driver at another station was responsible for securing pleasure party traffic to the value of £210. This is the sort of effort to be commended, and it is playing a big part in the restoration to the railways of their one-time prosperity.

Educational Excursions.

The four group railways of Britain are always sympathetically interested in youthful desires for education and advancement. A feature of passenger operation nowadays (educational excursions of various kinds) are warmly supported by the youth of the country. A few typical examples along these lines may be of interest. Not long ago the L. & N.E. operated a special long-distance excursion, conveying 150 boy scouts from London on a 1,000-mile tour of England and Scotland. The train consisted of sleeping-cars, dining-cars and kitchens, and every scout was provided
Central passenger station, Pennsylvania Railway, New York City.

Central passenger station, Pennsylvania Railway, New York City.

with three good meals a day prepared by the restaurant car chefs. To transform the train into a complete travelling camp, a tuck-shop, cinema car and recreation car were also provided. Various scenic resorts were visited in turn, there was a climb of Britain's highest mountain—Ben Nevis—and the tour also included visits to chemical and steel works, and a seaside camp near Captain Cook's old home at Whitby, in Yorkshire. On the L.M. & S. system, there was recently run a special train from London to Crewe, where 600 schoolboys, members of the Crusaders' Union, went over the famous locomotive shops. By the same company there was organised a tour for university students from Cambridge, covering visits to the locomotive depots at Derby, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, as well as the inspection of railway works at Glasgow and elsewhere. Throughout the summer months, all the railways will be running interesting educational excursions and rambles under the guidance of experienced leaders, special trains being run for boys’ clubs, associations, rovers, scouts and other youth movements.

Ireland as a Holiday Haunt.

Ireland has again come into favour as a popular holiday haunt, and both the G.W. and L.M. & S. Railways are expecting big business this summer in connection with their Anglo-Irish services, the Holyhead-Dublin and Fishguard-Rosslare routes being chiefly concerned. The L.M. & S. steamers from Holyhead—linked up with London by the “Irish Mail”—take the traveller speedily and in comfort to Dublin, where rail connection is available with all corners of the country, the Great Southern, Ireland's largest railway, having its headquarters in the capital city.

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