The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 6 (September 1939)
Our London Letter
Railway and Air Co-ordination.
Co-Ordination of rail and road transport proceeds steadily throughout Britain, while the four group railways are also becoming increasingly interested in the movement of passengers and goods by sea and air. This month we have to record developments (of particular interest to New Zealand) associated with the opening in London, jointly by Imperial Airways and the Southern Railway, of a new railway station to house the special trains operating to and from the Empire Flying Base at Southampton. This station has every modern equipment in the way of waiting halls, refreshment facilities, luggage handling apparatus, and so on, and is situated adjacent to the Victoria terminal, world-famed for its many continental services. In addition to this new development, the Southern Railway has recently established, in cooperation with the Great Western, a new organisation, styled Great Western and Southern Air Lines, to provide air services in southern and southwestern England. The big air undertaking known as Railway Air Services Limited, in which the four group lines are largely interested, has throughout the summer been operating fast flights between London and all parts of the country. Among this year's improvements was the provision of a direct through service between London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. Four air services are provided daily between Liverpool, Manchester and London, one of these being especially popular as it makes a continental connection in the metropolis, enabling travellers to be in Paris before lunch.
Improved Signalling Arrangements.
Fast and frequent train services, such as are now the rule on all our main-lines, demand particularly efficient signalling equipment, and recently there have been introduced several important resignalling schemes on the Home railways. On the L. & N.E., extensions have been introduced on the colour-light signalling of the mainline between York and Darlington, and shortly the whole of this busy 45-mile length of track will be so equipped. By the L. M. & S. Company there has just been undertaken extensive signalling improvements in the Rugby area. This work involved the demolition of a very well-known signal gantry at Rugby, carrying 44 signal arms on 26 posts, the highest of which was 74 feet above ground. Situated at the south end of the station, this gantry has been replaced by two much smaller structures, carrying three groups of electric colour lights, twelve signals in all. For the first time in L. M. & S. use, there have been introduced directional light indicators to warn drivers of the route set up. On about two miles of track there have been installed 33 colour-light signals, controlled from six signal-boxes, the largest cabin being Rugby No. 1, with 180 levers. Rugby station handles 240 regular passenger trains daily, and the improved facilities have made it possible to quicken the acceptance of non-stop trains, the headway between which has been reduced from 7 to 5 minutes.
Another Railway Centenary.
New Maritime Station at Calais.
In the movement of passengers and freight between Britain and France, the Port of Calais has always been a main gateway. Readers of that masterpiece by Dumas, “The Three Musketeers,” will recall the wild dash from Paris to Calais which forms a feature of the story. Since those days, express trains and fast steamships have taken the place of the slower means of movement of D'Artigan's age, but Calais remains the principal northern entrance into France. At this busy port the French National Railways have opened this year a magnificent new Maritime Railway Station, which promises to aid enormously in the development of cross-Channel traffic. Work on the new terminus commenced in 1930, and among improvements effected are the widening and lengthening to 1,640 feet of the quay platform; the extension of the main passenger building; and the enlargement of the Customs hall. New and larger waiting rooms and offices have been installed, and passengers passing between ship and train are now completely protected from the weather. Five level crossings have also been replaced by bridges. The Port of Calais is one of the handiest of French gateways from the navigation viewpoint, and is famed for its facility for handling vessels during foggy weather. Something like 500,000 British travellers pass through Calais every year, and in co-operation with the Southern Railway of England, the French National Railways operate via Calais and Dover the shortest and quickest route between Paris and London, this being the well-known “Golden Arrow” daily daylight service.
Railway-owned Shipping Services.
The Home railways are among the largest steamship owners in the world, and on completion of three fine new railway vessels at present on the stocks, their combined fleet will number 130, with a gross registered tonnage of 176,145 tons, carrying crews totalling in the aggregate 2,805. The services operated form the principal links with the Continent, Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Wight, and the Scottish Western Isles. Sixteen services are actually owned and worked by the British railways to Ireland and Continental ports. The Southern Railway is responsible for services between Folkestone and Boulogne, Southampton and Havre, Southampton and St. Malo, Southampton and Jersey, and Jersey and St. Malo, in addition to the train-ferry services between Dover and Dunkirk. By the L. & N. E. Company there are worked the important mail services between Harwich and Hook of Holland, Harwich and Antwerp, and Harwich and Zeebrugge. The G. W. Railway operate services between Fishguard and Rosslare, and Fishguard and Waterford, linking Britain and Ireland, as well as to the Channel Islands via Weymouth. The L. M. & S. also operate some notable shipping services.