The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7 (October 2, 1939)
Our London Letter
Locomotive Building Programme.
For main-line, long-distance haulage the trusty “Iron Horse” continues the most favoured power unit on the majority of the world's railways. In the railway locomotive works at Home there is at present marked activity in the production of new and more efficient steam engines, and a tour of the shops of the four groups–situated at Crewe, Doncaster, Swindon and Eastleigh respectively—provides abundant proof of the belief of the administrations that better days lie ahead. Week by week, railway revenues are steadily creeping up, and this improvement in business is a most heartening feature.
At our largest locomotive shops–those of the London, Midland & Scottish Company, at Crewe—there are being constructed twenty new streamlined locomotives of the “Princess Coronation” class, all named after cities on the L.M. & S. system. These engines are 74 feet long, and their weight in working order is about 165 tons. The tenders carry 10 tons of coal and 4,000 gallons of water. Painted in standard L.M. & S. red, with horizontal gold bands, they are being introduced into express working on the Anglo-Scottish main-lines immediately after being run in. From the equally famous Doncaster works of the L. & N.E. Company, come new locomotives of the V.2, 2–6-2 “Green Arrow” type, designed for mixed traffic working. The first three of these carry the names, “King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry,” “Durham School” and “Coldstreamer.” Swindon has recently turned out six new 4–6-0 engines of the “Grange” class, for working on the G.W. main-lines; while in the Eastleigh shops the Southern has been busy adopting a number of modifications to its 4–6-0 “Lord Nelson” class locomotives, including 6 ft. 3 in. driving wheels in place of 6 ft. 7 in. wheels for No. 859, “Lord Hood”; a boiler with a lengthened barrel for No. 860, “Lord Hawke”; and a larger boiler with a combustion chamber added to the firebox for No. 857, “Lord Howe.” In order to increase the steaming capacity of these locomotives, the smokebox arrangements have also been altered by fitting multiple-jet blast pipe caps and single double-coned chimneys of large internal diameter.
Close of the Holiday Season.
The summer holiday season now draws to a close in Britain, and the group railways may well look back on the season's achievements with pride. Apart from the enormous number of excursion trains operated over all the main-lines, remarkable accelerations of ordinary passenger trains were everywhere the order of the day. In the summer time-tables of the L.M. & S. provision was made for the speedingup of no fewer than 110 trains, while among the services placed at the disposal of holiday-makers by this line were sixty-seven trains covering 6,883 miles daily at average start-tostop speeds of 60 m.p.h. or over. The additional holiday services of the L. & N.E. Railway involved the running of 1,276,120 miles weekly. On this line, trains like the “Flying Scotsman,” the “Scarborough Flyer” and the “Coronation” Express were regularly duplicated and triplicated out of King's Cross, while many branch-line servies, discontinued during winter and spring, were specially restored for the benefit of holiday-makers. Ever a popular holiday line, the Great Western summer services included the running of 800 additional express trains on week-days and 600 on Sundays. Twenty-five of these trains covered 2,075 miles daily at speeds of a mile a minute or over. More and faster main-line trains were operated to the West Country by the Southern throughout the holiday period. That most popular of all Southern holiday services—the “Atlantic Coast Express” —regularly ran in five parts every Saturday from Waterloo Station, London, to Devon and Cornwall.
Brighter Passenger Coaches.
The Southern Railway has for some time operated the largest suburban electrification of any railway in the world. The latest development on this system is the conversion to electricity of the four stretches of track in Kent from Gravesend to Gillingham; Strood to Maidstone West; Swanley to Rochester; and Otford to Maidstone East. This electrification completes the ambitious scheme which comprised the Eastbourne, the Portsmouth No. 1, the Portsmouth No. 2 (Littlehampton, etc.), and the Reading extensions, and adds another 54 route miles—making a total of 702 route miles—to the Southern electrification. For the new services, some 152 coaches have been put into working, and greatly accelerated services have become possible—a most desirable thing in this busy metropolitan area. Between London and Chatham, via Strood, passenger trains have been increased from 40 to 49 daily, and the average journey time reduced from 76 to 69 minutes. Between London and Maidstone West, trains have been increased from 24 to 43 daily, and average time cut from 106 to 93 minutes. Equally striking improvements have followed electrification on the London-Chatham, via Swanley, and London-Maidstone East routes An interesting point about the coaches employed in the new electric services is the provision of duplicated periscopes, which allow of signals being observed by the guard when travelling in either direction These are called for because the width of the stock prevents the use of the usual side look-outs.
Some Impressive Figures.
Freight traffic now commences to loom large on the Home railways. Last year the four groups conveyed some 254,496,000 tons of freight, equivalent to 52 tons per head of the population. The distance covered by goods trains in a year aggregates 133,440,000 miles, while the average length of haul equals 58 miles. Average net freight train load is between 120 and 130 tons, and the average revenue to the railways for hauling a ton of goods for a mile is approximately lid. Some 1,250,000 wagons are in service, and there are 6,908 goods stations throughout 50,555 miles of railway lines. The average wagon load of traffic at starting points is between 5 and 8 tons, but the largest railway wagon in service can carry a load of 150 tons, spread over 56 wheels; 50,000 special wagons have been built to carry particular types of traffic, and more than 45,000 railway vehicles are in use with capacities of 20 tons and over. The largest covered goods station in Britain—and incidentally in the world—is at Bristol (Temple Meads), and the biggest group of sorting sidings in the country is at Whitemoor, in Cambridgeshire, on the L. & N. E. system. Nearly 700 regular express freight trains run every 24 hours at speeds of 40 and 45 m.p.h. These, of course, are in addition to the ordinary freight trains and pickups. Railway cartage services have been extended to 10,367 parcel and goods motor vehicles, and there are also 11,163 railway horses and 24,823 railway horse-vehicles. Country lorr services connecting railway centres with outlying country districts are now operated from 2,822 stations, while there are in regular service 15,521 containers of all types. Container movement, it may be noted, has increased by no less than 41 per cent. compared with five years ago.