Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1 (April 1, 1940)

In the Driver's Cab — Impressions Of A Night Journey

In the Driver's Cab
Impressions Of A Night Journey

I Stood in the driver's cab of a standard railcar as she ran swiftly on through the night. I had just passed from the well-lit car where the passengers were lounging, reading and playing cards as they sped towards their goal at more than a mile a minute. They hadn't a care. To them travelling consisted of stepping into the car as it drew up beside a platform and making themselves comfortable until it pulled into their destination, but sitting beside me now was the man in whose care they were. He gave not the slightest sign of how he regarded this responsibility. He sat in silence, his hands resting on the simple controls, his eyes glued to the track where the great white beam, turned slightly to the right to pick up the mile and chainage posts, lit it up with the brightness of day.

There was no doubting his knowledge of the line. Long before a curve could be seen he had eased the throttle back so that that there was no need for sudden braking. A slight sway and we were round, the throttle went forward again, and the speedometer needle crept back to 60. As we rounded one curve a dim yellow light could be seen ahead, and beyond it a green. The guard put out the tablet, we flashed beneath the yellow light, the green, clicked through the points, the new tablet clashed home, a blur of light, another set of points, and we were on the open line again. Behind us I knew the porter was ringing the next station to advise that we were
(Rly. Publicly photo.) The standard railcar, Tokomaru.

(Rly. Publicly photo.)
The standard railcar, Tokomaru.

coming, but to all appearances we were a world apart, a coterie of travellers rushing through the night with their safety in the hands of one man, the driver. This thought made me look at him again, but he was as imperturbable as ever, giving no sign of his thoughts.

We were climbing now and the buzz of the engines became a whine as he switched in the converter. Up a grade where steam trains hiss, snort and struggle, we did an easy 20 m.p.h. Through a deep cutting and we were over the top, on our way down the other side. There was hardly a tremor in the car as we swept round the long curves and ran roaring out across a viaduct on to the long straight beyond. We were going faster now, as mile after mile the parallel metals ribboned into the headlamp as we hurtled through the gloom. Far away on our left could be seen the twin lamps of a motor car and occasional pin pricks of light showed some farm-house set back from the line.

Then I saw a cluster of lights in the distance, and against the black of the night rising columns of white smoke could be dimly discerned. Groups of red lights with our solitary green in their midst came into view, and soon we were gliding through the points to pull up alongside the platform. The passengers gathered up their belongings and descended. The driver sat and waited to take her back to the shed. For me it had been a thrilling experience; for him … just another trip.

page 48