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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 2 (May 1, 1940.)

Our London Letter

page 21

Our London Letter

The Railways “Deliver the Goods.”

Smoothly and efficiently the Home railways continue to carry on. Railway transport is essential in peace and vital in war, and it is in very fine fashion our railwaymen keep on “delivering the goods.” Admiration is almost everywhere expressed of the wonderful work of the group lines, and, although passenger trains have in certain cases been withdrawn and running speeds reduced, it is recognised that these slight inconveniences are inevitable to enable the railways to concentrate on the major task before them—that of handling swiftly and silently the enormous Government business of every kind. The heavy official demands made upon the railways may well be imagined. The job of moving men and supplies for the Navy, Army and Air Force is a prodigious task in itself. Then there is the enormous volume of traffic in and out of the munition works. Since the beginning of the war, contracts have been placed by the Government for guns, shells and equipment to the value of £234,000,000; a score of new ordnance factories have been constructed; and the premises of three hundred individual armament suppliers extended. It is no exaggeration to say that the Home railways play a vital role in every major and minor action in which our Forces engage, and it is with pride and confidence railwaymen continue to do their bit in liberty's struggle.

Important Financial Agreement.

With considerable satisfaction was the news received of the financial agreement come to between the Government, the four group railways and the London Passenger Transport Board in respect of the war-time control of the undertakings. The arrangement provides for the operation of the railways under unified control on an economic basis, with appropriate payment for all Government traffic handled. The main clauses set out that the receipts and expenses of the controlled railways shall be pooled. Out of this pool, the railways are to receive annual payments equivalent, as regards the trunk lines, to the average of their net revenue for the three years 1935, 1936 and 1937; and as regards the London Transport Board, to its net revenue for the twelve months ending June 30, 1939. These payments, totalling approximately £40,000,000, are guaranteed by the Government. Should the amount in the pool exceed these guaranteed net revenues, it is provided that the railways shall retain in full the first £3,500,000 of excess: beyond that sum, the Government will take one-half of the net revenue until the point is reached where the railways arrive at their standard revenues, after which the Government acquire the whole of the balance in the pool. The agreement provides for standardising charges for maintenance, for dealing with the problem of war damage, and for bringing the receipts and expenses arising from
“Carrying On”: A typical Railway War-time Poster in Britain.

“Carrying On”: A typical Railway War-time Poster in Britain.

the requisitioning of privately-owned wagons within the pool. There are also provisions covering the adjustment of conveyance rates, fares and charges to meet variations in war-time working costs.

An Interesting Railway Wagon.

Out-of-gauge and exceptional loads continue to be conveyed in large numbers over the Home lines. Recently, there has come to light interesting facts concerning a “veteran” special wagon owned by the L. M. & S. Company, which—for the third time since it was constructed at Derby 56 years ago—is helping the Home Front in war. Specially designed for the movement of armour plates, marine boilers, anchors, transformers and turbine castings, this 40-tons trolley wagon was so sturdily constructed, and has been so effectively maintained and modernised from time to time, that, although built in 1884, it is still carrying big loads just as effectively page 22 page 23 as its modern sisters. Lms. “Btz” Trolley No. 10018—to give the truck its official title—had the distinction of transporting parts and machinery for Britain's first large battleship, H.M.S. Dreadnought. It carried naval machinery and munitions during the South African War and the 1914–1918 struggle: in recent years it has been carrying big electrical equipment for the nation-wide “Grid,” and is now doing its bit for the third time in war. Btz 10018 is, indeed, an “exceptional” wagon in every sense of the word. Some 37 1/2 feet in length, it runs on eight wheels, and weighs 25 1/2 tons without a load.

Increased Use of Railcars.

Railcar movement of passenger traffic is everywhere on the increase. In Britain we have railcars of many types in daily service, and on the Great Western system considerable use is made of Diesel units. Prior to the outbreak of war, the G.W. Company had 18 Diesel railcars in traffic, covering a route mileage of 747, in an area enclosed by Birmingham, Weymouth, London and Swansea. To-day, the first of a further 20 cars ordered some time ago is being introduced into service. The first G.W. car, working in the Reading-Slough district, was fitted with a single six-cylinder oil engine. It seats 69 passengers, and has a maximum speed of 60 m.p.h. July, 1934, saw the introduction of two express railcars between Birmingham and Cardiff. These have twin engines with a maximum speed of 75 m.p.h. Some 44 passengers are carried, and the cars include buffet accommodation. In 1935, three more cars similar to the first, but with twin engines, were introduced in Oxford and Worcestershire. In the following year, ten similar cars were acquired, nine for passengers and one for parcels movement. Of the two cars completing the original stock of 18, one—introduced in 1937—had a lower gear ratio and standard buffers and drawgear, enabling it to handle a trailing load of 60 tons. The new batch of twenty cars now being acquired embody in their design the experience gained from the running of the trailer-haulage unit. It is the intention to replace the cars at present in the Birmingham-Cardiff service by two twin-car Diesel sets with remote control, enabling one man to drive the two cars. Buffets of improved design will be incorporated, and there will be seating accommodation for 104 passengers. Maximum speed will be 70 m.p.h. Incidentally, these Birmingham-Cardiff vehicles pass en route through the famous Severn Tunnel, and to provide warning of their approach to the tunnel maintenance gangs the cars are fitted with four horns at each end.

Some Useful Suggestions.

For some years the Home railways have given every encouragement to their staffs to put forward suggestions for more efficient and economical working. War-time conditions apparently have actually given a stimulus to these suggested schemes, and many excellent ideas put forward by employees to-day are proving most helpful. One suggestion advanced by an L. M. & S. man recently was for the damming of a brook which runs through a railway works, in order to provide an auxiliary water supply of approximately 180,000 gallons for A.R.P. purposes. Another worth-while suggestion was for using white rags, instead of sponge-cloths, for the cleaning of carriage brasswork; and a third idea was for the recovery of sponge-cloths and tying them together to make mops. Numerous ideas have been thought out and adopted for saving the use of goods wagons, which are in great demand for war-time service. One L. M. & S. employee put forward in this connection a detailed proposal for the erection of an incinerator, to avoid wagons being kept regularly on hand for the loading of refuse. Many suggestions advanced in respect of some minor aspect of local working are ultimately found to be worth applying to the whole system. Every suggestion made by L. M. & S. men,
“Boys of the Old Brigade,” on the L.M. and S. Railway.

“Boys of the Old Brigade,” on the L.M. and S. Railway.

whether practicable or otherwise, is acknowledged by a letter of thanks, and where suggestions are adopted leading to greater economy or efficiency, or both, monetary awards are made.

British Railway Engines in France.

Home railway workers who saw Active Service in the 1914–1918 conflict are eagerly carrying on their duties on the line, while their younger colleagues do their bit in the Army, Navy or Air Force. Tin hats rest easily on the heads of these veterans, whose example and experience count for so much. Talking of railway veterans brings to mind the considerable number of Home railway locomotives which saw service abroad during the last war, and are again included in the stock of engines hauling our military trains in France. Each of the group railways has furnished locomotives for use overseas, and the case of the Great Western line may be taken as typical. This line is sending in all 100 locomotives across the Channel, and included in this contribution are 26 engines which served overseas in 1914–1918. Most of the G. W. machines affected are of the 2301 standard goods class. They are of the 0-6-0 tender type, with coupled 5ft. 2in. wheels, and a tractive effort of 18,140 lbs. Peculiarly suited to overseas conditions, some 62 of these locomotives went overseas in the last war, the bulk going to France and Salonica.

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