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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5 (September 1, 1929)

Our London Letter

page 19

Our London Letter

In his current contribution our Special London Correspondent reviews recent railway developments in Britain and on the Continent, and gives some interesting particulars of the luxurious accommodation now placed at the disposal of holiday excursionists on the Home railways.

Luxury Travel for Summer Trippers

Summer holiday travel on an exceptionally big scale is this year being catered for by the railways of the Homeland. July, August and September are the months most favoured by the vacationist, and at this season family travel to the seaside looms large on every route. Cheap fares, fast and frequent train services, and, above all, the provision of most luxurious passenger accommodation, are features of this year's summer holiday programme. There probably never was a time when the holiday-maker was afforded such a wide choice of luxury accommodation as is the case to-day. To every resort of note, corridor, saloon and Pullman coaches are being operated, and it is now actually possible for the Londoner to make a day or even a half-day trip to the seaside and back by luxurious Pullman trains of a type hitherto reserved for the exclusive use of the traveller by the expensive “limited” services.

In this enterprising introduction of the Pullman car into excursion service a lead has been set by the L. and N. E. line. This system has embarked upon a great many Pullman services since the conclusion of the Great War, and these luxury services have proved most popular and remunerative. Pullman cars were, of course, first introduced on the American railways by George Mortimer Pullman, the Chicago coach-builder. The British Pullman organisation, established in 1874, is quite distinct from the American undertaking, and it is by arrangement with the Pullman Car Company of England that the Home railways now offer these luxurious cars to the public. The Southern Railway, or rather the various component parts of this railway prior to grouping, were the pioneers of the Pullman in Britain. The world-famous “Southern Belle” Pullman Limited between London and Brighton, introduced twenty years ago, was the embryo out of which have sprung the innumerable Pullman services which to-day are placed at the disposal of the traveller over the Home railways.

One million eight hundred thousand passengers are conveyed annually by Pullman service in Great Britain. Apart from the “Southern Belle” service, the Southern Railway operates Pullman cars between London and Hastings, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Ramsgate, and other holiday resorts, while an outstanding Pullman service is that between London and Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven, in connection with the Continental boat sailings. The “Golden Arrow Pullman,” between London and Dover, is one of the world's most famous trains, and it is operated in connection with the special limited Pullman train run by the Northern Railway of France between Calais and Paris. On the L. and N.E. line, luxury travel is provided by the “Queen of Scots” Pullman between London (King's Cross) and Glasgow, via Harrogate, Newcastle and Edinburgh; and the Pullman limited trains operated between London and Leeds, and London and Harwich. There is a complete service of Pullman trains page 20 in Scotland on the Caledonian section of the L.M. and S. Line; the Metropolitan Railway operate Pullman cars on the London-Aylesbury route, and in Ireland, a regular daily service of Pullman buffet cars is run between Dublin and south-western points.

Specialised Railway Publicity.

In seeking to attract the holiday-maker to the railway, the advertising departments of the Home railways have conducted most ambitious publicity campaigns during the past few months.
Holiday Time In The Homeland. A busy scene at Waterloo Station, London.

Holiday Time In The Homeland.
A busy scene at Waterloo Station, London.

Railway advertising has reached an exceptionally high standard at Home, and some of the posters now utilised on the station bill-boards and public hoardings are really very fine works of art. Recently a poster exhibition held in London by the L. and N.E. Railway afforded the general public an opportunity of inspecting, at close quarters, many of these gems of the poster producer's art. Attractive landscapes, marine studies and humorous works, all are pressed into service to draw the passenger to the rail route, and many novel methods of display are to-day followed by the leading railways. On the Southern line a new scheme for utilising advertising space at stations has recently been introduced. This plan includes the use of “banner” boards erected outside all the principal stations, on which are placed every month, specially-written sales posters directing attention to some specific attraction or facility which it is desired to accentuate. This may be a cheap trip to London, a new guide book, and so on, the essence of the scheme being that each poster is drawn up in particular relation to the district in which it is displayed. In addition, about 250 picked sites on platforms have been selected at points where passengers congregate, and on these sites have been erected special 4-sheet boards with an enamel plate heading “S.R. Monthly Bulletin.” On these boards there is displayed every month a fresh message to the public, penned on intimate lines. At points where country railway stations are situated off the main road, and are approached by a smaller road, small boards have been placed at the junction of the two roads, having a blackboard with a glass front. On the blackboard there are filled in with chalk, details concerning train services, excursions, and the like, of local interest. One of the greatest advantages enjoyed by the small road carrier is that he is in the closest touch with the local population page 21 he serves. It is with the idea of securing this intimacy with the local populations that the Southern Railway has introduced its new advertising plan.

Railways as Road Carriers.

While the Home railways are endeavouring to retain business to rail, they are also setting out on a big scale as road carriers. As month succeeds month, the number of motor omnibuses operated by the Home railways increases, and fresh agreements are being reached for joint operation with leading firms of road carriers.
Transporting Mails Underground. The route of the Post Office Tube Railway in London.

Transporting Mails Underground.
The route of the Post Office Tube Railway in London.

As yet, Britain cannot boast of any railway-owned coach stations such as are operated by certain of the American railways, for example, the enormous Forty-second Street Depot of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, in New York City. By degrees, however, a network of railway-owned road services is being built up throughout Britain, and the closest co-ordination is aimed at between rail and road. As a matter of fact, road transport was indulged in by the Home railways long before the menace of road competition was dreamt of. The Great Western Company was a pioneer of railway-owned motor services, its road transport department having been originally established a quarter of a century ago. The first road service to be operated was that between Helston and the Lizard, in Cornwall. To-day, the Great Western Railway operates sixty-two passenger services by road, the route mileage covered totalling 1,600. In a single year as many as 10,000,000 passengers are conveyed by these road services, and now that working partnerships are being concluded with outside road transport undertakings, the carryings by road vehicles operated by the Great Western Railway will materially increase. Road transport for both passenger and freight has definitely come to stay, and there is no agency better equipped to handle road business than the railway.

Speeding up Freight.

In the London area there have recently been opened out two new freight depots which promise to be of the greatest utility in the speeding up of merchandise handling. One of these stations is the Paddington depot of the Great Western, and the other the East Smithfield terminal page 22 of the L. and N.E. line. The new goods station at Paddington has fourteen main railway tracks, arranged in pairs, with a platform 600 feet long between each pair. Between the main warehouse there is an underground store with an area of 3,500 square yards, fed by electric lifts from the warehouse above. Mobile petrol-electric cranes ensure freedom from obstruction on the benches, and mechanically propelled trolleys are employed for moving miscellaneous freight along the platforms. At the new station there can be handled annually anything up to 700,000 tons of traffic, there being at present roughly 330 loaded wagons inwards and 400 loaded wagons outwards daily. The new East Smithfield depot of the L. and N.E. line is intended exclusively for the handling of butter, bacon and similar produce from the Continent. It is located in the heart of the London produce market area, and is a three-storey depot of modern design. Loaded wagons arrive on the middle floor of the warehouse. Traffic intended for immediate delivery to the city is lowered through shafts to the floor below, where it is transferred to waiting motor trucks. Traffic for storage passes to the floor above by electric lifts. This convenient arrangement naturally enormously simplifies handling problems, and reduces very considerably the working costs.

Luxury Travel In England. Interior of First Class Pullman Car on the “Queen of Scots” Express.

Luxury Travel In England.
Interior of First Class Pullman Car on the “Queen of Scots” Express.

State Railways of Central Europe.

Germany, Austria, and the other central European lands, are making real progress in railway development these days, and the success which is attending the recently favoured arrangement of operating most of the central European railway systems as State concerns, run on essentially commercial lines, is most marked. In Austria the Federal Railways were placed upon a commercial basis with a view to putting them on a sound financial footing. The result has been most striking. Under the old arrangement in 1923 there was a deficit on railway operation of about £1,792,684. In 1927 the financial results showed a surplus of about £4,500 in favour of the railway management, so marked were the improved working methods introduced in the new regime. Austria, by the way, is fast developing a nation-wide electric railway system second to none in Europe. Since 1920 some 390 miles of track have been electrified, one of the most notable achievements being the conversion to electric traction of the mountainous Innsbruck-Arlberg route in the Austrian Tyrol. The Austrian Government Railways are some 3,650 miles in length, and in view of the strategical position occupied by Austria as the centre of Europe, the railways of the land play a big part in international transport across the Continent.

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“Where shining waters move among the trees.”

A charming scene on the Karamea River, Nelson Province, New Zealand.

A charming scene on the Karamea River, Nelson Province, New Zealand.