The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 5 (September 1, 1930)
Britain's Railways — Trains Which are the Envy of the World
Trains Which are the Envy of the World
The news that the Great Western Railway has installed Vita-Glass windows in the carriages of its long-distance trains comes as one more instance of the privileges which we as a nation enjoy, and which peoples of many other countries are denied. Our railways are the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and for all-round excellence of performance they easily stand alone (says the “Tourist”)
Nowhere in this world is it possible to travel so smoothly, so quickly and so safely as it is in this country, and probably nowhere in the world are railways so vilified and with less reason than in Britain!
The truth is that the British people, the majority of whom have little or no experience of foreign travel, do not appreciate their railways as they should do. Such trains as the Torbay Limited and the Royal Scot, for comfort, punctuality, speed and safety, stand almost alone amongst the world's great trains.
In the past few years the railways of this country have been faced by an intensive competition from the motor-coach companies and to some extent they have suffered. This latter form of transport has appealed to the travelling public, some of whom argue that the scenery of the countryside can be enjoyed much better from a motor-coach than from a train.
This is a debatable point. Our railway systems traverse some of the most beautiful stretches of country in Britain. Who could forget the glorious passage of Devon and Cornwall, of North Wales, of the Lake District, or Derbyshire.
A moment's consideration of the question of superiority between railway and motor-coach travel brings rather surprising results. As regards comfort, which is, of course, one of the primary considerations, the train most certainly has the advantage.
The wide corridors, comfortable compartments, and excellent restaurant cars of the modern long-distance train are, and must remain, unattainable on a motor-coach.
In the matter of speed, railways are again supreme, and in punctuality it must be remembered that “traffic blocks” are the prerogative of road users! In fares only are the motor-coaches really competitive.
This difference in fares, however, can be explained quite easily. The railway tracks of this country are admittedly the finest in the world, and vast sums of money are spent annually in keeping these to the required standard. The motor-coach proprietor has no responsibility of this kind, apart from his contribution to the Road Fund. He is forced, however, to take every road as he finds it. good or bad, to the consequent discomfort of his passengers on uneven surfaces.
Undoubtedly motor-coaches have their place in the transport undertakings of the country, and for short-distance travel they may by some be preferred to the railway. On the other hand, the railways should have little difficulty in holding the large majority of long-distance travellers.