The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 7 (December 1, 1930)
Our London Letter
Our London Letter
“Here's hearty Christmas greetings to reader friends, old and new, in all corners of New Zealand. May good cheer and good fellowship surround you this Christmastide, and your cup of happiness be filled brimful throughout the festive season.”—Our London Correspondent.
A Memorable Railway Centenary Celebration.
The year that now draws to a close has been one of real progress in the railway industry throughout the world, and for the Home railways 1930 has also been a year of great historic significance. As previously noted in these letters the Home railways have recently celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of that great pioneer line, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, whereon Stephen-son's “Rocket” locomotive made secure the foundations of steam haulage. Not for many years will the festivities associated with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway centenary be forgotten, for all Liverpool made holiday in celebration of the affair, and by the Corporations of Liverpool and Manchester and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, there was produced a colourful pageant of transport on really unique lines, entailing a cast of 3,500 men and women, together with camels, elephants, dog teams, horses and specially built models of hundreds of types of vehicles, representative of every age and country.
This ambitious pageant included sections depicting Egyptian transport in the days of Cleopatra; Spanish transport of Don Quixote's time; an episode depicting a Red Indian attack on a covered wagon convoy; the hold-up of a stage-coach by highwaymen in approved Dick Turpin style; events in the building of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway; and a fine show representing the opening of the pioneer line on September 15, 1830. In addition to the pageant, there was opened, for public inspection, the most comprehensive railway exhibition ever assembled, while a fine display of modern locomotives and rolling stock from many lands provided yet another attractive feature of the celebrations.
Advantages of the Grouping System.
The London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which includes in its system the Liverpool and Manchester line of 1830, is the largest of the Home railway groups. It owns some 19,700 passenger carriages and 300,000 goods wagons, and serves a very large area of England, Scotland and Wales. The L.M. and S. Railway has effected considerable economies through grouping, notably in locomotive, carriage and wagon building and repairing. Through the introduction of better machinery and more scientific working methods, as well as through standardisa- page 22 tion, shop costs have been cut considerably.
Prior to grouping, each of the hundred odd railways of Britain maintained locomotive and carriage and wagon shops of their own, in which they performed all necessary repairs and renewals, as well as much new construction. The methods of operation differed greatly in the different shops, and hundreds of varying types of locomotives, carriages and wagons were favoured by the different systems. Today, many of the smaller shops have been closed down, and the four group lines have centred their shop activities in a relatively small number of works situated at suitable points. Locomotive types have been cut to a minimum, and through standardisation and labour-saving methods valuable economies in time and money have been effected.
Efficient Methods in the Home Workshops.
In a recent paper read at the Institute of Transport Congress in Glasgow, Mr. E. H. Lemon, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the L.M. and S. Railway, outlined the effects of grouping on the railway shops, and told of the reorganisation and standardisation effected on his own system. In the past, if a gang of men engaged on repairing carriages was unable to proceed with the work (owing to waiting for component parts), the men would transfer their labour to other vehicles until the required material was forthcoming, and would then return to finish the job. This resulted in carriages taking up valuable space without any work being done to them. With the growth in numbers and the total average length of the modern carriage, it became necessary either to increase the shop area and the staff or devise some quicker means of dealing with the cars passing through the shops. To meet this development, a progressive layout was planned by the L.M. and S. Company for the lifting and repairing of carriages. Definite principles were followed, the chief being the elimination, as far as possible, of manhandling of materials; allocating definite work to a given position; supply of materials to be anticipated; the allocation of men to specific operations; the first operation to balance with the last; and all movements to be regular and at definite intervals.
The system of repairs adopted on the L.M. and S. line enables work on all carriages in the shops to be carried out simultaneously. The carriages are selected according to the class of repairs required, and placed on roads outside the repair shop. Once this is done, a carriage cannot be side-tracked, the first carriage placed on the road being the first to enter the shop and the first to go out as a repaired vehicle.
At the big shops at Manchester, thirteen tracks are used for the progressive system of repairs. Four of the tracks on which repairs to the bogies and underframes are executed are equipped with electric drive for propelling the bogies and underframes from one end of the shop to the other, at the rate of three inches and six inches per minute respectively, without interfering with the men working on the job. A definite number of operations is allocated to each road, each operation having a time limit which is denoted by clocks placed at the end of each track. page 23 Immediately under the track clock is a printed notice detailing the work to be done at each particular stage, and no work is allowed to be carried out at any point other than at the stage allocated to it. Some fifty-nine working days were formerly occupied on the general repair of a bogie passenger carriage. Now, thanks to efficient organisation and scientific working methods, the L.M. and S. shops complete the work in just twenty-five working days. Since the introduction of the new arrangements, the output of the Manchester shops has increased from thirty to fifty-three passenger carriages per week with the same staff. In addition, the cost of repairing on the progressive system now favoured is much less than that by the old method.
For the Rail Traveller's Comfort.
In few branches of the railway industry has such striking progress been recorded as in the design and construction of passenger carriages. Luxury travel is now the order of the day on every main line, and in Europe some marvellously comfortable vehicles recently have been put into traffic. Following the introduction of de luxe day cars on the “Flying Scotsman” trains, the London and North Eastern line has now put on to its Anglo-Scottish routes new sleeping cars of quite a novel style which really are nothing less than sumptuous bedrooms on wheels.
These new cars, built in the railway shops at Doncaster, are 63½ feet long, and are mounted upon two 4-wheeled compound bolster 8ft. 6in. wheelbase bogies. The underframe is of steel, and the body of teak, while the space between the double floor and the inner and outer sheeting of the roof and sides is packed with asbestos felt, eliminating vibration and reducing the noise of travel. Four entrance doors at both ends are provided, and each car carries ten completely private bedrooms, arranged in pairs, which, if so desired, may be converted into five double rooms by means of communicating doors. An attendant's compartment, lobby and toilet room is installed, and the whole of the metal fittings of the cars are chromium plated. In each bedroom a complete full-size walnut bed is provided, including a box spring mattress with hair and wool overlay and two blue Witney blankets to match the colour scheme of the room. The snow-white bed linen and pillowcases are finally covered with a fawn embroidered bedspread. There is a white porcelain wash-basin with hot and cold running-water in each room; a large frameless bevelled mirror; and two convenient folding tables. Each bedroom measures 6ft. 7¼in. by 4ft. 6in., and the new vehicles represent the very last word in modern sleeping-car design.
“A Boon to Railway Patrons.”
The luxurious vehicles put into traffic by the Home railways in recent times represent but one activity in the efforts of the respective lines to attract the traveller. In almost every branch of railway working, this attempt to retain public favour is clearly apparent, and now there is to be recorded the introduction of another facility which promises to prove a real boon to railway patrons.
This facility takes the form of an arrangement for the acceptance by the railways of consignments of highly perishable traffic, such as meat, soft fruit and cut flowers (up to 2cwt. in weight) for page 24 conveyance by passenger train under the “cash on delivery system.” The fees charged for “cash on delivery” consignments vary according to the amount to be collected. On a consignment, for example, valued at ten shillings, the fee is fourpence; on one valued at £5 the fee is tenpence. In addition, there is a fee of threepence per consignment, the ordinary conveyance charges, and 4½d. for postage and registration of the letter to the consignee containing the receipt form which entitles him to receive the consignment. Consignee obtains delivery of the goods on payment of the trade charge, which is remitted to the sender within a few days, in the form of a crossed money order. The extension of the postal “cash on delivery” system to consignments other than those of a perishable nature conveyed over the Home railways was inaugurated in May, 1928. It is thought that the further extension of the facility to cover perishables will be appreciated by the public, as well as help to assist the farmers in marketing their produce.
Modern methods such as these are of real worth in meeting the menace of road competition. All over Europe this competition is felt very strongly, and until such times as the European railways themselves take over the job of road transport on a big scale, facilities of this kind will go far to retain traffic to the rail route.
Effects of Road Competition in Italy.
Just how the European lines are suffering through road competition is demonstrated by recent figures from Italy. During the year ending June 30, 1929, some two million less passenger tickets were sold than in the previous year, while freight tonnage also was considerably reduced through road competition. According to a report just issued by the British Department of Overseas Trade, the Italian State Railways had a total trackage at June 30, 1930, of 15,969 kilometres. Of this trackage some 1,625 kilometres were operated by electricity, the introduction of electric traction reducing locomotive coal requirements for the year by about 60,000 tons. Steam and electric locomotives, numbered 6,660; passenger coaches 8,842, luggage and postal vans 4,372, and goods wagons 154,509. In 1928 there were some 86,000 motor cycles in Italy, 142,000 motor cars, 6,800 motor buses, and 40,000 motor lorries, carrying an annual traffic of roughly 5,000 million passenger kilometres and 700 million ton kilometres of freight.