The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 7 (February 1, 1932.)
Our London Letter
Our London Letter
“In a single year the Home railways convey 55,000,000 tons of miscellaneous merchandise, 63,000,000 tons of minerals other than coal and coke, and 200,000,000 tons of coal, coke and patent fuels. About 17,000,000 head of livestock are also dealt with annually. Freight train mileage runs to about 143,000,000 per annum. In the British railway goods stations there are 27,000,000 square feet of storage space, and recently more than 5,000 containers of all kinds have been brought into use.” — From our special London Correspondent's current Letter reviewing recent railway developments in Britain and on the Continent.
Excursion Fares Draw Increased Traffic.
The Home railways have met successfully the competition of the road carrier through their policy of acquiring financial interest in the larger road transport undertakings. Now they are concentrating upon the improvement of their long-distance passenger and freight train services, with the idea of retaining this type of business to the rail route.
During the last summer season each of the four group railways speeded up passenger timetables: in addition to the acceleration of the principal expresses, better cross-country links were provided, and local train services improved. Many new day trains were introduced, a large number including refreshment cars in their make-up; while for the rush months new sleeping-car trams were btougnt into the schedules of the Anglo-Scottish and West of England night runs. Excursions at low rates, for both long and short periods, have drawn immense numbers of passengers to the rail route in preference to road travel, and altogether the group lines have experienced a relatively profitable summer holiday season.
On the freight side the Home railways are aiming at providing a service of fast trains composed of vacuum-braked trucks and high-powered locomotives that will meet the most exacting needs of traders. Motor-lorry links between railheads and agricultural districts, fishing-ports and remote villages, also are being greatly improved. Scores of fast braked freight trains now run nightly between the principal London goods stations and other important cities, providing in most cases “next morning” deliveries. These services are carried out at the ordinary goods rates, and time-tables indicating times of departure and approximate times of ar tvvaV oi traffic in through wagons are issued to all interested traders. Terminal operations, also, are being speeded up, and overhead electric cranes and other modern appliances installed to facilitate the handling of traffic in the goods depots.
A feature of the past summer's passenger business was the very large number of travellers handled between English and Continental points. The Southern and London and North Eastern are the two Home railways most greatly interested in Continental travel, and by the routes of both of these lines record numbers of people have been carried to and from the mainland of Europe.
To meet the needs of growing business new steamships have been put into service between England and the Continent. One recent addition was the oil-fired steamer “Cote d'Azur,” placed in the Calais-Dover service. This vessel has accommodation for 1,400 passengers, and is a very fast and seaworthy boat. The Southern Railway, too, have struck a new note by introducing into their Continental steamship services a vessel specially designed for the movement of motor cars. This is an excellent example of the manner in which the Home railways are tackling changed conditions brought about by the growth of automobile travel.
Both the Southern Railway of England and the Northern Railway of France are interested in the Calais-Dover sailings, and through these steamship services the railways secure much valuable passenger business. From and to Calais there are through train connections with all corners of Europe, except Holland, owing to her geographical situation, and Spain, on whose frontier a break of track gauge occurs. For Paris there are three through trains daily in each direction, and for Brussels two through trains daily. Calais is the western terminal of the Nord Express (Berlin, Warsaw and Riga); the Rome Express; the Orient Express (Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Buka-rest); the Simplon-Orient Express (Milan, Belgrade, Sofia and Constantinople); and other world-famed longdistance trains.
Britain's Railway-owned Docks.
Steamship and dock operation forms one of the most profitable side-lines of the Home railways. Around the coast of Britain stretches a great chain of railway-owned docks, the railways being, in fact, the largest dock-owners in the land. Practically the whole of the passenger-services to and from the Continent, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel page 39 Islands, are performed by railway-owned steamers, which provide fast and comfortable day and night services comparable with vessels many times their size. Steamers owned by the Home railways total about 170, and they convey about 8,000,000 people every year.
Railway-owned docks in Britain are not only the homes of railway steamers, however. They also accommodate those ocean giants whose names are household words. For example, Southampton is the terminal and principal calling place of the largest liners, for whose convenience the largest floating dock in the world has been provided, solely through the enterprise of the Southern Railway. The enormous scope of the Home railways' activities in this important phase of world transport also is illustrated by the Great Western Company's huge docks at Barry, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport; the L. and N.E. Company's docks at Hull, Grimsby, Immingham, Harwich, Tyne-side, etc.; and those of the L.M. and S. system at Garston, Fleetwood, Barrow and Grangemouth.
London's Transport Pool.
Passenger traffic in and around the world's capitals has grown beyond all belief in recent years, and this vast increase in passenger movement has presented many perplexing operating and administrative problems. In London a solution is being reached by the setting up of an enormous transport pool embracing all the rail and road carriers in the area. These, in the main, are the suburban sections of the main-line railways, the underground railways, the omnibus companies, and the street tramway undertakings. The pool will be supervised by a special Transport Board, who will so exercise their powers as to secure the provision of an adequate and properly co-ordinated system of passenger transport for the London traffic area. For that purpose, while avoiding the provision of unnecessary and wasteful competitive services, they will take from time to time such steps as they consider necessary for extending and improving the passenger transport facilities of the area in such manner as to provide most efficiently and conveniently for the needs thereof.
London should, under the new regime, soon be able to boast of one of the most efficient and scientifically co-ordinated systems of transport in the whole world. Under the arrangement, electrification of page 40 the main-line railways in the London area should be considerably hastened, and the unification of financial interests which will be brought about will make it possible to greatly improve facilities and to have through bookings and through running, at present not practicable except in limited cases.
Operating Statistics and the European Practice.
It is interesting to note that in this period of depression in trade, the German railways continue to compile a vast mass of statistical data for the guidance of their officers. Operating statistics on the German railways follow much the same lines as those favoured in Britain, but as in other European countries a good many differences are found in the manner in which essential figures are segregated and in the method of their compilation.
It would be an excellent thing if operating statistics throughout the world could be placed upon a standard footing. This, however, can hardly be hoped for, in view of the different conditions existing in the various countries.