The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)
Our London Letter
In his present contribution, Mr. Stead gives some interesting particulars of the plan recently adopted for the pooling of receipts of the two largest railway companies in the Homeland (the L.M. & S. and L. & N.E.), and tells what the railways are doing to improve both their passenger and freight services.
An Interesting Pooling Plan.
Home railway efficiency promises to be fostered materially as a result of an ambitious working agreement entered into between the two largest group lines—the London, Midland and Scottish, and the London and North Eastern. Since the introduction of railway grouping under the Railways Act of 1921, a great deal has been accomplished in the endeavour to secure more efficient and economical operation through the elimination of redundant services, the simplification of joint-line working arrangements, and the cutting-out of needless competition as between one group railway and another. Now, however, much more far-reaching schemes are being tackled, and the pooling plan of the L.M. and S. and L. and N.E. lines stands out as an exceptionally bold and intelligently-conceived scheme for meeting modern requirements.
In brief, the plan provides for an elaborate system of pooling of receipts, based upon the gross receipts of each of the companies between selected competitive points for the years 1928, 1929 and 1930. Striking the average of these, there is ascertained the proportions for the division of the combined receipts in future years between the parties concerned. Wasteful competition in the provision of services between points served by both railways will be eliminated, and the result of the arrangement will be to direct all traffic into its natural economic route. The resources and equipment of both companies will be employed for their common interest between places where their interests were previously divergent, and apart from the avoidance of outlay on duplication services, economies will ensure in respect of advertising, town office arrangements, canvassing, cartage work, and other outlay accompanying competition.
It has been suggested that this agreement between the two largest Home railway groups is a preliminary to the complete unification of the four systems. While it seems certain that eventually one single railway undertaking will take the place of the four groups, authoritative opinion is that this complete merger will not be accomplished for many years. As a step towards complete unification, the agreement will have its uses. In the meantime it should prove of the greatest page 19 value in increasing railway efficiency and effecting big savings in working expenditure.
The Irish Railways.
The new G.N. locomotives have a steam pressure of 250lb. per square inch. The high-pressure cylinder measures 17 ¼ in. by 26in., and the two low-pressure cylinders 19in. by 26in. Total heating surface is 1,527.5 sq. ft., grate area 25.22 sq. ft., and tractive effort 23,762lb. Weight of engine and tender in full working order is 103 tons. Utilisation of these new locomotives in the Dublin-Belfast fast passenger services is resulting in a reduction in journey time of half-an-hour over the 112 ½ miles run, while an engine of the new type is covering the 54 ½ miles between Dublin and Dundalk in 54 minutes.
Britain's Mystery Trains.
In these difficult times railways must lose no opportunity of securing every scrap of traffic offering. Through intelligent adaptation to the needs of the public, the Home railways are securing good passenger business arising out of the “hiking” craze that has swept through the country, by conveying hikers out of the congested cities to suitable spots from which to begin their walks.
Each Home railway issues handbooks for hikers, containing details of walks from various centres. The running of special trains for hikers is the latest week-end innovation. On these trains, a passenger pays a fixed sum for travel, and until the train actually starts, its destination is a mystery. Immediately the journey has begun, attendants pass down the train and supply information as to its destination, along with printed details of suitable hikes, details regarding return train times, refreshment page 20 houses en route of the walk, points of especial interest, and so on. Each weekend thousands of hikers take advantage of this facility, and the “hiking special” is one of the most profitable innovations of our time.
A Fine Freight Train Performance.
While passenger business is now at its height, the Home railways are not neglecting the freight side. Goods trains all over Britain are being accelerated, and the examination of the current time-books reveals some remarkably fast running.
Between Camden Station, London, and Edge Hill, Liverpool, the London, Midland and Scottish Company is running a daily non-stop freight service covering the 191 miles without a single stop. Between King's Cross Station, London, and Glasgow and Aberdeen, the London, and North Eastern line operates what is probably the fastest freight train in the world. This averages 43 miles an hour over the 334 ¾ miles separating London from Berwick-on-Tweed. Between Peterborough and York, on the southern section of the route 112 miles are covered non-stop at 44 m.p.h. The longest through freight train at Home runs from Aberdeen to London, 545 miles. Freight despatched from Aberdeen at 9.35 a.m. is unloaded in London at 11.25 p.m. the same day—a truly fine performance, of which any country might well be proud. Freight train time-tables are now issued by the Home railways to the public in just the same manner as passenger train time-tables. One system—the Great Western—has introduced an arrangement of guaranteed arrivals, and each of the group lines takes immense pains to ensure punctual freight train running.
New Type of Turntable.
The powerful locomotives employed in Britain for passenger and freight train haulage to-day, call for the utilisation of new equipment of every kind. Turntables, for instance, have to be of very robust and efficient design to stand up to present-day requirements.
The L. and N.E. line has introduced a new type of turn-table, the invention of Mr. Mundt, of the Dutch State Railways, and constructed by Ransomes and Rapier, of Ipswich. Only a very shallow pit is required, and none of the former “balancing” of the locomotive is needed. The table rests on shallow continuous girders, reinforced for a certain distance between the centre and the ends. Sixty per cent, of the load is carried on the centre pivot, and forty per cent, on the wheels or rollers at the table-ends. Turning is accomplished either by electric drive or hand winch through suitable gearing. The turning of the heaviest engine is accomplished page 21 with ease in a few minutes. Turn-tables of the Mundt type have for some time been employed in Holland, Belgium, and elsewhere. This is the first application of the Mundt table to British practice.
Fast Runs on the Continent.
France leads in the European passenger train speed table, having 125 daily runs at an average speed of 56 ¼ m.p.h. or over. The 60 ½ m.p.h. maintained over 145 miles by the Quevy-Paris daily train is an outstanding run, while there are twenty-seven daily runs at 59 ½ m.p.h. and over, scattered throughout the various systems. New timings for the principal expresses out of Paris include a 67 ½ miles per hour flight between Paris-St. Quentin, in the case of the Nord Company's Berlin “Rapide”; and several runs of 62 ¼ m.p.h. on the State Railways between Paris and Rouen. In Germany the fastest service is that between Berlin and Hamburg (180 miles in 3 hours 14 minutes, average 55 ½ m.p.h.). In Belgium, average speeds of 54 ½ m.p.h. are maintained in the Brussels-Ostend run, while Holland has several runs of 48 m.p.h. between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Very remarkable, having regard to the gradients encountered, are the accom plishments of the Swiss Railways. On the St. Gothard route, the 255-mile journey from Basle to Milan is performed at an average speed of 40 ½ m.p.h., this relatively fast running being secured through the employment of super-power electric locomotives.
The St. Gothard Railway, one of the world's most remarkable transportation undertakings, has just celebrated its fiftieth birthday. Completed in 1882, the line now ranks as an important link in cross-European transport, and as a most efficiently operated electric mountain railway.
The St. Gothard Railway Company was subsidised by the Swiss, Italian and German Governments. The most difficult construction work was the building of the St. Gothard tunnel between Goschenen and Airolo. Some 14,900 metres in length, the double-track tunnel took nine years to construct. This unique Swiss railway has been admired by engineers from every land, special features being the loop-tunnels and double-horseshoe curves introduced to negotiate the difficult country traversed. At Wassen, the tracks are actually laid at three levels one above the other, and are linked by ingenious spirals.