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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 8 (December 1, 1933)


Heartiest Christmas and New Year greetings to everyone! New Zealand railwaymen are fortunate in facing none of the climatic problems requiring the attention of their English colleagues at this season. In contrast with your genial sunshine, Europe will probably be covered deep in snow, and on many exposed routes train movement will be accomplished only with the greatest difficulty.

Northern England, the Scottish Highlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, are countries where traffic dislocation is experienced on account of heavy snowfalls. During recent years, however, marked improvements introduced in snow-fighting equipment have lessened, to a considerable degree, the hazards of train operation at this season.

Two types of snow-plough are favoured in Europe. One consists of a portable plough which may be attached to any locomotive, while the other takes the form of a more substantial and powerful appliance consisting of a specially strengthened covered truck with a huge “V” shaped steel plough at one end. The snow-plough gang travels inside the comfortably-furnished truck, and the whole outfit is propelled through the snowdrifts by two, three, or more locomotives.

Christmas travel discomforts, such as Dickens loved to describe, are now a thing of the past. Alongside the Great North Road, where the stage-coaches of days gone by used to battle with the snow, the “Flying Scotsman” to-day rides swiftly and smoothly on its long journey northwards. It would have to be an exceptionally heavy snowfall to seriously affect the running of crack daily passenger trains such as this.