The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 10 (January 1, 1938.)
Our London Letter
A Year of Progress
Sleeping Compartment on the London-Paris Service, via Dover-Dunkirk Train-Ferry.
A Happy New Year to all! At this season comes fresh hope and inspiration, and railwaymen in both New Zealand and Great Britain start the New Year in the cheerful knowledge that never was the transportation machine in better shape than at present. A wonderful year, indeed, was 1937, with the Coronation as an outstanding event. For the Home railways it was a period of progress in every branch. Both passenger and freight traffic showed marked improvement, and on the passenger side, in particular, there were recorded many spectacular developments, notably under the head of streamlined express operation, on the north-going lines out of London.
Normally, passenger train services are cut to a considerable degree on the Home railways during the winter months. This winter, however, the cuts have been much less drastic than in previous years—a sure index of the return of more prosperous days. Fast running, too, is a feature of the winter schedules. To take as an example the London, Midland & Scottish line, the winter time-tables show some 62 passenger trains making regular journeys at start-to-stop average speeds of 60 m.p.h. or over, these trains covering an aggregate daily distance of 6,145 miles at such speeds. These figures compare with 29 trains and 2,633 miles per day the previous winter. Actually, the L. M. & S. Railway this winter inaugurated the biggest speed-up on record of its services between London (St. Pancras), Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford. Wholesale cuts—up to 42 minutes per train—have been effected in the running times between these places, the time-table reorganisation involved being the largest of its kind ever undertaken.
Future of the Steam Locomotive.
The Home railways continue to pin their faith to the steam engine for long-distance haulage, and in this connection it is significant to note that the L. M. & S. and L. & N.E. Railways are jointly establishing a new steam locomotive testing plant at Rugby—pretty well in the centre of England—following the lines of the well-known Vitry locomotive testing house near Paris. The plant will enable valuable experiments to be conducted, and the data secured in the course of the various tests will no doubt be circulated for the benefit of locomotive engineers throughout the world. For many years relatively small locomotive testing plants have been maintained by each of the Home railways, two typical examples being the plants of the L.M. & S. and G.W. lines at Crewe and Swindon respectively. More elaborate machinery, however, than that previously available is being installed at the new Rugby station, which will, in many ways, be a sort of British counterpart of the famous Altoona testing plant of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the United States. The steam locomotive still has many years of useful service before it, and the new Rugby testing plant is certain to help enormously in its future development.
“Shock-absorbing” Goods Wagons.
Advantages of the Welded Track.
The employment of welding to secure extra long rails is growing in Europe. As was pointed out by Dr. Muller, of the German Railways, in a paper prepared for the International Railway Congress, the practice of welding rails together to secure longer lengths originated in 1906, when tramway rails were first welded. By degrees, railways took up the idea, and at present Germany has about 3,852 miles of track laid with welded rails, some being as long as 272 feet. It would seem that welded track stands up satisfactorily to heavy, high-speed working—a point about which some doubt was at first expressed. Welded track, too, is suitable for use on curves of even relatively small radius, while from the viewpoint of the passenger it is a valuable adjunct to travel comfort. As regards the expansion gap to be left between the ends of two welded rails, this necessarily largely depends upon local climatic conditions. Most railways, apparently, take no special steps to prevent rail creep, regarding as the best preventive of this and of track buckling the secure fastening of the rails to the sleepers and the employment of broken stone ballast.
Amalgamation of the French Railways.
Big changes have been introduced in the French railway world, commencing Ist January. By Government decree, the whole of the railways of the country have been amalgamated, and a new National Railway Company set up, in which the State holds 51 per cent, of the shares, efficiency and economy in railway operation, with the ultimate aim of placing the industry on a profitable basis. The various individual transport concerns have put all their assets into the new company, and on the expiration of the company's charter in the year 1982, its assets will revert to the State without payment. The individual undertakings forming the new concern are to receive from the National Company annual payments to cover interests, guaranteed dividends and share redemptions. They are also being given shares in the new company in proportion to their contribution thereto of rolling stock, buildings, and other property. A Board of Directors is being set up, consisting of the Vice-President of the Council of State, the Governor of the Bank of France, the Director of Public Trust Funds, twelve representatives of the State, twelve representatives of the railway companies, two persons who have rendered eminent service to railways, and four employee representatives. Altogether, the French railways have a route mileage of 26,447, the Paris-Orleans-Midi system running to 7,365 miles; the Paris-Lyons-Mediterranean to 6,350 miles; Etat, 5,690 miles; Eastern, 3,207 miles; Northern, 2,400; and Alsace-Lorraine, 1,435 miles.
A Notable Railway Display.
The striking improvements introduced on the French railways in recent years were admirably brought to public notice in the transport section of the great International Exhibition recently held in Paris. The transport exhibits were housed in what was formerly the Invalides Railway Station, remodelled to form a large hall on ground level, a second hall beneath, and a third hall on what was formerly track-level below the concourse. Entering the exhibition, one noted a fine display of the various social services of the railways, among which were camps for workers, playing centres for children, and sports grounds. A much-admired technical exhibit was a full-scale model of a 4-6-4 type steam locomotive in section, with an arrangement of coloured lights, showing the flow of water, smoke, steam, etc. The Dover-Dunkirk train-ferry exhibit took the form of a passenger coach, equipped with a moving diorama illustrating points of interest seen on the Paris-London trip. Many passenger and goods vehicles of all types were on show, including the latest desigis of Renault and Micheline railcars. Container transport was specially covered. Foreign exhibits were well to the fore. A striking display was that of Poland, which included a streamlined 4-6-4 type locomotive for fast passenger service, a dance car furnished with refreshment bar and cinema, and a toilet saloon car with barber's shop, bathrooms and showers.