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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 12 (March 1, 1938.)

Interesting Railway Structures

Interesting Railway Structures.

The railway industry is now well over one hundred years old, and travelling over the Home lines one secures abundant and striking evidence of the thorough manner in which the pioneers tackled the engineering problems of their day. Actually, there are innumerable engineering structures, such as bridges, viaducts and tunnels, which have been serving us for a hundred years or more, and in a recent run over the Great Western system the writer renewed acquaintance with several of these century-old structures.

A most interesting viaduct, constructed exactly one hundred years ago, is the Wharncliffe Viaduct, at Hanwell, near London. This is 896 feet long and 65 feet high. It consists of eight semi-elliptical brick arches of 70 ft. span, springing from piers each composed of twin stone-capped pillars united by a heavy architrave. Originally built for two tracks, the Wharncliffe Viaduct was widened about fifty years ago, to take four tracks. Another ancient structure, not very many miles further west, is Isambard Brunel's famous brick bridge over the Thames at Maidenhead. This consists of two main arches in brickwork, 128 ft. span, with a rise of only 24 ft. 3 in. The design is most unconventional, the flat arches in brickwork being a constant source of wonder and admiration. In Devon and Cornwall, there were, until recently, many century-old timber viaducts in use. Most of these structures, however, have now been replaced by steel and stone.

Country Lorry Service.

Goods traffic handled by the Home railways continues to expand, and the fullest use is being made of the elaborate road collection and delivery services, of which the four group lines were world pioneers. At the present moment, the stock of motor vehicles in service on the Home railways stands at about 9,200, while there are also employed—mainly for city collections and deliveries—about 13,000 horse-drawn vehicles. A relatively new development is the country lorry service. This links up railheads with outlying farms and villages. Shippers dispatch in bulk to the country lorry depot their commodities for farmers, and there they are split up for delivery by the railway motor lorries. At many railheads, manufacturers of farm needs hold permanent stocks from which the railways make regular lorry deliveries to order. Country lorry services, operated in conjunction with railway goods trains, also form a coordinated road and rail service of particular value to farmers and others engaged in agriculture, as they facilitate the rapid marketing of produce. In this manner, areas more or less remote from the railway are provided with transport facilities equal to those enjoyed by the industrial centres.

Interior of L.M. and S. Travelling Mail Van.

Interior of L.M. and S. Travelling Mail Van.

Postal Mail Traffic.

An important responsibility of railways everywhere is the handling of postal mails of all kinds. In Britain, the L. M. & S. Railway carries the heaviest postal mail traffic, and to meet the needs of increasing business there have been constructed recently in this company's shops three new Post Office sorting cars of striking design. The length of the underframe is 60 ft., and length over all 63 ft. 8 1/2 in., the body being 60 ft. I in. long and 8 ft. 8 in. wide. The underframes and bogies are of steel. The latter are four-wheeled, with 9 ft. centres, and of welded construction. Teak framing forms the body, the outer sides being sheeted with steel panelling. The floor timbers are of jarrah, supporting galvanised steel sheeting carrying fireproof composition flooring. Inside, the new coaches are fitted with one registered letter desk, seven letter sets, two newspaper sets, drawers, etc. There is the usual pick-up and delivery apparatus for mail bags while travelling at speed, and the exterior of the new postal cars presents a very attractive appearance.