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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 3 (June 1, 1940)

Our London Letter

page 25

Our London Letter

Record Railway Business.

New railway records, are being set up in Britain these days. Freight traffic has attained undreamt of proportions; passenger business steadily grows; locomotive and wagon shops are turning out new equipment on an immense scale; and new junctions, running loops and sidings are being brought into use by the hundred to facilitate the war effort.

The summer passenger rush, which normally extends from Easter to the end of September, would, it was thought, prove this year to be on a greatly reduced scale. Actually, experience is showing that there is every prospect of the summer vacation bookings being well up to average. Because of the petrol rationing, large numbers of travellers are being brought to the rail route; then, there is the regular movement of parents visiting their children in the evacuation areas; and, curiously enough, there has sprung up another big passenger movement in connection with the periodical visits of members of the staffs of big city firms to their London homes, from which they were dragged away when many banks, insurance offices, and business houses transferred their headquarters into the country early in the war. Unlike the German railways—which have placed the severest restrictions on civilian movement—the Home lines are everywhere available for civilian travel. Additional trains are placed at public disposal at week-ends and public holidays, and cheap fares of various kinds continue to operate. The principal cheap bookings consist of monthly return and weekend tickets, while for day outings cheap day-tickets at single fare for the double journey prove most popular.

Annual Holiday Handbooks.

Limited though passenger publicity necessarily must be, the Home railways have thought it well this season to issue as usual their annual holiday handbooks. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and it is recognised that hardworking civilians will find refreshment and new vigour through a brief seaside or country vacation. I have before me as I write two of the new holiday guides—the Great Western “Holiday Haunts,” and the Southern “Hints for Holidays.” The G.W. publication is a splendidly produced volume of 744 pages. There are descriptions of about 600 resorts and 5,000 holiday addresses, and illustrations are again a special feature. The attractive wrapper depicts a couple of beach belles basking in the summer sunshine somewhere in the West Country. The Southern Company's “Hints for Holidays” handbook runs to 512 pages, and it has been published largely at the request of many proprietors of hotels, boarding houses and apartments, who regard the work as one of the most important channels for their publicity. Like the Great Western handbook, “Hints for Holidays” provides wonderful value for sixpence, and a generous proportion of first-class illustrations has been maintained.

Fine, New Station Building.

New works, other than those directly called for to facilitate our war effort, have been reduced to a minimum on
The Imposing frontage of the new Leamington Spa Station.

The Imposing frontage of the new Leamington Spa Station.

the Home railways. Certain useful schemes have, however, been proceeded with, such, for instance, as the provision of automatic train control over some 2,852 miles of track on the Great Western line; reconstruction on the London Passenger Transport Board's lines, enabling Bakerloo trains to be projected over the Metropolitan Railway to Stanmore, and giving accommodation for longer trains on the Bakerloo by the lengthening of station platforms. One interesting work recently completed on the Great Western consists of the demolition of the old passenger station buildings and platform coverings at Leamington Spa, erected as long ago as 1853, and the erection of new buildings in keeping with the character of this popular inland resort. Features of the scheme included a new subway, fifteen feet wide, between the Up and Down platforms, with electric lift services for luggage, the lowering of the original high level approach road to sul way level, the provision of new approaches to the loading docks (one by means of a reinforced concrete horseramp) and increased covered platform areas. The new station forecourt or main approach has an area of three-quarters of an acre with ample car-parking page 26 accommodation, and there is direct access from the forecourt to the parcels office, cloak room, cycle store and refreshment room cellar. The booking-hall, immediately inside the main entrance, leads directly to the steps to the Down platform and the new subway to the Up side. The walls of the booking-hall are lined with tiling above a polished granite plinth. This plinth is a notable feature of the new station. It has been used extensively on the front elevation of the main building, and also at platform level on the whole of the building work on both platforms.

Some Imposing Figures.

The Metropolitan Railway forms one of London's most important transport links, and recent official figures tell of the striking growth of traffic over this route, and of the increase in the population served. In 1933, some 25,348,000 passengers bought tickets at Metropolitan stations. In 1938 the figure was 38,446,000, an increase of 52 per cent. Including passengers who purchased their tickets at other stations, it is calculated that some 53,300,000 people made use of the Metropolitan line in 1938. The Metropolitan Railway passes through thirteen administrative areas, and the population of these areas grew from 727,000 in 1931, to 958,700 in 1938, since when even more striking increases in population have occurred. To meet increased demands for travel facilities, the London Transport Board extended the running of Piccadilly trains to Uxbridge in 1933, and in 1935 embarked on a big improvement plan on the Metropolitan line. Recently, Bakerloo Line trains have commenced to run over the Metropolitan as far as Stan-more.

Effective Cinema Publicity.

Cinema publicity is growing in favour the world over. Here at Home, we have just witnessed the release of a fine film production styled “Carrying On,” devoted to a review of the part which railways have played since the beginning of the war and how the growing effort of the nation is being served. The film was shot in different parts of the country: locomotives and trains, men, women and children, merchandise, guns and foodstuffs form the “stars.” The story opens towards the end of August last, when thousands of holiday-makers were being handled by the railways, while behind the scenes the transport officials were perfecting their plans for any emergency. Then, evacuation scenes are pictured, with 3,000,000 people being carried to places of safety in the biggest mass movement ever attempted. At midnight on September 1st, the Government took over the railways, and we are shown war work in progress. Carriages and premises were blacked out; trained A.R.P. personnel took up their stations; armed guards appeared at strategic points; the rapid movement of troops, guns, tanks and munitions commenced; reinforced concrete control rooms were completed for use in emergency; over six miles of passenger carriages were converted into ambulance and casualty trains; and hundreds of special trains were provided at short notice, carrying the machinery and man-power of our fighting forces. The film gives us shots of every phase of war-time railway activity, and apart from its propaganda value provides an invaluable record for posterity of the magnificent effort of one and all associated with the Home railways war machine.

Railway Buildings for National Use.

Railway buildings of various kinds continue to be turned over to the authorities, and many railway hotels now house servicemen or Government departments. One of the first railway buildings to be acquired for national use was the Southern Railway Orphanage, one of the finest institutions of its kind in the country. Fortunately, it has been possible to find suitable homes for all the children, and to-day the orphanage serves as a splendidly-equipped hospital. Four of the largest establishments run by the Railway Convalescent Homes movement also have been transformed into hospitals. Waiting-rooms and other
Casualty Evacuation Train Rehearsal on the London and North-Eastern Railway.

Casualty Evacuation Train Rehearsal on the London and North-Eastern Railway.

accommodation at stations has in many cases been turned into rest-rooms and canteens for the troops; while another useful contribution of the railways has been the provision at junction stations of rest carriages for men of the forces. Voluntary helpers of both sexes gladly give their services in the station rest-rooms and canteens, and railway-men and their wives are well to the fore among those who give their leisure to care for our gallant fighters.

Casualty Evacuation Trains.

Up to the time of writing, no great use has been made of the casualty evacuation trains constructed in the Home railway shops. These trains, however, form a vital part of the A.R.P. programme, and they are ready for use at a moment's notice. The trains are each composed of twelve vehicles, and are primarily intended for the evacuation of civilian casualties from First Aid or Clearing Stations to the Base Hospitals. They are stabled at suitable points throughout the country, and each train is made up of two corridor brake thirds, nine brake vans and a vestibule vehicle. The third brakes are equipped for the storage of domestic, food and medical supplies, and have cooking facilities and compartments for the train staff. The brake vans are fitted with brackets on both sides of the bodywork to carry stretchers, of which more than thirty are available in each car. The remaining vehicle is used by the train staff for mess and recreational purposes. The exteriors are in the railway companies’ own standard colours, and no special finish is given inside.