A Famous Train of the GWR
“Getting hold of them”. The GWR 2-
IT is probably correct to claim that the highest regular railway speeds in the whole world are run by the famous two-
In the first place, only two of the two-
The reason is to be found in the difficulty of the grading and the number and severity of the enforced reductions of speed for curves. At no more than three miles out of Paddington the speed of a down two-
Such are the obstacles between London and Leamington, all to be surmounted within the brief compass of an overall time of 91 minutes for the 87¼ miles, entailing an average speed of all but 58 miles an hour. To maintain such a time, when the losses arising out of all these speed reductions and gradients have been taken into account, must obviously involve very high speeds over those sections of the line that favour their attainment. From Leamington to Birmingham only 26 minutes are allowed for the 23¼ miles, start-
In such conditions as these it is hardly surprising that the working of the two-
The highest speed records that I have ever recorded in 20 years of careful train-
It is within the knowledge of most readers, no doubt, that the present Great Western route to Birmingham is -
Birmingham was 129¼ miles away from Paddington, however, as compared with 113 miles from Euston, and the handicap in distance was too great to admit of any equalising in time of the two routes. When the late London and North Western Railway had at last got its time between London and Birmingham down to the even two hours, early in the present century, the best that the Great Western could manage, without any intermediate stop, was two hours, 20 minutes. Even to-
Gradient profiles of the Great Western and the London Midland and Scottish routes, London to Birmingham.
The Great Central Railway which, as we saw in the article “The 3.20 Down Manchester” had in 1899 reached London from the North, was at the same time anxious to find an alternative route out of London for its freight trains and heavier passenger expresses, that would avoid the steep and awkward climb over Amersham Summit, as well as the general
congestion of the Metropolitan route north of Harrow. Consequently the two companies joined forces, and the Great Western and Great Central Joint Line was completed and opened in 1906. The Great Western had to make a short connecting line from Old Oak Common, near Acton, to Northolt, and the Great Central from Neasden to the same point, from which the joint line carries on for 35½b miles past High Wycombe and Princes Risborough to Ashendon Junction, in the north of Bucks.
From there the Great Western had another connecting spur to make, running forward to a junction with the old Birmingham main line at Aynho, five miles south of Banbury. This was opened in July, 1910, when, for the first time, two-
Why do I choose this express as the particular one for description? Because it is, in my judgment, the most difficult of the all-
These together make up a 12-
We have already reviewed the rolling stock on the train, and little more need be said under this head, except, perhaps, to call attention to the articulated restaurant cars. These are built on the same lines as the familiar Gresley articulated coaches of the London and North Eastern, with central bogies supporting the adjacent ends of the kitchen car, in the centre, and the first and third-
We notice also on the rear of the train the two slip portions, each carrying its distinctive array of tail signals. In the earlier days, when the train did not stop at Leamington, there were three -
The engine may, and quite probably will be a “Castle” type four-
As the extensive rearrangement of lines, which has been proceeding for a long time past between Paddington and Old Oak, is probably still incomplete, we may expect cautious running at first. We shall be reminded of the work already carried out by passing through Westbourne Park Station on what is apparently the wrong side of the platform. Then, just as our driver is nicely “getting hold of them”, there comes the reduction of speed over Old Oak Common West Junction, generally involving the cross-
There is now a rise to Park Royal and a drop to Greenford, where we may expect first to reach the “sixty” line. Despite 2½ miles up at 1 in 261 from there to Northolt Junction -
In my judgment this is the most beautiful of all the exits from London, and all the best of the scenery is concentrated in the next 20 miles or so as we thread our way through the abrupt slopes of the Chiltern Hills. From between Ruislip and Denham we rise, first at 1 in 225, then at 1 in 175 and 1 in 264, for 7½ miles unbrokenly, until beyond the golf course at Seer Green, where we breast the summit, just before reaching Beaconsfield Station. Notwithstanding 380 tons of trainload, we need not expect to fall below 50 miles an hour on the climb, and it is quite possible that our “minimum” will be higher than this. But such feats are of so common occurrence on the Great Western Birmingham service that one scarcely takes any notice of them!
After threading the extremely deep cutting north of Beaconsfield Station we hurry down the modest descent to High Wycombe, getting a very fine view on the left -
After Wycombe we traverse a deep valley, bearing round to the right through West Wycombe where a singular station lay-
Our enormously rapid acceleration down the steep grade to Princes Risborough will prove one of the most thrilling experiences of the journey, and when we have dashed through that station at over 70 miles an hour -
An articulated express passenger train, first and third-
The slack over the diverging line to Ashendon brings us down to 50 miles an hour again. The up line, we notice, flies over the LNER main line, which here leaves us for Grendon Underwood junction, where it rejoins the main line over which we travelled recently to Manchester. Two miles up at 1 in 200-
Five minutes later we dash through Banbury “on time” -
At 7.44 p.m. we get away again. With Hatton Bank ahead, the engine is well opened out, and aided by a brief ¾-
It would be more or less of an anticlimax to describe the remainder of the journey, as there is little further opportunity for anything in the way of speed achievement and the thrills are at an end. Twenty minutes are allowed for the 12½ miles traverse of the “Black Country” to Wolverhampton, where our hard-
In the General Station at Chester the train reverses its direction, and with -
Snow Hill Station, Birmingham.
[From The Meccano Magazine, November 1927]