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Editorial to Part 15


A PROMINENT feature of my correspondence is the large number of photographs and details of various railway lines which have some point of interest or novelty. It is not always possible to accede to the requests of many of my correspondents to devote a chapter to some of these interesting railways; frequently, however, they can be included in a chapter that will deal with several of these smaller railways. For this reason I welcome this information, and these photographs, as well as requests from readers who wish to see chapters on railway subjects in which they are specially interested.


Even those of us who are most enthusiastic are apt to take for granted certain familiar aspects of railway travel. How many of us realize the fascinating story that lies behind the evolution of the railway carriage? Between the first railway carriage - known as the “Experiment” - and the modern all-steel Pullman, 70 ft long, there is a story that is as fascinating as any in the history of the railways. Next week we shall devote a chapter to “The Railway Carriage”.


THOSE readers who enjoyed the chapter in Part 5 on “The Great St. Gothard” will be glad to renew acquaintance with Switzerland. In Part 16 we shall publish a chapter on the journey made by the “Glacier Express” from St. Moritz to Zermatt. The “Glacier Express” travels through some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in Europe. The description of the journey is fascinating in itself, but the story that lies behind the making of the railway is even more fascinating. The amazing skill of the Swiss engineers and the engineering devices they were obliged to adopt to carry the track through seemingly impassable mountain barriers form the subject of one of the greatest stories of railway endeavour.


MANY readers have wished to know something of the railway in Scotland. Part 16 will contain a complete chapter on the Scottish railway systems, and will tell of their development from the early days. This chapter will contain descriptions of some of the more famous Scottish stations. Lybster in Caithness is over 742 miles from London, and is the end of a railway system north of the Border that is full of interest to all railway enthusiasts.


FROM Scotland we have a complete change of locality, for beginning in Part 16 is a chapter on the famous Sao Paulo Railway in South America. The Sao Paulo Railway was built by an English engineer, and one section of the line, known as the New Serra Inclines, is cable-operated. Trains are hauled up a gradient of 8 in 100, and in spite of the difficulties of transit four million tons of goods pass over the Sao Paulo Railway in the course of a year.


Next week I am including a chapter on Viaducts. There is frequently some confusion of thought over viaducts and bridges; viaducts are often wrongly called bridges. The Tay Bridge, for example, is not a bridge but a viaduct.


Viaducts are not only vital links in railway communication, but they are also superb examples of engineering. Incidentally, the Tay Bridge is probably the most famous viaduct in the British Isles; its total length is 2 miles 73 yards, and it contains eighty-five spans, the longest being 245 ft. Long.


The Tay Bridge was rebuilt after the disaster of 1879, when the heaviest North British expresses weighed only about forty-six tons. Yet to-day the Tay Bridge takes the heaviest “Pacific” and “Cock o’ the North” class locomotives. This is a great tribute to the skill of its designer; and so is the viaduct which spans the Ouse Valley, a mile or so north of Hayward's Heath, in Sussex. This viaduct, so familiar to passengers on the main London-Brighton line, was built nearly a hundred years ago by John U. Rastrick. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful pieces of work of its kind. Built of brick, and faced with grey stone, the structure contains thirty-six arches. It is strange nowadays to see the fast green Brighton electric speeding across this superb structure, which has known successively the brass-and-copper-bound locomotives of very early days and the bright yellow locomotives built by Stroudley.


OUR cover this week depicts “Nighthawk”, No. 2577 of the London and North Eastern Railway, running at speed. This locomotive is of the 4-6-2 “Pacific” type with three cylinders, designed by Mr. H. N. Gresley, C.B.E., the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER, for express passenger work. This engine, with tender, is 70 ft 2⅜ in long over the buffers, and weighs in working order 158 tons 13 cwt. Engines of this class are used on the crack expresses between the London terminus at King’s Cross and Waverley Station at Edinburgh, and on other lines comprising the LNER system.