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Editorial to Part 21


ALTHOUGH twenty parts of Railway Wonders of the World have now been published, my correspondence continues to be not only varied but also heavy. The letters of appreciation that I am receiving from all parts of the world are very gratifying., I am glad to know that so many readers regard Railway Wonders of the World as something more than a weekly periodical. An extract from a letter from H. B., of Edinburgh, is typical of many. He says: “Railway Wonders of the World is not merely a paper to be taken each week. It is an authentic and interesting work, which deserves to rank as a standard work for many years to come.”


This brings me to another point. Many other correspondents, who also regard Railway Wonders of the World as something permanent, are anxious to have further details of the binding cases. Part 23, published on July 5, will contain a special announcement in relation to these cases.


THE railway is essentially a product of the times. In spite of this, we cannot escape the romance of the days when there were no railways. The very country through which trains run is frequently invested with the glamour and romance of those early days. This applies especially to the highland railways of Scotland, and next week I shall include a chapter on these lines. This chapter will include a description of a journey through the Scottish highlands from Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig on the West Highland Railway, now operated by the LNER. On this trip the trains pass over the notorious Rannoch Moor - a basin among the hills which is full of a fluid peat-bog - and stop at places, such as Fort William, Morar, and Glenfinnan, whose names are redolent of the glamour of history. This journey has some of this inevitable glamour and romance embodied in it.


The first Scottish mountain lines were owned by the Highland line, which now belongs to the LMS. The journey from Perth to Inverness via the Drumochter Pass, 1,484 ft above the sea, also makes a superb trip.


THE Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway is one of the wonder lines not only of India but also of the world, and it is fitting, therefore, that it should find a place in this work. The line, about fifty miles long and adhesion worked, goes from Siliguri to Darjeeling, and has one of the most startling loops and zigzags that the ingenuity of railway engineers has ever contrived. The summit of the railway is at Ghoom Station, 7,407 ft above sea-level. The route contains short gradients as steep as 1 in 23, while its steepest average gradient is about 1 in 29. This railway is neither a freak line nor is it one of no commercial importance. On the contrary, it carried, during the year 1934, about 80,000 tons of goods.


The chapter that I published in Part 17 on “Locomotive Speed Records” has been one of the most popular. It seems that there is a never-ending interest in this fascinating topic. Since the LNER express “Papyrus” achieved the world’s record run of 108 miles an hour in March of this year, this interest has increased, and I have decided to deal further with this subject. I know from the many letters which I have received that this will be a popular decision. Next week’s chapter will be illustrated by pictures of famous flyers on all the British main lines. The chapter itself deals with such noted trains as the “Cornish Riviera Express”, the “Cheltenham Flyer”, the “Queen of Scots”, and so forth. Everyone who is interested in railways - whether his interest is that of the beginner or of someone who has spent a lifetime in their study - will find some new and interesting facts in this authoritative chapter, which is written by my colleague, Mr. Cecil J. Allen.


BEGINNING next week there will be a chapter on some of the famous railway bridges in the world, with special reference to the world’s longest railway bridge, the Lower Zambesi Bridge in Portuguese East Africa. This was built by British enterprise and cost over £1,400,000. It was completed in 1934.


Another of the most interesting railway bridges built in recent years is the one across the Nile in Uganda. When the Kenya and Uganda Railway decided that the main line westwards from Jinja to Kampala had to be extended, they found that a bridge across the Nile was necessary. Operations began in 1929, the bridge being open for traffic in 1931. This bridge carries a single metre-gauge line.


OUR cover this week depicts a giant American locomotive running at full speed at the head of a heavy train. The picture clearly shows the American type of cow-catcher on the front of the engine, above which will be seen the big buck-eye central coupling used on all American trains. These couplings provide a very strong yet flexible union between the locomotive and vehicles of the train.