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Editorial to Part 7

TO talk about trains is to talk about something which is, I hope, one of our most fascinating hobbies. When the first number of this Part work was issued a few weeks ago I anticipated a very large mail-bag, but what has struck me as being more than ever significant is the fact that with the publication of each succeeding issue I receive more and more letters. I invited correspondence - and the invitation has been accepted to the full, and by the most diverse types of readers, all with one common bond: that of an enthusiastic interest in railways.

Some correspondents have made very helpful suggestions and have almost apologized for having done so; but that is an attitude of mind that I would most strongly discourage, for I feel that all of us who have this subject at heart should be clubbable people. And, being such, there could not possibly be any objections to the exchange of ideas and the receipt of suggestions. I have received critical observations, too, on one or two minor points of opinion which were open to dispute, and on which more than one view might be held. These things are good things in themselves, as they keep our mutual interest alive and convince me that those who have found, and are still finding, Railway Wonders of the World something unique among modern publications, are very alert readers.

REVERTING to the different types of readers of this work, I am still receiving letters from those whose lives are so far apart in daily occupation that it seems a pity that I cannot bring them personally together under the common hobby of railways. There is the serious student who writes to me, and the storekeeper (who tells me that he spends all his Sundays making a miniature railway to carry his two children); there is the engineer, and the inventor who asks me to sponsor a new method of braking - which, alas, I cannot undertake to do; there is the junior mind that astonishes me with its enthusiasm and knowledge of certain aspects of railway development, and, indeed, every other kind of individual who, by supporting this work, is giving additional life to an interest that was already very much alive. I cannot deny the pleasure I get from all this. And I cannot deny, too, that the receipt of commendation from railway authorities from different parts of the world has been acceptable.

Sir Ralph L. Wedgwood, C.B., C.M.G., Chairman of the British Railways General Managers Conference, whose services to railway development are more than worthy, has written to express his appreciation, on behalf of our own railways, of the present work - which I am glad to say he considers a mine of information and a model of good production. And alongside his communication is one from a New Zealander, now living in France, who demands that I shall tell the public all about railway developments in New Zealand. It is an odd coincidence that the latter correspondent should write just as I was sending a chapter on that very subject to the printer. I had, in fact, planned it for an early number, and it will begin in Part 8. The chapter will include the fascinating facts that lie behind the great Raurimu spiral alignment, one of the most remarkable stretches of line in the world.

IT should be of interest if I refer briefly to Part 8, which will be on sale next Friday. Another of the “Famous Train” series will be included in this issue. This time we shall deal with the famous “Golden Arrow”, which is really the first connecting link with all parts of Europe. It is a romantic train. The chapter will deal fully with the train itself, the locomotives used between London and Dover and Calais and Paris, and the railway details of the route.

Then we shall describe the Westinghouse Air Brake. This braking system is in use on the London Underground and on the electric trains of the Southern Railway. To those readers who have asked for a chapter on vacuum brakes I would say that this aspect of braking will be covered in a later chapter. It is a vital subject and one of more than usual interest.

The Whitemoor Marshalling Yards provide an added interest, for they are among the most remarkable of all centres for the sorting of wagons into trains for the distribution of goods to all parts of the country. And next week we shall present another photogravure section, showing full-page illustrations of “head on” views of American, Canadian, British and German locomotives. The contrasts are notable, each type having almost a strictly “national” air about it.

I have found that special sections dealing with locomotives and locomotive practice have been favourably received, and I intend to cover fully this most important side of railway operation. The topic is, I know, a wide one, but it is my ambition to have in the complete work representative types of railway engines of every country in the world.