More Famous Trains of the LMS
SUCH a title as this, if announced two or three months ago, would, I fancy, have aroused no small speculation among readers as to what particular trains could be referred to. It was suggested to me by the name of a booklet recently published by the LMS, called “The Track of the 25’s” describing the route over which these expresses run. I will relieve your curiosity to some extent straightaway by explaining that “25” refers to minutes; the trains about to be described leave their terminal, station at 25 minutes past the hour.
“Systematic” timetables are no novelty. Their purpose is to relieve as far as possible the intending passenger from the trouble of consulting timetables by giving him a train service at exactly even intervals. On a suburban route, and especially a route without many branches, this is a comparatively simple matter, but on a main line it is not so easy. Connections and through carriages, the necessity of giving better services to some intermediate towns than to others (involving more stops in some schedules than in others), freight train movements, and many other factors, all tend to upset systematic working.
One of the oldest systematic train services in existence in this country is that connecting Liverpool and Manchester on the Cheshire Lines. For many years an express has been provided over this route in both directions at even hourly intervals, leaving the two extremities at hall-
Then the Great Western followed suit, establishing what is in some respects the most completely systematic timetable of all the groups, seeing that departures from many important towns for London are as systematically arranged as those out of Paddington. For the West of England you leave London at 30 minutes past the hour; for Birmingham and the North at 10 past; for South Wales at five minutes to, and for the West Midlands at a quarter to. Similarly you leave Birmingham for Paddington at the even hours; Cardiff and Bristol at a quarter past the hour, and Newport at 35 minutes past, with certain exceptions.
It is not possible, of course, to make all these expresses take the same times on their journeys, as some make more stops than others; so that the arrivals are not as systematic as the departures. Systematic departure times are the more important of the two, however, and are greatly appreciated by business men and others making frequent use of the trains.
Thus far the two Northern railway groups have not been seized with the desirability of this arrangement of timetables -
Every one of the “25’s” stops at both Leicester and Derby. In pre-
The set of coaches used on the chief Midland Manchester trains is usually of the same formation. From the engine backward on the down journey, you will find a third-
On many of the “25’s” additional vehicles are provided. For instance, the 10.25 a.m. and 12.25 p.m. carry portions for Manchester (Victoria) and Liverpool. This in the former case comes off at Derby, to be transferred to the slower 9.25 a.m. from St. Pancras, which the 10.25 has overhauled en route at Kettering. The 12.25 and the 2.25 p.m. have through coaches for Buxton detached from the former at Derby and from the latter at Chinley. The 4.25 p.m. works on the rear an additional dining car for Manchester; the car has come south from Manchester to London at 8.55 a.m, and as there are more dining-
Generally speaking, therefore, the “25’s” are heavier south of Derby than they are north of that point. This is fortunate, as, although all the fastest running of the journey must be performed between Derby and St. Pancras, and more especially south of Leicester, by far the hardest climbing has to be performed between Derby and Manchester. Here the “25’s” have to penetrate the heart of the Peak District, breasting a maximum altitude above the sea of no less than 880 ft at Peak Forest Station. It is of interest to note that this summit falls short of the more famous Shap, the West Coast main line to
Scotland, by only 35 ft and. what is more, the worst of the climbing is spread over no more than 14½ miles, from Rowsley, as compared with the 24½ miles from Milnthorpe up to Shap Summit.
Seeing that nothing of greater power than the 4-
We have now to make our customary trip over the route of the “25’s”, and with such a wealth of trains at our command, it is perhaps difficult to choose the one that will give us the most interesting journey. On the whole I am inclined to favour the
12.25 p.m. down. The load out of St. Pancras is regularly nine bogie coaches, and as only one of these is dropped at Derby -
Arriving at St. Pancras just after midday, we ascend into what is, in reality, the roof of the station, in order to find our train. As I explained in a previous article, the ties of the magnificent “all-
The engine is, of course, one of the familiar Midland compounds. The high-
An imposing view of the St. Pancras Hotel. The Railway Station may be seen on the extreme left of this fine Gothic structure.
The run now before us falls short of the “century” in its length by just under a mile. For this distance of 99 miles and a fraction the faster “25’s” are allowed 109 minutes, which means an average speed of 54.6 m.p.h. Before the War the best down trains made the run in three minutes less, but they were considerably lighter than the nine-
There is plenty of “collar-
Once past mile-
The winding valley of the Ouse is now responsible for undulations in the main line for some miles beyond Bedford, during the course of which our engine takes water from Oakley troughs. Then the high ground between the Ouse and Nene Valleys involves us in the hardest of all the climbs between London and Leicester, known as Sharnbrook bank. This is 5½ miles in length, and for the upper 3½ miles is at 1 in 119. which will cause a drop in our speed to but little over 40 m.p.h. Meanwhile we notice the goods lines on our right, first of all rising above us from a point beyond Oakley troughs, and then falling below us, finally into Sharnbrook Tunnel, which accommodates the goods lines only and is over a mile in length. In this way the goods lines (which after the tunnel follow a different location entirely as far as Irchester South Junction, to reduce to a minimum the amount of cutting necessary), have been kept down to a maximum steepness of 1 in 200.
Sharnbrook Summit is 59¾ miles from St. Pancras, and is dignified to the extent of figuring in the working timetables, the express trains being given definite times to passing this point. The 10 miles from Bedford to the top will probably not take us more than 11 minutes, and a swift descent of Irchester bank should bring us over the wide curve through Welling-
One of the “25’s” at full speed, near Mill Hill. As will be seen, the Standard Compound Locomotive No. 1100 was fitted as an oil burner. This was done for experimental purposes, and the apparatus has since been removed.
Seven minutes later we are running through the important junction of Kettering, 72 miles out. A couple of miles further on the direct line to Nottingham leaves us on the right, and 74½ miles from St. Pancras (Glendon Junction) the goods lines, which have accompanied us uninterruptedly to this point, come to an end, the freight traffic for Leicester direction being passed on to the main lines.
There is another long climb from before Kettering to Desborough Summit, at mile-
Five minutes suffice for the station work here, and at 2.20 p.m. we are away for Derby. This is one of the most level stretches on the Midland system, and a schedule of 34 minutes proves more than ample. Between Loughborough and Hathern we pass over the second set of track-
Promptly at 3 p.m. -
A striking view of the triangular station at Ambergate, LMS. The “25’s” take the left hand curve.
Ambergate is like the “gateway” of the Peak District of Derbyshire. Through fine scenery and many tunnels we pass on to Cromford and Matlock Bath, and then under the “nose” of High Tor to Matlock, whence we hurry on to Rowsley. Here we note large and important marshalling sidings on the left of the train, where the loads of northbound trains are rearranged in preparation for the heavy climbing ahead. From Derby we should take about 14 minutes over the 10¼ miles to Ambergate, and 27 minutes to clear Rowsley, 21½ miles distant.
Now our train begins to mount rapidly, and the speed falls in proportion. For 15 miles from Rowsley to Peak Forest the gradient but seldom falls below 1 in 105 in steepness, and for the last 3¼ miles it increases to 1 in 90. There are three short downhill “breathers”; one just before Bakewell; one through the tunnel that ushers us into the magnificent scenery of Monsal Dale, and one before Miller’s Dale Station -
Wonderful views are obtained as the train runs high above Miller’s Dale. The final climb is then accomplished in a deep and treeless -
Up till now we have passed through many tunnels, but none to compare in miles of Dove Holes, which we thread immediately the descent begins. On emerging we get fine and extensive views of the Peak Country, as we dash down through Chapel-
At Cheadle Heath the Liverpool coaches are dropped off the rear, to continue their journey over the Cheshire Lines Committee’s tracks to Warrington and Liverpool. We have now 13 minutes left from our re-
On arrival at 4.25 p.m, we cannot but be struck by the extraordinary similarity between the interior of the station from which we started and that of the one at which we have now arrived. Both were built on a very similar plan. And if we want to go back to renew our acquaintance with St. Pancras, we have but to cross the platform at Manchester and board a return express leaving at 4.35 p.m. -
2.25 p.m. Down Manchester Express near Mill Hill. LMS 4-
[From The Meccano Magazine, December 1928]