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Editorial to Part 16

PERHAPS it is the record recently made by the LNER locomotive “Papyrus” that has prompted so many correspondents to ask if I am going to devote a chapter to speed and speed records. Part 17 will contain such a chapter, which my colleague, Mr. Cecil J. Allen, has written. This will deal with speed records from 1895 to the present day.

Speed is perhaps the most provocative of all railway topics. Very many legends and strange stories are connected with it. Many fantastic claims have been made. At the time of writing the world’s record for any train is held by an American streamlined Diesel-driven train, which crossed the United States from New York to Los Angeles in 56 hours 56 minutes. It is claimed as part of this wonderful performance that the train maintained a speed of 120 miles an hour for two miles.

THE record for a steam-hauled train is, as we know, held by a British engine. The record for the world’s fastest regular steam train also belongs to Great Britain. This is the “Cheltenham Flyer”, whose average speed from start to stop is 71·4 miles per hour. France and Germany also have claims to very high speeds; the “Flying Hamburger” does a maximum speed of 100 miles an hour, and on the Paris-Orleans electrified lines trains have accomplished 93 miles an hour. Next week’s chapter will deal with many famous runs and speed records. It will be supplemented by four pages of photogravure containing remarkable illustrations of trains at speed, both in this country and in the United States of America.

Speed points the way to future developments. Some of the most fascinating stories are those that describe the efforts of the pioneers who are laying the foundations of the future. Many of their efforts are odd and unconventional. Many people laugh at them, or dismiss them with a gesture almost of contempt.

MANY people laughed at the early aeroplanes, yet to-day Australia is scarcely more than a week-end dash by air. The early motor-car met with every sort of opposition, yet to-day Sir Malcolm Campbell can drive a car at an average speed of nearly 300 miles an hour. These wonderful

achievements are due to those restless men who wanted change - who looked ahead.

IT is the same with the railways. Next week, in Part 17, there will be a chapter on the Railplane System of transport. In practice the system consists of a streamlined car which is suspended from bogies running on a single overhead rail. The car is propelled by air screws, the engine being either oil or electrically driven. The railplane is designed for maximum speeds relative to the track of 100 miles per hour or more. A test line has been erected near Glasgow, and details of this system, which, it is claimed, has innumerable advantages over other forms of transport, will be fully discussed in next week’s chapter.

In Parts 11 and 12 I have already dealt with the railways in Australia, but one chapter is certainly not sufficient to describe railway development in that vast continent. Next week there will be a further chapter describing railways and railway development in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. There will be a detailed description of the main routes, of expresses that run over them, and of the general characteristics of the system. This chapter will also include details of the testing of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

A CHAPTER that begins in Part 17 will describe the largest railway station in Europe - Milan Central. Milan is the commercial and industrial capital of Italy, by reason of its valuable position. It was proposed to rebuild the great Italian centre where through trains converged from all parts of Europe. The war of 1914-1918 held up early developments, but in 1925 a vast scheme of reconstruction was begun. This ultimately cost £17,000,000 and was completed on July 1st, 1931, when the great railway station, which is both beautiful and practical, was opened.

THIS week’s cover shows Germany’s latest streamlined locomotive. The whole of the boiler front, buffer beam, and cylinder head are covered with curved plates, offering the minimum of air resistance of the locomotive, which is said to be capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph. The doors in the plating, which, it will be noted, is carried almost down to rail level, give access to the smoke-box and to various portions of the mechanism. The electric headlights, with the siren just in front of the chimney, give a striking impression of this new continental giant.