The “Kent Coast Express” passing Bickley, hauled by a 4-
LAST month we travelled from Victoria Station, London, to Newhaven by the Southern Railway Company’s “Newhaven Boat Express” and this month we are to investigate another of this company’s London-
The name “Kent Coast Express” is applied to a good many trains. On a summer Saturday, indeed, such trains follow one another at roughly 10-
We find a corridor train at our disposal. It has in the centre the ubiquitous first-
The locomotives generally used on this section are therefore the “rebuilt” 4-
Getting away punctually at 3.15 p.m, we have, as was the case last month, to mount the steep incline to Grosvenor Road Bridge, but this time with a 0-
The entrance to Victoria Station, the “ gateway to the Kent Coast.” Part of the space in front is an omnibus station.
There are some sharp undulations through Brixton to Heme Hill which, since the rearrangement of its layout, we may now pass at 40 miles an hour. This is fortunate, as now we have to begin the stiff climb at 1 in 95 to Sydenham Hill, up which we shall drop to 30 miles an hour or so. We see the towers of the Crystal Palace, but under the ridge that carries that structure we are to tunnel. As we enter the mile-
Soon after passing Shortlands the 1 in 100 ascent recommences, and continues on through Bromley to Bickley. Here, at Bickley Junction, we part company with the electrified lines, which diverge to the right for Orpington Junction, where they join the old South Eastern main line on its way from Charing Cross to Folkestone. Now that he has got clear of the congested suburban zone the driver doubtless feels that he can breathe more freely, and so he “opens out” over the switchback, though easier, length to Sole Street.
We may have taken from 25 to 27 minutes for the first 14 miles to Bickley Junction, but it is possible at last to get into speed. We swing down the short descent to St. Mary Cray, touching for the first time 60 miles an hour, and slightly exceeding this rate, probably. Then we climb to Swanley at a minimum of about 50, and develop some high speed on the falling grades thence to Farningham, reaching from 70 to 73 miles an hour here. From Farningham we have to rise steeply to Meopham, passed at about 45 miles an hour; and then, at Sole Street, we are faced with the worst bank on the route. Fortunately it is in our favour -
The fine lattice-
We now bend round to the right by a long and very sharp curve, with Rochester Castle here a prominent object above the opposite river-
Rising gradients again lie ahead, at first through tunnel, to Gillingham, and then on to Rainham, after which we get a short and steep descent to Sittingbourne, which should raise the speed to 65 an hour or more. Easy gradients continue, on past Teynham and speed may rise further, if our driver is energetic, to 68 or 69 m.p.h., before we begin to breast the rise that precedes Faversham. This is climbed at a minimum of about 50 miles an hour, and then we have to slow severely, as the Margate route diverges sharply to the left just after Faversham Station. It is all but 18 miles from Chatham to Faversham, and with a good engine and driver 20 minutes should suffice.
For many miles along the Kent Coast the line is practically level, the only rise of note being over the ridge on the end of which Herne Bay has been built. Before reaching this, which entails an ascent partly at 1 in 100 and will pull our speed down to about 45 miles an hour, we have run for some miles at 60. The subsequent descent should afford us a final spurt at 68 to 70, ere we sight Westgate, the western suburb of Margate. Presently we draw up in the fine new station at Margate, the last 22 miles having taken us 24 or 25 minutes. We have just about a minute in hand, and have made an excellent run over a most difficult road. Both at Margate and at Ramsgate the Southern Railway management have followed the most commendable policy of concentrating their traffic -
We can travel on to Ramsgate by the “Kent Coast Express” if we so desire. It is 5½ miles away, and the heavy intermediate gradients, with the length of stops involved at Broadstairs and Dumpton Park, prevent an earlier arrival at Ramsgate than 5.14 p.m, practically two hours after leaving Victoria. I have a better plan for you, however. Get out at Margate, and wait for the up “Kent Coast”. It is due just before half-
The down “Margate Express” passing through the outskirts of London. The locomotive is one of the 4-