Through Running over the LNER and GWR Systems
Over the Banbury-
IT may fairly be claimed that the late Great Central Railway, now part of the London and North Eastern system, in prewar days did more than any other British railway to popularise comfortable cross-
Attention was first directed to Bournemouth, and a through service was established in 1902 between the popular South Coast resort and Newcastle-
Since that date many other similar services have been established over this valuable Woodford-
But the most spectacular of these through runs is that of the Aberdeen-
So you must not think of the “Aberdeen-
No; the value of such a through train as this, as indeed with the others I mention, is in the facilities they afford to the inter-
This has been a lengthy preamble to my subject matter proper; but I wanted to begin by explaining both the origin and the purpose of these cross-
At the other end the train stops at Newport and Cardiff, from which, as just mentioned, it runs into Barry. During the summer months, however, other South Wales ports are linked up, for the express runs on from Barry through the Vale of Glamorgan to join the South Wales main line again at Bridgend, whence it calls at Port Talbot and Neath, and terminates at Swansea. Over the route followed between Cardiff and Bridgend this is the only express train ever seen, but still more singular is the link that is used between Banbury and the Severn Valley. This is a sleepy single-
And now the time has come to make the trip. You can have your choice of rolling stock, as the London and North Eastern Railway provide the train one day and the Great Western the next. The L.N.E.R. train travels south on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning on the alternate days; while the opposite workings are carried out by the Great Western train. You can easily remember the order, as each train is in its own home territory over the week-
The L.N.E.R. use a third-
As we are to be in charge of the London and North Eastern Railway for the major part of the journey, we may as well start at the Newcastle end. We will assume, however, that this is a day on which the train is being worked in the south-
The engine out of Newcastle may be one of the 50 three-
Thus five minutes over two hours for the 80 miles from Newcastle to York, stops included, is very moderate going; but it is customary with these cross-
At York, where we run to No. 14 platform, outside the wall of the station, a fresh engine is waiting to take us to Sheffield. A variety of locomotives is employed between York and Sheffield, and we may have a North Eastern “Z” or “V” class “Atlantic”; a 4-
To Ferrybridge, near Pontefract, the lines are those of the old North Eastern; then, to near Mexborough, we run over the track of the Swinton and Knottingley Joint Railway, first built jointly by the North Eastern and Midland Railways, and now joint L.N.E. and L.M.S. Property. This forms a link of equal importance with that from Woodford to Banbury in maintaining these through train services between the North-
We leave York at 11.45 a.m. for the longest non-
From Ferrybridge past Pontefract -
Presently we see the Midland main line of the L.M.S. nearing us on the right, as we cross the Dearne Valley. We are now slackened severely at Dearne Junction, and we run down to join the Great Central line coming from the Barnsley direction and Wath marshalling yard towards Doncaster. Even worse is to come, as less than a mile later we leave this line to travel round what must be one of the very sharpest curves on any main line in Great Britain.
This is known as Mexborough West Curve, and it turns our train through considerably more than a right-
Sheffield is reached at 12.50 p.m., and if we are to time we shall just see the disappearing tail of the “North Country Continental” by which we travelled so recently, on its way to Liverpool. It is always rather a mystery to me why these two trains cannot be made to connect, as they would give an excellent “all-
We are to reverse in the Victoria Station at Sheffield, and as we run in we see our engine waiting for the next stage of the journey, with our through coach from Hull already attached. The engine will almost certainly be one of the handsome Great Central “Atlantics”, which did such excellent service on the London trains -
We have already travelled between Sheffield and Woodford, only in the reverse direction, when we had our run on the “3.20 Down Manchester”, that not much need be said about this section of the journey. Between Sheffield and Nottingham we shall probably take our lunch, and at the same time remark the singular fact that lunch on this express costs a different amount on different days. If it is the Great Western train, you may have the excellent two-
Leaving Sheffield at 1 p.m. precisely, we set out over the 38¼ miles to Nottingham. Rising at 1 in 144-
From Nottingham to Leicester is the fastest booking of the journey, 27 minutes being allowed for the 23½ miles, which requires an average of 52.2 miles per hour. In earlier days the northbound “Ports-
There is probably a change of engines here, and for the next stretch to Banbury we get either a fresh “Atlantic” or possibly one of the big four-
Newport Station in course of reconstruction by the Great Western Railway Company.
Then follows the final L.N.E.R. stage of 25½ miles to Banbury, allowed 35 minutes -
Here we may be surprised at the type of engine that is awaiting us. It is none other than one of those handy and very numerous Great Western “Moguls” -
We leave Banbury at 3.37 p.m., and run 3½ miles along the Great Western North main line to our divergence to the right at King’s Sutton. For 1¾ miles the branch is double line, but after that we take to single-
Now for the interesting note I was going to give you about those Midland coaches that accompanied us from Newcastle to York. They followed us out of York at 12.8 p.m., as far as Dearne Junction. There they passed on to the Midland main line and ran into the Midland Station at Sheffield, which they reached at 1.21 p.m., 21 minutes after we left Victoria Station. Since then they have travelled down through Derby and Birmingham, and now, if you please, between the Midland stations of Cheltenham and Gloucester, they run for six miles from Lansdown Junction over exactly the same metals as ourselves, and just five minutes behind us! This really is a rather remarkable fact.
From Gloucester onward we have to travel over the original main line to South Wales that the Great Western used from London before the Severn Tunnel had been bored. It is practically level and there is some good going, the time allowed between leaving Gloucester at 5.18 p.m. and reaching Newport at 6.24 p.m. being 66 minutes for the 44½ miles, including the stop at Chepstow. In the opposite direction the “Ports-
There is much of interest to be seen along this stretch, as from Newnham onward we have the wide estuary of the Severn on our left for nearly 25 miles. Approaching Lydney we see the striking bridge that has been thrown across the Severn between there and Sharpness, carrying a single line that is the joint property of the G.W. and L.M.S. Railways. The only occasion when express trains are passed over this structure, which can carry but limited locomotive weights, is when the Severn Tunnel is closed at times on Sundays for repairs. Another interesting bridge, designed by Brunei, and of considerable size, carries us across the mouth of the River Wye, at Chepstow.
Hurrying on, we run over the Severn Tunnel -
The Great Western Railway have recently spent a great deal of money in modernising Newport Station, and the work is not yet complete. One of the alterations has been a considerable addition to the length of the main platforms, and the down platform, at which we are now stopping, is no less than 1,500 ft. in length. From here to Cardiff is but a short run of 11¾ miles, and takes 17 minutes. We see near both towns many hundreds of coal wagons, bearing witness to the busy neighbouring industry of the Welsh Valleys, which pour their product down to Newport and Cardiff for shipment at their extensive docks. The docks at Newport, Cardiff, Penarth, Barry, Port Talbot, Swansea and elsewhere in South Wales, together make the Great Western Railway the largest dock-
Cardiff is reached at 6.47 p.m., and the only section now remaining is the short run of 9¼ miles to Barry. Leaving the big General Station at Cardiff at 6.55 p.m., and stopping only at Barry Docks, we come to rest in Barry at 7.20 p.m.
Since 9.30 this morning we have travelled 352 miles, and our average speed of nearly 36 miles an hour over this difficult cross-