UNTIL January 1, 1923, when the Railways Act of 1921 brought into being the Big Four of to-
The Highland, with a route mileage of nearly 506, chiefly single track through wild and mountainous country, will receive fuller attention in another chapter. The remaining Scottish railway company was the Glasgow and South Western, with a route mileage of 493. This railway had a little monopoly in the south-
LOCH TREIG in the Western Highlands of Scotland. This photograph was taken from the window of a London and North Eastern Railway train passing along the loch shore.
With the coming into force of the Railways Act, the Caledonian, Highland, and the Glasgow and South Western became merged in the London, Midland and Scottish, while the North British and the Great North of Scotland had their identities sunk in the present London and North Eastern Railway. Thus these two great companies now divide Scottish railway traffic between them. A peculiar thing happened as a result of this incorporation of the Great North in the LNER. The old North British had access to Aberdeen only by means of running powers over the Caledonian between that city and Kinnaber Junction, which is a little to the north of Montrose. The LNER, as its successor, still exercises running powers over the Caledonian section of the LMS. But the main line of the Great North, or the Northern Scottish Division of the LNER, as it is now called, comes no farther south than Aberdeen. The result of this is that, to-
The old North British Railway, though the biggest system in the country, was not the most popular; that distinction was possessed by the Caledonian. The best Caledonian expresses were equal in comfort to the finest trains in England, while those of the North British certainly were not. The beautiful blue Caledonian engines, with their chocolate underframes and their trains of neat brown-
THE EDINBURGH EXPRESS leaving Aberdeen. The train is drawn by two LNER locomotives, the “Thane of Fife”, an engine of the well-
The LMS West Coast Route affords at Carlisle a most impressive entrance to Scotland, whether made in the early morning or in the late afternoon. Though it is something like one hundred and ninety years since armies went into action in these islands, Carlisle still resembles a frontier town. The station itself is named after the Citadel, and passengers for the north can see that grim fortress still frowning at the Scottish hills across the flat plains of the “Debatable Land”. Crossing the Border between Gretna and the signal cabin at Quintinshill, the train has a forty-
THE SCOTTISH RAILWAY SYSTEM is illustrated in this map showing the main lines and the principal towns they join.
The Aberdeen and Inverness lines part company at Stanley Junction, a little to the north of Perth. The line from Stanley Junction to Inverness, which formerly belonged to the Highland Railway, is the most remarkable of all British main lines. It takes the passenger over the Grampians by way of Drumochter Pass, the summit level being at an altitude of 1,484 ft above the sea, between the stations of Dalnaspidal and Dalwhinnie. This is the highest level reached by any British main line. Another formidable summit on the same line is reached at Slochd Mhuic (1,315 ft), between Aviemore and Inverness. Up the Tay valley and onwards up Glen Garry, past Blair Atholl, the country crossed is exceedingly beautiful. Across Drumochter Pass and beyond, trees become smaller and not too plentiful, while the hills are grandly wild. North of Inverness, at Dingwall, the main line divides, one branch going off to the West Coast at Kyle of Lochalsh, while the other follows a devious course up to Wick, Lybster, and Thurso. The last-
This Highland main line is a difficult proposition; powerful engines and the double heading of important trains have always been the rule. The old Highland company was the first British railway to introduce the 4-
To the Granite City
Returning to Perth, the main lines to Dundee and Aberdeen must be mentioned. The first-
The LMS serves also a number of important towns and watering-
“NORTHUMBERLAND”, LNER engine No. 2758 of the “Shire” class, passing through Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, hauling the up Kirkcaldy train. Kirkcaldy, in Fife, is 26 miles from Edinburgh by rail across the Forth Bridge.
The London and North Eastern Railway enters Scotland by two gateways, Carlisle in the west and Berwick in the east. Several of its local cross-
The LNER main line from Berwick to Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen, is, of course, simply a link in the “Great North Road of Steel”, and, as such, is already too well known for further comment to be necessary. It is worth pointing out, however, that the company has the whole of the industrially rich county of Fife to itself, a monopoly previously enjoyed by the North British Railway. The LNER has changed and greatly improved railway operation in Fife. To-
Far back in the last century the North British amalgamated with the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and it was this company which built the present main line of the LNER from the Scottish capital to the Scottish commercial metropolis. The route is flat and makes for easy running all the way from Edinburgh to Cowlairs, on the northern fringe of Glasgow. Thence it drops into the city by means of one of the steepest inclines on any British main line. For years -
CROSSING THE ROYAL BORDER BRIDGE. The bridge spans the River Tweed at Berwick and forms a railway link between England and Scotland. The structure is 2,160 ft long, and has twenty-
Altogether there are three main lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow, for, in addition to the rival LMS line, formerly belonging to the Caledonian, the LNER has an alternative route through Bathgate. The old Edinburgh and Glasgow main line is the most interesting of the three, even though trains now enter and leave the Glasgow terminus in a normal fashion. The North British locomotive works were situated at Cowlairs, and heavy repairs and re-
Trains from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Bathgate enter Glasgow through an underground line, known locally as the “Low Level” Glasgow, one of the greatest cities in the British Empire, is provided with three underground railways. That of the LNER runs parallel to the Clyde, and forms the southern half of the circular Glasgow City and District Railway. This resembles the London Metropolitan and District lines, but it is worked throughout by steam. A journey through it when traffic is heavy is better as a cure for asthma than as a pleasant experience. Nevertheless it carries a great deal of traffic, main line as well as suburban; and, although clouds of smoke roll up the stairs every time a train enters a station, thousands of people use the “Low Level”. It passes under the Queen Street terminus at right angles to the main lines above.
The LMS also has a “Low Level” underground line, likewise worked by steam traction, though recently trials have been made with a Diesel locomotive. This also runs from east to west, but it is nearer the river than the LNER line, and passes through “Low Level” platforms at the Central Station. Compartment coaches, by the way, are used invariably, as some of the trains travel quite long distances out into the country.
IN THE COUNTRY OF THE GLENS. A London and North Eastern Railway train passing along a stretch of line between the stations of Arisaig and Mallaig.
While on the subject of underground lines, Scotland’s only tube railway, which is known as the Glasgow Subway, cannot be overlooked. This line is the second oldest tube in the world, for it was opened in 1896, being forestalled only by the City and South London Railway. It was formerly operated by cable traction, steam engines in a central power station providing motive power -
To return to the main line railways, we must not omit the West Highland line of the LNER. This line runs northwest, along the right bank of the Clyde, then up past Loch Lomond, across the LMS at Crianlarich, and then away over the wild country of Rannoch Moor to Fort William. This is one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the British Isles. From Fort William a more recent extension runs through splendid country to the Inverness-
Scottish towns are usually better served than their English sisters in the matter of railway stations. The most important stations in London are not always exactly central, Waterloo lurks in Lambeth, Euston hides behind Bloomsbury, and Paddington is remote indeed. But the two largest stations in Glasgow, Central and St. Enoch, both belonging to the LMS, are right in the middle of the city. So, too, is the LNER terminus at Queen Street. Other Glasgow termini are Buchanan Street (LMS), which is less distinguished in appointments and position, and, on the LNER, Bridgeton Cross, and Hyndland. The two latter serve the trains passing through Queen Street Low Level. They are notable more for the operating convenience they afford than for the number of passengers using them, Queen Street and the through station of Charing Cross taking the lion’s share of the passenger traffic.
A VIEW FROM THE ABERDEEN EXPRESS as the train crosses the Forth Bridge.
Edinburgh possesses the best placed and third largest station in Great Britain This is the famous Waverley Station of the LNER, situated under the North Bridge in the ravine dividing the Old Town from the New Town. The station contains two terminals, end on to one another, with the station offices between, and with through lines on either side. It covers eighteen acres, and contains nineteen platforms, of which the longest has an overall length of 1, 680 feet. Over 600 trains use it daily. Adjoining the station is the North British Hotel, built by the old company whose name it bears The line enters Waverley from the east, passing under Calton Hill. Westwards it runs through the great ravine below the castle, and passes through a tunnel under the hillock called The Mound. The Mound is now eminently respectable, and the National Gallery stands on it, but once upon a time it was the city’s garbage heap!
The Edinburgh terminus of the LMS is the old Caledonian station at Princes Street. In size and layout it cannot be compared with Waverley, but it is a convenient and well-
The General Station at Perth is rather fine, though not so well situated as most big Scottish stations. It is a smaller edition of Waverley station at Edinburgh, having the same semi-
Most curious of all the Scottish stations is that of the LMS at Inverness. The layout is in the form of a triangle, with the base on the north side and the apex pointing southwards. The terminal blocks are in the apex. Trains from the south enter Inverness from an easterly direction, while those going on to the north run out westwards along the shores of Beauly Firth. Local trains enter in the normal way, but the principal expresses run right past the station along the northern side of the triangle, halt beyond it, and then back into the station. Thus a train from the south backs into the northbound platforms, so that the connecting train for Wick and Thurso is alongside it. Inside the triangle are the locomotive repair shops of the LMS Highland Division. In the old days the Highland Railway used to build many of its locomotives at these shops, but engines are no longer built at Inverness.
THE END OF THE RAILWAY in Scotland. This interesting photograph shows a train at Lybster, Caithness, the last station on the Northern Section of the LMS. Lybster is 742½ miles from Euston.
In Scotland, as in England, the earliest railways were completely isolated from one another, and from anything in the nature of a main system. The first Scottish railway was from Kilmarnock to Troon, opened in 1811, horses providing the tractive power. It had its first locomotive in 1817, one built by Stephenson at Killingworth. At first the engine smashed the light cast-
As might be expected with a mountainous country, grand bridges, viaducts and heavy engineering works are common on the Scottish railways, though, curiously enough, there are no long tunnels in the Highlands.
At the present time railway travel in Scotland is comfortable, but, on the whole, slower than in England. This is not the fault of the railway companies. The main lines are very mountainous in places, and the flattest part of the country -
Though the individuality of the Scottish railways has gone, probably for ever, they will always present features unfamiliar to southern eyes. Since they serve some of the most beautiful country in Great Britain, as well as places of great historic interest, they deserve a visit from everyone who can find his way across the Border.
AN OLD NORTH BRITISH TRAIN, assisted by an endless rope, climbing the Cowlairs incline outside Queen Street, Glasgow. To-
[From part 16, published 17 May 1935]
“Scottish Mountain Railways” in Railway Wonders of the World