TWO SETS OF RAILS MUST BE CLEARED for out-
THE British railway companies are by law termed “common carriers”. This means that they are not in a position to select or refuse any particular freight, and, apart from a few exceptional instances, they have to accept whatever load is offered to them by the trader. Accordingly the railways have to build rolling stock ready to deal with not only unusually heavy loads, but also with loads which are out of gauge.
Most of the ordinary freight trains in Great Britain run at night, and more than 370 goods expresses travel after sundown between leading industrial centres such as London, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Cardiff. Particularly bulky loads necessitating alterations along the track are mostly transported on Sundays, when the main lines are clear.
The three chief types of freight wagons used are: first, the most common type, the covered or “box” wagon; second, the ordinary open wagon, and third, the flat wagon. Flat wagons are used chiefly for the conveyance of lengthy objects such as ships’ masts and steel rails. These wagons are fitted with “bolsters”, baulks of wood and steel uprights which keep the load in place.
In this country small capacity wagons of the 10, 12, and 20-
One of the largest freight trains on record was assembled in America, when a 15,400-
Wagon on Thirty-
The British railways, although they do not have to deal with such immense loads as this, have built some high-
Among the queer jobs handled by the railways has been the conveyance of entire farms. Transporting a farm may include not only the agricultural implements, such as motor tractors and haymaking machines, but also the whole of the livestock.
For the farm horses the usual “horse-
The cages from the ship’s hold swung ominously in mid-
The Great Western Railway once tackled a similar proposition when it undertook to transport an entire menagerie, comp-
120 TON “CROCODILE” WAGON of the Great Western Railway. The wagon carries its load distributed over 24 wheels, and is designed to meet the needs of transport for exceptional loads, including unusually bulky or heavy goods.
“Crocodiles” are more generally used for awkward loads of heavy machinery. They are flat wagons built with sunk-
Quite recently the Southern Railway carried out the difficult enterprise of moving ten rotary kiln sections, each weighing 47 tons 12 cwt, with the aid of “crocodiles”. These remarkable vehicles have also made possible the transit of ship’s rudders from the foundry to the dock.
A rudder of the S.S. Aquitania was conveyed on one of these bogie well-
The largest railway wagon set to be found in Great Britain is on the London and North Eastern Railway Company’s line. This is the 150-
The set consists of first a 20-
Another outstanding freight set for exceptional loads is the ultra-
Another monster freight wagon also belongs to the London and North Eastern Railway and is used chiefly for the purpose of transporting bricks from the great brickyards at Fletton near Peterborough. These wagons are able to take on board some 17,000 to 20,000 bricks simultaneously, according to the sizes of the bricks. The length of this type of wagon is 41 ft and it can carry 50 tons.
Among the queerest loads taken by the railway was the recent transport of two motor cruisers, one of which was brought from Goole and the other from Yarmouth to London. These two vessels, both of considerable bulk required very careful handling, but reached their destination on time schedule and in safety. The cruisers were taken from the railway depots by railway trailers and tractors to Olympia.
THE CONCENTRATED WEIGHT of this enormous transformer demands the use of special trucks, to distribute the load over many wheels. In order that bridges may be cleared the truck is of the well type, in which the load is placed as close to the lines as possible. The weight of this transformer is 93 tons, that of the special wagon alone being 47¾ tons.
PROBLEMS OF BULK are sometimes associated with those of great weight. The carrying of a huge boiler, as shown in the illustration below, provides an instance of this kind. The men who undertake this work are specially picked from the engineering staff, and the preliminaries involved in measurement and calculation along the route are offen far more exacting than the transport of the load itself. A cylindrical load requires particularly secure attachment to the bogie wagon, to obviate the danger of its working loose during transit. Heavy-
At the receiving station it is lifted by a crane on to the body of the road vehicle, the contents remaining undisturbed and untouched from the time they are put into the container to the moment it is opened by the consignee. The advantages of this system are manifold, but the chief are that the transport from factory to destination is carried out without handling, the risk of damage is greatly minimized and much time saved.
A further class of freight which offers the railway companies some difficult problems is that of perishable goods. For the conveyance of bananas, for example, special wagons have to be built. A large proportion of the banana traffic is handled by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway tapping the Avonmouth Docks, near Bristol, and also the Garston docks, near Liverpool.
By means of a circular moving belt fitted with pockets, into which the banana stems are put by hand, the fruit is taken from the holds of the cargo ship. Once out of the ship and on the wharf-
When the bananas have been landed it at once becomes necessary that they should be fully ripened. Up to this point they are still green -
A SHIP’S RUDDER is a traveller that requires special consideration, and to carry the one shown in this picture the engineers resorted to “wrong line” working, the special freight train travelling on the right-
THE LAND TRAVELS OF A MOTOR-
From the diversity and frequent awkwardness of much of the freight to be carried, the multitude of problems confronting the Goods Traffic Control departments will be readily appreciated. Nevertheless, freight time-
These programmes are not strictly adhered to owing to fluctuations in traffic. It would, for instance, be useless to run long goods trains with semi-
A skilled controller is able to make great savings in engine power, in operatives and in the movements of both full and empty wagons. Half-
It may be amusing for the layman to see wagon after wagon hauling such queer and heterogeneous objects as elephants, a lifeboat, a circus cannon -
The transport of freight -
When the number and variety of goods to be handled, from pins to elephants, are considered, it will be easily realized that certain articles of unusual bulk and weight present the authorities with some difficult problems. All “outsize” loads, or loads demanding special attention, are usually handled by the Chief Engineer’s department. This department has to decide what route and what truck alterations are to be made in moving a particularly awkward load.
Giant Electric Generators
Quite recently the firm of Metropolitan Vickers completed the casing of the most powerful electric generator in Europe. This casing weighed 42 tons, with a length of 24 ft 4 in, a height of 11 ft 4 in and a width of 12 ft 6 in. The problem was to have this great piece of machinery transported to South Lambeth, where it was to be delivered to the Central Electricity Board’s Battersea Power Station. The railways undertook the task and the overcoming of the difficulties connected with this very exceptional load. And difficulties there were, for although the railways had conveyed even heavier and longer freights, nothing of such a generally awkward bulk had been carried previously.
This gigantic casing had to travel 284 miles before reaching its destination, and in the course of the journey cross the tracks of four main-
Plans and diagrams of the route were carefully scrutinized to discover where real trouble would be likely to occur. To make doubly sure, however, that the casing would clear everything safely, a coach fitted with a frame of the same size as the casing was run over the suggested route, accompanied by a number of the engineering staff. The casing was to be brought from Manchester to Crewe by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. At Crewe the Great Western would be responsible for it until near London.
Despite the fact that engineers have often had to practise their ingenuity with outsize loads, and through their experience are capable of squeezing loads through the narrowest sections, they could not induce the casing to pass through the Wolverhampton Tunnel. The solution lay in a forty-
Apart from “wrong-
The actual transport operations occupied two week-
At five minutes past five the special train hauling its curious freight ran slowly across the main lines and made its way towards the tunnel that would take the train on to the West London track. As the engine drew the casing near the tunnel entrance, a powerful torch was flashed round the top of the load and then directed on to the tunnel’s arch. There were a few inches to spare. The “all-
Seven miles from South Lambeth the special came to another halt -
A LEVIATHAN OF THE LINE. This is the largest railway wagon set in Great Britain, having a total of fifty-
At Addison Road the line had been previously moved to one side to afford the necessary space. A batch of men standing near the bridge, armed with picks and shovels, ready to replace the track into its correct position, watched the casing go slowly past.
More excitement came at Earl’s Court, where the train had to be taken over a “wrong” line once more. As a precaution, an inspector escorted the load.
Soon after this the casing reached Chelsea Station. Here flares were burning, and more men stood by after having slewed the track almost one foot out of alignment. As soon as the “special” had passed the permanent way men were moving the line back so that normal running could begin again almost immediately.
A few minutes later a tug’s siren announced the proximity of the Thames. Then the great chimneys, each 327 ft in height, of the Battersea Power Station, the ultimate home of the generator casing, came into view; the end of the adventurous journey was at hand, but there were still two or three obstacles to be surmounted.
It was at this point that the Southern Railway’s officials took over the command. The train crossed the railway bridge over the Thames, the load just missing a partly dismantled signal, and then passed through an over-
It was exactly half-
The bogie well-
The railway carries on; there are other jobs, just as big, always coming along; they will be performed with the same efficiency. That is the wonder of railways.
[From part 2, published 8 February 1935]