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LMSS Masthead

Fostering Interest in Research & Modelling of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway


A Record of Large-Scale Organisation and Management,


This brief account of L.M.S. development has so far been concerned with the provision of the main physical equipment, and obviously economy in its use is of supreme importance. Moreover, the traffic operators have much responsibility for the design of the equipment so as to meet all possible demands of the commercial officers by the most efficient and economical means.

The development of passenger services since 1923 is of interest. The first step was the introduction of a uniform system of train timing by means of train diagrams recording in graphic form all movements over the running lines. This method made it possible to make full use of the capacity of the track by plotting every movement. This became the basis of the working timetable, reflected in miniature in the published timetables. Point-to-point timings with various train loadings were then compiled to aid the work of the timing staff and to get greater accuracy. Marginal times for freight trains in advance of passenger trains were specified to help train controllers and signalmen. Loading tables for trains were also compiled, setting out the permissible loads for each class or type of locomotive working over each section. A review was made of the traffic flows, and services were introduced to suit them; other developments were the extension of dining and sleeping cars between the principal cities. In September, 1928, third-class sleeping cars were introduced on night trains between London and Scotland and other important centres. Between 1923 and 1938 the passenger train mileage was increased by 17 per cent.

The initial policy of a general acceleration of passenger train services was followed in 1937 by the remodelling and accelerating of the express passenger services between St. Pancras, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester. In the same year a high-speed service began between Euston and Glasgow with "The Coronation Scot," and the journey time on these runs of 401 miles over Shap (915 feet) and Beattock (1,014 feet) was reduced from 8¼hours to 6½ hours. With this distance and gradients the weight of the carriages on these trains was limited to 300 tons.

In 1923 no trains were timed at a start-to-stop speed of 60 m.p.h. or over; in 1933 there were five with a daily mileage of 730, and in 1939 there were 67· with a mileage of 6,900. There was also considerable acceleration of local and intermediate services. The fastest run in 1923 was the 4.15 p.m., Wolverhampton to Euston, which travelled between Birmingham and Willesden at an average speed of 59·2 m.p.h: In 1937, on a test run between Euston and Crewe, before the introduction of "The Coronation Scot," an average speed of 72·9 m.p.h. was reached. It was on this run that a maximum of 114 m.p.h. was reached, which established a British speed record.

The longest non-stop run in 1923 was performed by a summer train from Euston to Prestatyn, a distance of 205½ miles. In 1928 the" Royal Scot" trains to and from Glasgow were daily running non-stop the 300 miles between Euston and Carlisle.

From the conveyance of passengers we turn to the transport of parcels, which, in 19?3, totalled 28,905,000 and in 1938 46,365,000. Special arrangements to improve the transit of parcels included the provision of additional cartage teams; extension of delivery areas; extended hours of collection to suit regular flows of traffic in large towns; acceleration of transfer of parcels traffic between London stations; and introduction of light motor vans at small stations. Time analyses were made of all operating movements in the handling of parcels, and mechanisation followed. A number of further mechanisation schemes were in hand for the reconstruction of parcels accommodation at large stations, but their completion was interrupted by the war.

An essential in efficient freight train operation is that the trains should be worked punctually, and to enable this to be done a freight-train timetable is prepared with the same care as with passenger timetables. The freight timetable, which consists of four main volumes of over 2,000 pages, is issued to the staff concurrently with the working passenger timetable. With more powerful locomotives and improved locomotive practices, it became possible to run more high-speed freight trains with automatic brakes, thereby making possible many more one-day deliveries over long distances. For example, meat despatched from Aberdeen during the morning was delivered to the London markets and available for sale soon after midnight, after a journey of 540 miles at an average speed of 43 m.p.h. Merchandise despatched from Glasgow at 7 p.m. was available for delivery in London-soon after 6 o'clock the following morning. Fruit and vegetable produce from Worcestershire was delivered in Glasgow before breakfast-time on the day after it was gathered. By 1933 70 per cent. of the freight consignments forwarded were delivered on the day after despatch and 94 per cent. by the second day.

The steps to increase efficiency in handling freight included reviews of shunting work, a costly operation. The efficiency of freight working largely depends on trains being marshalled in time for punctual departures and on the trains being formed in proper order to minimise time spent in detaching or attaching en route. The total annual cost of . staff and locomotive power engaged in this shunting work was about £5,000,000, and the cost of shunting varied considerably between the different marshalling yards. The analysis made showed that the higher costs were mainly due to unsuitable designs of the marshalling yards for current conditions, as the purpose for which the sidings were designed had greatly changed; in others the facilities were restricted by the limitations of space. The method of " job analysis" was applied to the shunting operations on the railway, and from the detailed time studies carried out considerable economies were effected, unsuitable layouts were modified, the staging of traffic was avoided, through services were increased, and higher standards of lighting at traffic yards were installed. An outstanding example was the mechanisation of Toton "down" sidings, which are the key to the distribution of empty wagons to the Midland coalfields. This was the first yard on the L.M.S. to be equipped with rail brakes, centralised power-point operation, modernised lighting and mechanical and electrical equipment of novel types.

Considerable attention was also paid to goods terminal and cartage operations. Wide variations in shed layouts and practice existed in different areas, particularly in structures. New investigations of time analysis were made to ascertain what degree of standardisation of method in goods shed working could be achieved. The analysis work, by staff specially trained for this, broke down the operations into each component part. By the adoption of these methods, the efficiency of the goods shed working at 141 stations was improved without any structural alterations, and an annual economy in working costs of £51,000 was secured. The second stage of this investigation involved structural alterations to goods sheds, and for this purpose a beginning was made at the smaller stations to test new ideas of layout under actual working conditions. Structural alterations were then carried out at 44 of these stations at a cost of £140,000. This research work, though its continuation was impeded by the war, was followed by large-scale reconstructions, embodying entirely new ideas, of the good sheds at Derby, and Birmingham. New accommodation was also provided at other goods depots, such as Oldbury, Soho and Tipton.

Following the first world war, the expansion of Greater London was encouraged by the construction of new roads, and firms which became established in the new areas adjacent to the roads expected the same rail transit for their traffic as that obtained by firms situated close to the main London goods stations. To meet these demands the cartage services from these main stations were extended. A new type of cartage establishment and equipment for such extended cartage was later considered and a cartage sub-depot was built at Old Ford, with appropriate cartage equipment, at a cost of £14,500. The underlying object was to transfer miscellaneous traffic in bulk by high-capacity motors between the main stations and the sub-depot, at which point the traffic was sorted into local collection and delivery units on a specially designed island sorting deck. This sub-depot was brought into use in November, 1940, on a modified basis, and proved very useful in absorbing the miscellaneous . traffic formerly dealt with at Poplar, where the accommodation had been seriously damaged by heavy air raids.

Throughout the system these and similar steps are under constant examination by a specialised staff devoted to the mechanisation of manual work, reductions of time in transit of goods and economy in working costs.

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