Through Running of LMS Rolling Stock Over Other Railway Systems
Locomotive No. 70, 4-
PERHAPS the most singular thing about such a title as the “Pines Express” of the London Midland and Scottish Railway is that the pines are not “L.M.S. pines” at all! It may seem equally strange to see “The Devonian” running over L.M.S. metals when that company owns not a yard of track in Devonshire. Through running of L.M.S. rolling stock over the systems of other railways solves the puzzle, however. The Great Western Railway sees to it that “The Devonian is safely deposited in due course on the South Devon coast, and the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway similarly takes charge of the “Pines Express” at Bath and brings it at last within sight and smell of the pine-
If you look at a railway map of England you will see that the ramified L.M.S. system extends one great tentacle southward and westward from Birmingham, into the heart of Great Western territory, as far as Bristol, where the two companies jointly occupy the Temple Meads Station, to which we travelled in one of the two-
In the course of its long journey from Liverpool and Manchester to Bournemouth, the “Pines Express” does some curious things. It was first instituted by the London and North Western and Midland Railways in conjunction, the former bringing it down as far as Birmingham, where it was handed over to the latter. ln exactly the same manner it is now handed over from the Western to the Midland Division, and is in this way the only regular passenger train that crosses from one set of tracks to the other outside the great New Street Station. Apart from this, it is the only daily express that is worked by the Western Division from Birmingham away to the North out of the opposite end of New Street, as though it were off to London. This has the remarkable result that, whether you are travelling to Bournemouth or from Bournemouth, in either case you run out of the east end of New Street, and yet without any reversal of the train!
Again, as it leaves Wolverhampton out in the cold when going north, it is the only daily express to run over the short length of line connecting the Portobello and Bushbury Junctions just outside that town. At summer week-
A word or two now as to the composition of the train. The main section of it, including the ubiquitous restaurant cars, works through between Manchester (London Road) and Bournemouth. In pre-
There is one more coach in the Liverpool section, and that is destined for Southampton. The “Pines Express” carries it as far as Cheltenham, where it is detached in order to work over the one-
It is at 9.40 a.m. that the Liverpool portion of the “Pines Express” is due to leave Lime Street, just ahead of the 9.45 a.m. “Merseyside Express” from Liverpool to London. It is, of course, much pleasanter to be going to the seaside than to be coming away from it, so that naturally we patronise the southbound train; though, truth to tell, we are but a few miles away from the Irish sea when thus we make our start for the English Channel. Up the tremendously deep rock cutting, varied by a remarkable succession of short tunnels, we mount at 1 in 93 over the route of the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway until we reach Edge Hill. A brief stop, and we are away again at 9.46 a.m, threading our way through the maze of junctions between here and Wavertree, which need to be seen on a plan in order that their complexity may be properly appreciated. We also pass the great Edge Hill concentration sidings, which were among the very first in the country to be laid out for marshalling by gravity.
No. 5999 “ Vindictive”, one of the re-
In the ordinary course we do not travel far before the next stop, as the train is booked to call at the Liverpool suburban station of Mossley Hill, if required, to pick up any passengers for Birmingham and beyond. Very few of the expresses so booked to make a “conditional” stop at Mossley Hill ever fail to do so; even the proud “Merseyside Express” almost always makes its first halt, on the non-
The next stop after leaving Mossley Hill at 9.52 a.m. is at Crewe, where we are to meet and be attached to the Manchester portion of the train. There are four tracks as far as Ditton Junction, and we gather speed on the falling grades from Speke to Ditton, taking water at full speed from the track-
We have now to cross the biggest engineering work that we shall see on the whole route. When the Manchester Ship Canal was cut through from the estuary of the Mersey to “Cottonopolis”, to give ocean-
Of these five bridges Runcorn is the biggest. We bear to the right after Ditton Junction, mounting a high embankment, on to a brick viaduct as we circle round the great chemical works established here, and last of all passing on to the bridge itself This consists of three lattice girder spans, each 305 ft across, carrying the track 75 ft above the water level. The Ship Canal is crossed just before we get to the opposite side. The view from the bridge is very extensive. On the left the Runcorn transporter bridge and the smoky chimneys of Widnes monopolise most of the foreground, but on the right any clear day will enable you to see the mountains of Wales in the far distance.
There is further climbing from Runcorn until we reach the summit at Sutton Weaver, whence we fall until we bear to the right to effect a “flying junction” with the main line from the North, at Weaver Junction. A high viaduct carries us over the River Weaver; next we hurry through the salt country, round Winsford; and presently we are running past the east side of the great Crewe locomotive works. Here we note the remarkable suspension bridge, with its enormous span over the tracks at the north end of Crewe station, which gives access to the works from the platforms, ere we come to rest at 10.34 a.m. We have run the 32 miles from Mossley Hill in 42 minutes.
The Manchester portion, which has left London Road at 10 a.m. and called at Stockport, makes the level 25-
If we have as many its 14 coaches out of Crewe, the total weight behind the tender will be, in all probability, a little over 400 tons, perhaps 420 or so. The going will be heavy up to Whitmore, there being three miles rising at 1 in 177 from Betley Road to Madeley; but having completed the 10½ miles to the summit point in 16 or 17 minutes, we shall cover the next 14 miles to Stafford in “even time”, passing the latter in just over the even half-
We hurry past the beautiful old Shropshire town of Penkridge, with its mass of red-
Over the next 13 miles of the journey the veil is best drawn. It is through the heart of the “Black Country”, and black it is, in very truth! Iron and steel articles in vast quantities are made in the area bounded by Wolverhampton and Birmingham in the one direction, and Dudley and Walsall in the other. For example, fully 90 per cent, of the galvanised steel chair-
As mentioned earlier, we are going to leave New Street in the “wrong” direction altogether for Bournemouth, as departures of Midland Division trains from this end of the station are for Derby and the North, while the Western Division expresses leave this way for London. But when we get as far as Grand Junction we make a sharp divergence to the right, in order, at St. Andrew’s Junction, to get on to the direct line that the Midland built, avoiding Birmingham altogether by giving a straight run from Saltley to King’s Norton through Moseley. An important service of Birmingham suburban trains runs round this way, and it is also used by all the Midland freight traffic between North and South, which is thus kept out of New Street; but our southbound “Pines Express” is the only fast train making regular use of this route. After mounting some heavy gradients we join at King’s Norton the main line that has come out of New Street by Selly Oak and Bournville -
After running a bare seven miles farther, despite the fact that all signals are off we are brought momentarily to a dead stand at a station called Blackwell, at 12.32 p.m. We have reached the head of the famous Lickey incline, which is for two miles inclined at the formidable figure of 1 in 37¾. All trains, whether passenger or freight, are compelled to halt there, the former to test the brakes and see that they are in proper working order, and the latter to pin down sufficient of the wagon brakes to ensure a safe descent. Acceleration after starting is, of course, tremendously rapid, and our driver has to apply his brakes frequently in order to keep the train under proper control. The incline is, however, almost perfectly straight from top to bottom.
At the foot lies the station of Bromsgrove, and here we should keep a sharp lookout to the right, in order to see in the sidings the only ten-
The next 25 miles, to just beyond Ashchurch, form a fine “galloping ground”, mostly either level or slightly downhill; and over this length we should maintain an average rate of a little more than a mile a minute. From Stoke Junction, two miles from Bromsgrove, to Abbot’s Wood Junction, near Worcester, we run over a direct line avoiding the latter city, which is distinguished by affording the longest continuous stretch of track without any intermediate station that is to be found in the British Isles -
The famous “Lickey Banker”, No. 2290, built by the Midland authorities at Derby for banking trains up the two-
From Cheltenham it is but a short run of 6½ miles to Gloucester, allowed 10 minutes. All expresses over the West of England line of the L.M.S. stop at both places, except during the height of the summer. Just after we leave the Lansdown Station at Cheltenham, the Great Western Railway comes in on the left, and from there to Gloucester the trains of both companies run over the same joint metals. These trains include the Birmingham and Bristol expresses of the G.W.R, which run along the same track as the L.M.S. Birmingham-
We reach Gloucester at 1.28 and leave at 1.36 p.m. For a long distance the Cotswold Hills rise like a great rampart on our left hand, and the lulls of the Forest of Dean are seen across the Severn Valley on the right. There are some sharply rising grades out of Gloucester, partly at 1 in 104 and 108, to Standish, seven miles away, for most of which distance, as previously mentioned, the Great Western line from Gloucester to Swindon and Paddington runs alongside. Not infrequently, too, the trains of both companies are seen doing a thrilling “neck-
The “Pines Express” crossing Midford Viaduct, Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.
Queen Square Station is terminal, so that the blue Somerset and Dorset locomotive that is to complete the journey of the “Pines Express” comes on at the other end of the train. It is of the 4 4-
Directly we are past Bath Junction and on to the single line, the gradient begins. There are no half-
The “Pines Express” at Templecombe No. 2 Junction, Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.
The next stretch of line is still double, and for the 10½ miles to Templecombe, sharply undulating, the timetable allows 15 minutes. Between Evercreech and Cole we cross the Westbury main line of the Great Western and then, diverging to the right at the Lower Junction at Templecombe, we run up into the main station there, alongside the West of England main line of the Southern. Getting away from Templecombe is a curious business, as we have to back on the Somerset and Dorset line again, at “No. 1” Junction, before we can proceed with our journey. Then we carry on to the southward, travelling over the single line from there to Blandford at a surprisingly high speed -
At Corfe Mullen Junction we branch rightward from the Wimborne line, climb over the ridge and drop to Broadstone Junction, with severe slacks at both junctions. Presently the big expanse of salt water in Poole Harbour comes into view, and at Holes Bay we run on to the main line of the Southern between Bournemouth and Weymouth, over which we travelled with “The Thirties” three months ago. Poole is reached at 4.35 p.m. We are on the final stage, and it is a steep one, part of the climb past Parkstone being at 1 in 60. The “Pines Express” is now at last within sight of the pines, and the tonic of their smell carries our locomotive over the summit at Branksome, whence we drop gently down the steep incline into Bournemouth West Station.
Bath Station, L.M.S. The “Pines Express” is nearly ready for departure.