Contents Listing - Articles & Features in this issue
News of the month
Vintage electrics of the Pennines - B. K. Cooper Improving the DMU image Yorkshire's shortest railway - 2 - N. Winfield Anthony J. Lambert and Michael Whitehouse Spring in Spain A. H. Bryan Holden Steam special M. R. Connop Price From Fakenham with the grain train Rails round Pontefract - Photo Feature Steam at Motherwell - Photo Feature Riding the switchback to Looe - Robert Barton Southern 33s - Photo Feature The Nilgiris Railway - Rodney Dalmaine "20mph is theoretically possible" - J. H. Parker New books Letters Motive power miscellany Club notes
RIPPLE of mirth hung briefly in the air-conditioned atmosphere of the carriage. The occupants had just been informed that they were on board the 17.25 to Manchester, and as the train was now gathering speed near South Hampstead they no doubt found it amusing to contemplate the discomfiture of any passenger who had believed himself to be riding in the 17.30 to Liverpool. There would have been no excuse for such a blunder. The departure indicator at Euston had shown the platform, and the ticket inspector at the barrier had not only said "on the right" but had jerked his head in the appropriate direction.
Even so there can be moments of doubt. Two identical sets of coaches stand on opposite sides of the same platform and neither carries any visible evidence of its destination. How reassuring those old-fashioned roof boards used to be! We know of a man who actually did get into the wrong Pullman at Watford Junction and found himself on the way to Liverpool instead of Manchester, with as little opportunity for second thoughts as an astronaut sealed inside his capsule, and far less sophisticated arrangements for communicating with the outside world. On this occasion British Rail made adequate amends later in the shape of various telephone calls and the travellera€a railway enthusiast in his less abstracted momentsa€"thoroughly enjoyed his subsequent journey over the one-time Liverpool & Manchester line. Now that the yellow waistline nameplates on Western Region trains have gone, it would appear that the Channel Islands boat trains to and from Waterloo are the only services still carrying destination boards (and even this may stop when the anomaly is recognised). This is surprising at a time when operators of commercial vehicles, from removal contractors to the owners of poodle trimming parlours, regard them as useful mobile advertisements of which other road users may take note. Since the days of private owners' wagons, too, firms have been well aware of the value of railway vehicles in catching the casual glance and perhaps implanting a message. Colman's mustard and Cerebos salt gained a further publicity bonus from having their wagons reproduced as scale models. At one time small single-name boards appeared on Southern Region multiple-unit trains to Bournemouth and Weymouth. Their virtual disappearance would be more regretted had they not tended always to say ""Waterloo"" irrespective of the direction in which the train was going. It is said that the boards rattled in a manner distracting to motormen, but if the will for a cure was there, it should not have been necessary to explore the frontiers of science to find one. In the present situation an incurious commuter could travel for years on British Rail without finding out where the trains which pass through his station are going.
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