Behold they shall come with speed swiftly

One o’clock saw a large party of us, chiefly City men, amongst whom were
numerous civil engineers, waiting at King William Street booking-office
to descend into the bowels of the earth by one of the semicircular
lifts, a novelty in point of size. Our turn having come, we duly filed
into the elevator. The telescopic doors clashed upon us, and we stood
for a second or two silently expectant, feeling like a batch of
condemned criminals on a gigantic scaffold waiting for the hangman to
draw back the fatal lever that would launch them into the other world.

Noiselessly the lift descended to an apparently fathomless depth, but in
reality, I believe, some 90 or 100 feet. When released by the janitor,
we found ourselves in a small, well-lighted, cool, and spotlessly clean,
white-tiled station, whence was discernible a couple of small tunnels
side by side, leading to unknown regions, seemingly all too narrow to
accommodate even the miniature cars waiting for us at one of the narrow

Inspecting the tunnels, the classical man of our party, a wag in his
way, who had hitherto made no remark, was heard to mutter something in
Latin, which, on being coerced, he admitted was out of Virgil, and was
translated thus: “This is the spot where the way divides in two
branches.” In vain we pointed out that the quotation was inappropriate,
as the ways were _parallel_. He was obdurate, so we left him to his own

To most of us accustomed to roomy Pullmans and commodious railway
carriages, the cars, though comfortable, seemed cramped, especially in
height. The signal given, off we started, when we noticed that the cars
fitted the tube with such nicety and economy of space that, could the
windows have been let down, we could easily have touched the iron plates
of the tunnel. We realised, too, that although there was no smoke or
smell, the railway was by no means noiseless; neither, in the opinion of
several of the experts present, was the running as steady as on the

A hint had been given us that at some point where the line dipped and
rose again the cars might come to a temporary standstill. As we rather
uneasily recalled this, the speed gradually slackened, and finally the
train stopped altogether, and simultaneously the incandescent lights
began to pale, and at last subsided into filaments of sickly red. The
situation was not a pleasant one. There we were; many of us with
important engagements awaiting us later in the day; most of us with
wives and children who would expect us home as usual when evening
arrived, and grow anxious at our absence. There we were sealed up in a
tube, for all we knew, at a point beneath the Thames. Not a sound
reached us from the locomotive, or, indeed, from anywhere. Were we thus
to remain indefinitely? For walk out we could not, there being no room
outside the carriages. Would some memorial tablet let into the side of
London Bridge, months hence, recall the fact that near it a goodly
company of highly respectable citizens had perished in a living tomb?

I don’t think we talked much. It was luncheon-time; we were hungry, and
we felt like the occupants of the snowed-up cars in one of Mark Twain’s
stories, who gloomily eyed one another as starvation threatened,
calculating upon whom, by an ingenious and complicated system of voting
previously agreed to, would next fall the lot of being sacrificed for
the benefit of the rest, and I believe I found myself unconsciously
speculating on the plumpness of a youthful stockbroker standing by my
side. But after a very few moments of suspense the train rattled on
again, the lights reappeared, and presently we drew up at the Borough,
the first station on the Surrey side.

Railway booking-offices are not usually things of beauty, least of all
those on the Metropolitan, District, and suburban lines. Here, however,
was a surprise, for we found quite a picturesque stone-and-brick
building on the ground-floor, a cupola surmounting the prettily designed
entrance, and a small dome with lantern by way of roof. And this was a
sample of all the stations along the line.

The Borough recalled the Marshalsea that once stood close by; and there
opposite was St. George’s, Southwark, where Little Dorrit, accidentally
locked out of the prison, was allowed by “the sexton, or the beadle, or
the verger, or whatever he was,” to take refuge in the vestry, where,
years afterwards, she signed the marriage register when wedded to Arthur

The next stoppage was at the Elephant and Castle–not the tavern of that
name, where in the past on Derby Day the superabundant holiday traffic
usually became hopelessly congested, but the City and South London’s new
station, close to Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, Rabbits’ great boot warehouse,
and Tarn’s vast emporium, that seems to occupy most of Newington
Causeway. Onwards to Kennington Common, once the place of public
executions for Surrey, now a well-kept miniature park. Beyond it,
Kennington Oval, associated with cricket all the world over; and finally
we arrived at Stockwell, the then terminus of the line, since extended
to Clapham, where Tom Hood used to go to school at a house “with ugly
windows ten in a row, its chimney in the rear,” a style of architecture
of which many specimens still exist round and about the Common.

At Stockwell we visited the generating station, recently much extended,
and provided with entirely new plant, and, wondering at and admiring all
we saw, learned from the chief engineer that the contretemps _en route_
was due to a slight defect in the new and untried power-machinery; and
thus at the point where the dip in the line was greatest, the cars

An excellent luncheon restored us all to eloquence and equanimity,
extinguishing the cannibalistic feeling of half an hour ago, and,
returning without any incident worth recording, we emerged once more in
the City, to be greeted by the noise of the traffic that ever surges
around King William the Fourth’s statue.

Those were the “green salad” days of London’s Pioneer Electric Railway
Line. Now it runs without a hitch, and has been extended north as far as
the historic “Angel,” thus giving a direct route between Clapham and
Islington. It has powers to exchange traffic with the Great Northern and
the City Railway _viâ_ Old Street, and also to connect itself with the
Baker Street and Waterloo Electric Railway at the Elephant and Castle
Station; and in a new building at Finsbury Pavement it now has
commodious head offices.

At the last half-yearly general meeting the chairman, Mr. C. G. Mott, in
the course of his speech, stated that the Board aspired to have a
thoroughly first-class terminus in the City of London, and had deposited
plans with this view. They proposed to construct this station between
the present Bank Station and the King William Street statue.

That the City and South London Railway is most useful and popular is
shown by the number of passengers it has carried–some ninety millions
since its opening–the returns for last year showing about eighteen
millions, over a total route of about seven miles. For the convenience
of travellers, it eventually will have subways, connecting its Lombard
Street Station with the Bank Station of the Central London Railway, and
it already has them from its new London Bridge Station to the London,
Brighton, and South Coast Railway. Finally, it can boast of possessing a
station below a church–a unique position, I believe. St. Mary
Woolnoth’s foundations were completely removed, the vaults cleared out,
and the whole replaced by huge iron girders, whereon the sacred edifice
now rests, with the booking-office below.


The month of August, 1898, was unusually warm, and the heat was felt as
much in the City as anywhere. Straw hats were universal; the shady side
of the street, if there happened to be one, was thronged; secluded
alleys and courts were resorted to by the knowing ones who could afford
the time to linger there; and even highly respectable merchants were to
be found sitting in shirt-sleeves at their writing-tables and wishing,
with Sydney Smith, that they could “sit in their bones.”

At the junction of the Poultry with Victoria Street, shadowed by the
Mansion House, from each side of the road a mysterious hoarding had just
been removed, revealing an iron railing enclosing a small area with a
mysterious staircase bearing the announcement that it led to the subway
to the new electric railway, connecting the City with Waterloo Station.
Descending a few steps, and emerging into a tunnelled incline, the
perspiring pedestrian quickly found that here, if anywhere, was a refuge
from the heat, the coolest place in London, and that it was well worth
while, on the pretence of urgent business across the water, to pay
twopence each way, merely to drink in the refreshing air wafted
backwards and forwards along subway, platform, and tube.

This was the Waterloo and City Railway, a short deep-level line on the
tube principle, nearly 1¾ miles long, burrowing under the Thames’ bed.
At the terminus, by rather prolonged inclines and staircases, passengers
could walk to the main or suburban platforms of Waterloo Station and
catch the trains for Wimbledon, Hampton Court, Surbiton, etc.

Like the City and South London, this railway meets a great want. Before
its opening, City men living down the London and South Western line had
no alternative but to catch a South Eastern train from Cannon Street or
Charing Cross; to take an omnibus _viâ_ the Strand across to Waterloo
Bridge; or to cab it by devious routes _viâ_ Blackfriars Bridge. Now
they can reach Waterloo with ease, comfort, and economy.

Under agreement, the line is worked by the London and South Western
Railway Company. The electrical equipment is by the famous firm of
Siemens Brothers, the generating station being up a blind alley


_By permission of the_ _“Tramway and Railway World” Publishing Co.,

the dismal arched entrance to Waterloo from York Road. Each train seats
208 passengers; the average speed is 18 miles an hour, and its
usefulness is proved by the fact that over two and a half million
ordinary passengers were carried by it in one half-year, _i.e._ to
December 31st, 1902 (not counting season-ticket holders), while the
receipts for that period were £17,400.

During the busy hours of morning and evening the large trains are used
and always fill up rapidly, but in the slack times of midday single
motor-cars, each carrying 50 passengers, are sufficient to cope with the
traffic. The cars are rather stuffy, and, like the train cars, are
narrow and low. At each end is a small partitioned-off “cab,” where sits
a motor-man. No tickets are issued from the booking-office; but, as in
an omnibus, the conductor comes round and collects the fares, giving a
punched voucher in return, which is retained by the traveller.


There are few overhead, or, rather, elevated, railways in the world.
Somehow they do not seem to be popular, and the tendency, in England at
least, is rather towards burrowing like the mole, than soaring above the
street level.

In Germany there is a wonderful instance of electrically driven overhead
line between Elberfeld and Barmen, on the mono-rail principle, the
trains hanging from tracks suspended high above rivers and public roads.
At the great Beckton gas works there has been in use since 1894 an
iron-built miniature railway elevated on pillars, and it is a curious
sight to witness busy little engines incessantly hauling coal trucks
from the pier to the retort houses. An ingenious example of the
elevated principle is to be seen at the Victoria Station, Manchester,
where a railway on a very reduced scale conveys passengers’ luggage from
one platform to another, and idlers are never tired of watching it. The
track, a double one, is suspended from the roof and runs between
platforms five and six. The motive power is electricity, and the motor
is placed between the wheels and the track, and it lifts and lowers a
basket which holds about 15 cwt. of luggage.

A wonderful instance of a _very_ elevated railway existed at Beachy Head
while the new lighthouse was being built 600 feet distant from the base
of the cliff, at that point 400 feet high. It conveyed material to the
site, the descending load drawing up the ascending empty “skip” on the
overhead suspension principle.

Our New York cousins have, in their elevated steam railway, long been
familiarised with the system, but for Londoners it possesses the fatal
objection that the occupants of the cars as they pass along can look
into the front windows of the houses and spy upon the occupants. Running
along docks, however, elevated railways are not objectionable; and the
earliest example, in this or any other country, of electricity applied
to overhead traction is at Liverpool.

Extending along the Mersey–that noble river whose tidal movement is
said to be four times the outfall of the Mississippi–for a distance of
6½ miles are the Liverpool Docks, in importance undoubtedly the first in
the world, but, until the Overhead Railway was opened, exasperatingly
inaccessible to business men whose time was valuable, and bewildering to
strangers by reason of their immensity.

Along the line of dock, it is true, ran broad-wheeled omnibuses built to
run on the low-level dock railway, but so slow, in consequence of the
pressure of traffic and the necessity for frequent shuntings for the
passage of goods trains, that to reach the farthest dock usually
occupied over an hour. To improve upon this it was proposed, as far back
as 1852, to construct a high-level railway; but nothing practical came
of it until 1888, when the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company took over
the parliamentary powers obtained by the Dock Board, and setting
steadily to work, created their line for passengers only, and, from the
first, achieved a great success, the number of travellers amounting to
many millions annually.

On the 4th of February, 1893, the railway was appropriately opened by
the ex-Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, whose devotion to the science of
electricity is well known. Pressing a button at the base of a silver
inkstand (subsequently presented to the Marquis as a memento), the
engines that generated the electric current were set in motion, and by
special train his lordship was conveyed over the seven miles of line,
and afterwards entertained at a banquet by the Mayor, when, in an
excellent speech, he dilated upon the prospect of electricity becoming
the motive power of the age.

In the following month the railway was opened for public traffic, and,
with its thirteen stations, its five minutes’ service, and its cheap
fares, practically extinguished the omnibuses, light or heavy.

From the Overhead Railway a splendid view is obtained of the busiest
locality perhaps in the empire. Below are the railway trucks packed
close with imported merchandise of all kinds: cotton from America and
the East; grain from the ends of the earth; beef, bacon, cheese, butter,
flour, and fruit from the New World; wool and tallow from Australia and
Argentina. Waggons


_By permission of the_ _Liverpool Overhead Electric Railway Co._]

and carts filled with Manchester goods, hardware, machinery, chemicals,
and every imaginable kind of manufactured goods are alongside the big
liners that come into port, discharge their cargoes, load up, and are
out in the Mersey and off to sea again in a few days. Truly Liverpool is
a wonderful place, and although her greatness as a seaport has been
threatened by the opening of the Ship Canal to Manchester, it will be a
long day before she surrenders her claim to be the chief marine approach
to Great Britain.

A one-rail railway! What kind of novelty can that be, emanating no doubt
from the prolific brain of some enthusiastic engineer possessed with an
idea, a fad, a craze–call it what you will! We are accustomed to highly
respectable trains running in an orthodox manner on double rails. A
projected, many-railed track we have also heard of to carry ships bodily
across the Isthmus of Panama. But the idea of a single-rail “Flying
Dutchman” or “Wild Irishman” seems chimerical.

It is not so, however, and the system has been solemnly and deliberately
sanctioned by Act of Parliament.

Nowadays one need not be astonished at anything. Take cycling, for
instance. Long ago, when velocipedes–three or four-wheeled, uncanny
machines–were mere toys wherewith youths loved to dislocate their
joints on the lower terraces of the Crystal Palace, no one dreamt that
bicycles, outraging all the laws of gravitation and practically
mono-wheeled, would ere long be used on road and field and moor, on
mountain-side, on steppe and desert, over barren Asiatic tundras and
snow-clad Yukon plains–in short, wherever adventurous mankind has

The mono-rail train, like a bicycle, runs on one linear track, but,
unlike that hopelessly collapsible machine, requires no balancing, and
cannot capsize, and under proper conditions is the safest known method
of travelling at very great speed.

“_Faire prose sans le savoir_” is a familiar aphorism of Molière, but
perhaps it would astonish most of us to be calmly told by modern
engineers that all our lives we have, _without knowing it_, been
travelling on mono-railways! They assert that although it is true that
the ordinary engine with its coaches rests on a _pair_ of rails, the
fact that the space between the rails is cut away is immaterial, as it
is rendered a single track by the rigidity of the carriage axles, and if
these were loose, of course the train would overturn.

Nature has no example of mono-railwayism (to coin an expression), unless
it be the gossamer or shooting spider, that upon a single invisible
thread spun from its body ascends to aerial heights on a kind of
self-manufactured mono-rail, Dame Nature being too lavish and too wise,
in the perfect freedom she accords to birds, beasts, fishes, and
insects, to restrict their movements to one undeviating path.

In the moral world there have always been mono-railists, men of one
fixed idea, from which they could not, or would not, budge–apostles of
an ambition, a creed, a theory, a political conviction. The world has
had its Alexander the Great, its Napoleon, Buddha, St. Paul, Mahomet,
Martin Luther, Ignatius Loyola, Wycliffe, its Palissy, George
Stephenson, Mungo Park, John Bright, and Cobden.

It has been left to the inventive mechanical genius of the nineteenth
century to develop the mono-rail system. Doubtless those inscrutable
people, the Chinese, knew of it, and applied it in some way long ago;
and perhaps the yet more mysterious dwellers in ancient Egypt–whence
all wisdom seems to have descended–utilised it after some unknown

Blondin, in his marvellous feat of trundling a wheel-barrow containing
a man along the high-level rope, used a hempen mono-rail; and the wire
cables stretching across the Thames at the reconstructed bridges at Kew
and Vauxhall, acting as travelling ways to convey the excavated soil
from the coffer-dams in large iron “skips” or buckets, were another
species of mono-rail; while at home in brickfields, and in mines, and on
plantations in distant lands, miniature railways have been used for
years to carry clay, ore, and produce, over plain and hill and dale.

In India a peculiar kind of tramway truck has been in use for some time,
with two or three flanged wheels which run on a single rail, and a large
balance-wheel on one side of the truck to prevent it toppling over.
Produce of all kinds can easily be drawn upon it by a couple of coolies,
and its efficiency on country roads has been highly spoken of.

Germany presents us with a recent and curious example of the application
of the principle to locomotion. In the Wupper Valley near Dusseldorf and
Cologne there are two towns, Barmen and Elberfeld, about eight miles
apart, mutually engaged in chemical and textile industries, and this
separation of the sister-towns was an obvious disadvantage to both. But
now they are joined by a wonderful railway, constructed on an elevated
line running six miles of its course above the River Wupper, a tributary
of the Rhine, some sixty to a hundred feet wide. The carriages are
suspended, and work upon a single rail, a development of the travelling
cable-way system. This rail is rigidly fastened to an iron framework of
girders, and supports the cars hanging therefrom by means of two steel
“bogies” with two wheels. Thus they can pass round sharp curves without
slackening speed and with the greatest safety, its motive power,
electricity, being applied by two motors on each carriage which drive
both wheels with equal force at a speed fixed at thirty-one miles an
hour, and attainable fifteen seconds after starting.

As elevated railways of this type are somewhat costly, and a simpler and
cheaper form would be a desideratum, a short line across country was
built as an experiment at Cologne-Deutz. The stays, measuring from 9·6
feet to 28·5 feet, were made either of wood, or of iron tubes, and met
at the top in a cap, from which was jointed the sheet-iron supports that
carried the mono-rail. By means of this jointed connection, the strain
was always of a central character, and, therefore, more easily borne. At
intervals of about 660 feet a couple of stays were firmly braced
together, in order to give stability to the overhead structure and to
take up the longitudinal thrust. In consequence, even with light
locomotives, the traction power was very high, and on the line at Deutz
it was found that a locomotive drawing two carriages full of passengers
could ascend a gradient of 1 in 6 with perfect safety.

But a means of adapting a mono-rail to every condition had some time
before been thought out. In 1883-4 Charles Lartigue, the eminent French
engineer, developing the principle conceived by the great Telford,
constructed some small lines in Tunis and Algeria for carrying esparto
grass. The cars were drawn by animals in a special form of mono-rail,
the model upon which Mr. F. B. Behr, ASS. INST. C.E.–who modestly
disclaims all originality in the matter–has worked for years, greatly
improving in practical details the original design, and constructing for
the first time mono-rail trains that have been successful in the
carriage of both goods and passengers by steam and electricity.


_By permission of Mr. F. B. Behr, Ass. Inst. C.E._]

The Lartigue single-rail system, as perfected by Mr. Behr, is as
follows, but of necessity my description is a mere outline.

Dismissing all preconceived ideas of rails laid down upon the ground, we
must imagine a heavy double-headed steel rail firmly bolted on to the
summit of a girder supported by trestles, the whole rigidly framed upon
massive sleepers. We thus have a permanent way somewhat resembling a
continuous A-shaped metal viaduct, raised about five feet from the
surface, or a succession of iron barriers–such as road-menders make
use of to divert the traffic–set ends on, secured to each other and to
the ground. Now take an ordinary railway car with seats arranged as in
an omnibus, but with two additional rows back to back in the centre.
Remove the axles and wheels, extending the sides and ends of the car
almost down to the ground level, thus providing beneath the flooring an
enclosure with ample room for the locomotive machinery. All along the
bottom of this enclosure is an opening or space, about five feet
high–extending between the middle rows of seats–that fits the A-shaped
viaduct, so that the car is suspended, or, as it were, sits upon the
mono-rail, whereon roll six vertical grooved wheels that, when set in
motion by the electric current, propel the cars. Thus we have a train
apparently without wheels, these together with the apparatus being
completely hidden away between and beneath the passengers’ seats. On
each side of the A-shaped trestle are fixed two guide-rails fitting
close into horizontal grooved wheels effectually checking all
oscillation. In front is the bogie locomotive motor with a pointed bow,
the stern of the car also being pointed, so that the entire arrangement
resembles when seen from above a great stickless rocket with a sharp and
flexible snout.

As the sister isle was the first to adopt electricity to a railway
(_vide_ Chapter II.), so was she the pioneer of mono-railism. In County
Kerry, Munster, near the Shannon’s mouth, stands the little town of
Listowel, and 9½ miles distant is Ballybunion. To connect these a
mono-railway for passenger and goods traffic was opened on March 1st,
1888, and has worked ever since without any difficulty. The trains are
drawn by a steam locomotive divided in two, one on each side of the
mono-rail–a kind of twin-screw arrangement–and with their smoke-stacks
and giant lantern between them, present a strange and rather comical
appearance, while the track meandering at its own sweet will across
country without fencing of any kind, adds to the novelty of the little

Its great safety has been amply demonstrated by the only mishap that has
occurred to it. Some miscreant had deliberately removed the fastenings
from over thirty yards of the line at a critical point where a reverse
curve began, and close to a bridge. At full speed, a train carrying 200
passengers came up to the loosened rail, which gave way, breaking the
coupling chains and, luckily, bringing into action the automatic
Westinghouse brake. The permanent way was ruined by the shock, but the
fall absorbed the force of the reaction, and deposited the carriages
quietly on the ground without injury to anyone, and without even
breaking a window. On an ordinary line the train would have been thrown
off the metals into the river with terrible consequences. Shortly after
the line was opened, the Lartigue system was adopted in France, from
Tours to Pannissieres in the Loire Department.

The Ballybunion and Listowel Railway is the indirect father of a
modified form of mono-rail which is expected to appear this year at the
Crystal Palace. It is called the Electric Mid-Railway, the invention of
Mr. W. R. Smith, and as the line is to connect the existing railway
station with various points in the grounds, it should be well patronised
at the modest penny fare which is to be charged. Being an entire
novelty, it has a specially good chance of success in this particular
situation. The single rail is placed below the carriage, the weight of
which is balanced upon it after the fashion of a bicycle. On each side
of this single track runs a trestle carrying a rail on a level with the
centre of gravity of each carriage. This rail serves the necessary
purpose of supporting the carriage and of also preventing derailing.

A similar device had been suggested–and possibly has been carried into
effect on the New York and Washington D. C. Line–when it was proposed
to elevate a track above the earth on a single line of upright beams,
the trains to be kept steady by an auxiliary rail on either side, but
which would only come into play on rounding curves.


In Belgium, Mr. Behr, who throughout his labours there received the
personal encouragement and patronage of King Leopold II., successfully
built an experimental high-speed mono-rail line at Tervueren in the
neighbourhood of Brussels, as an annexe to the Exhibition of 1897. To
find suitable ground was the great difficulty. The line had to cross ten
public roads, and in the absence of compulsory powers, leases for the
land had to be arranged with grasping occupiers and owners. The soil was
bad, big cuttings and embankment were unavoidable, and finally the line
consisted of nothing but steep, up-and-down gradients. In fact, all the
conditions were most unfavourable, notwithstanding which, the result of
the experiment was conclusive in showing that with the mono-rail and
perfected electrical traction, very high speed, double that of existing
passenger express trains, could be attained with absolute safety, a
principle which Mr. Behr had for a long time past been particularly
impressed with, but which he maintains is not possible on the ordinary
two-rail track, even with electricity as a motive power.

In November, 1901, Mr. Behr went to Berlin, and investigated the
experiments carried out during forty days by a number of engineering
experts on a military track laid down between the German capital and
Zossen. It was hoped that a speed of 160 miles an hour would be attained
and maintained, and, as a matter of fact, starting from a low speed, the
train gradually reached that of 87 miles; then, for a moment only, 95
miles; and for an instant of time, 100 miles per hour; but it was at
once discernible that the ordinary two-rail permanent way, though
straight, could not bear the terrific strain imposed upon it; the rails
bent at many places, while the hundred-miles-an-hour rate had so
destructive an effect as to render impracticable any attempt to create a
higher record. The air resistance was found to be considerable. With a
square-fronted instead of a pointed coach, it was appreciable, and the
suction behind the train resembled the pressure of the water at the
stern of a mail steamer, and was calculated to equal two-thirds of the
“bow” resistance. These experiments went to prove that for excessive
velocity an ordinary railway was absolutely unsafe.

A year before this, a steam locomotive train had been tried in America
by the Baltimore and Ohio Railway Company, on the Adams principle of
reducing the atmospheric resistance to a minimum. It consisted of six
cars, a tender, and an engine of fifty-seven tons. The entire train was
sheathed down to within eight inches of the track. There were no
projections, and all the windows were flush; the cars were coupled close
together, and the rear one was run off to a point, the train resembling
one long sinuous and flexible carriage.

With this comparatively light engine it is said that the forty miles
between Baltimore and Washington were covered in thirty-seven and a half
minutes. But it was claimed that with a more powerful locomotive the
train could have been easily run at the rate of one mile in thirty-five
seconds, or nearly two miles a minute.

These speeds appear tremendous, but custom would soon reconcile us to
them. Our forefathers thought fifteen miles an hour terrific; and one of
the objections to Stephenson’s ideas was, that at such a speed, not to
mention a twenty-or twenty-five-mile rate, no human being could draw

Since then we have quietly acquiesced in and equally welcomed a style of
travelling varying from 35 to an average of 58 miles an hour, and even
consider it no great feat to run a special viceregal train from Euston
to Holyhead–263½ miles–in five hours without stopping, and are not
astonished to read of last year’s record run of the mail express from
Boulogne to Paris–168 miles–at an average speed of 68 miles an hour!

Still, 120 miles every sixty minutes without stopping is a large order,
and in practice would give some remarkable results. For instance, a
resident at Putney could be whisked from the station nearest to him, and
thence to a point adjoining his office–say in Seething Lane, some seven
miles off–in less than five minutes. Brighton could be reached from
town in twenty-five minutes; Dover, in forty; Edinburgh, in three hours
twenty minutes. Inverness–663 miles away–could be arrived at from
Euston in six hours twenty minutes, instead of the fifteen hours
thirty-five minutes of the ordinary express; and Paris–allowing one
hour thirty minutes for the Channel passage–in three hours forty-two


Now, the contention of the advocates of the monorail principle is,
that only by that system can very high speed be safely attained; and
when one comes to closely examine the cars in which this
hundred-and-ten-miles-per-hour travelling is achieved, confidence is at
once inspired, because of their low centre of gravity and consequent
unlikeliness of derailment.

There remains only one question–_Cui bono?_ What useful purpose can be
served by being able to get from Liverpool to Manchester in twenty
minutes instead of over an hour? On an emergency, such as a sudden
necessity for the services of a medical specialist, a matter of life or
death perhaps, or on the occasion of any crisis in domestic or
mercantile life when the instant presence of some one distant individual
is imperative, it might be of immense service. But in the usual course
of business, do not existing railways bring merchant and broker,
importer and manufacturer, face to face quickly enough, and are not
telephones and telegraphs and the post sufficient to carry through big
transactions between the centre of the cotton trade and the great city
on the banks of the Mersey? Public opinion, which demands increasing
speed in every phase of life, especially in travelling, declares they
are not sufficient; for we live in an impatient age when every hour of
detention on a transatlantic passage is begrudged.

Therefore it is not to be wondered at that in 1900-1, after the most
exhaustive inquiries and criticisms, the royal assent was given August
17th, 1901, to the Manchester and Liverpool Electric Express Railway,
which was duly authorised by Act of Parliament. It must be premised that
the line, like our London Tube, does not provide for goods traffic; that
the time occupied by the journey being so short, neither luggage-van,
lavatory, or refreshment buffet is required, and that all trains consist
of a single car, couplings being a source of danger at so great a rate
of speed. But as the trains run every ten minutes, and carry about forty
persons each time, a large passenger traffic is provided for.

Well–a broker has been telephoned for by his client, a wealthy
cotton-spinner in Manchester, anxious to consult with him personally; so
he at once leaves the flags of the Exchange, and after an eight minutes’
walk arrives at the Express Railway Station, near the entrance gate of
the Blue Coat Hospital in School Lane. He considers that in getting into
and out of the lift he has lost two minutes, but he just catches his car
and starts for a run of 34½ miles to Manchester, and since it is his
first experience of lightning travelling, he notices everything
connected with the new line. There are many curves, he finds, all
necessary in order to avoid conflict with the vested interests of other
railway companies; the gradients, he observes, at points about
three-quarters of a mile from the Liverpool and Manchester stations, are
steep–1 in 25, and 1 in 30–but of service in accelerating and breaking
the trains.

Unlike the Listowel mono-rail line, the Manchester and Liverpool express
is fenced from end to end with an unclimbable barrier, and as there are
no level-crossings and no means of access, there is no possibility of
trespassing. Also, for the security of the workmen employed in
maintaining the track as on an ordinary railway–the system of “packing”
the sleepers and inspecting the various parts being common to all
railways–a clear space of three feet is left between the passing
trains, and strong posts, ten feet apart, are fixed along the centre of
the space for the labourers to hold on by when an express rushes by.
Collisions, our broker quickly perceives, are impossible, there being no
switches, and notwithstanding the multitude of passengers (some twenty
thousand per day) there are never more than two cars on the line at a
time, and there are no stoppages between the two termini.

For signalling purposes, the line is divided into four sections of about
five miles each, and as the train passes by, its electric motor
automatically operates the signal and immediately “blocks” the section
behind it, so that the train following cannot advance until its leader
has cleared the five-mile division.

The driver and conductor are both together in the front part of the
train, so that the conductor has ample time to look out for the signals,
to apply the brakes, and assist his mate. The brakes are of the
Westinghouse pattern, and the two combined can stop the cars in about
800 yards, even at the speed of 110 miles an hour. These can be aided by
Mr. Behr’s ingenious device, which Sir William H. Preece considers quite
practicable, viz. louvres or shutters, which, when opened, materially
increase the air resistance.

Past Toxteth Park, Garston, Halewood, Widnes (whose only rival in sheer
ugliness is perhaps London’s Stratford-by-Bow), and exactly half-way,
Warrington, conspicuous for the inkiness of its river Mersey, and noted
for its glass, wire, and chemical industries; famed for its network of
waterways, especially for the great but evil-smelling ship-canal; noted
in history–when but a hamlet, with a clear trout-yielding stream–as
the camping-ground of the young Pretender when on his march to Derby in
1745; and associated with Mrs. Gaskell (whose “Cranford” is identified
with Knutsford, a neighbouring village), the two Bishops Claughton,
Viscount Cross, Luke Fildes, R.A., and “Warrington” Wood, the sculptor.

Close by, in the parish of Great Sankey, is the power-generating
station of the railway, the current obtained being 15,000 volts on the
triphase alternating system, converted in five sub-stations placed along
the line, into a continuous 650 volt current. Every car has four
traction motors arranged in pairs, each with a full-speed capacity of
160 h.p., equal to 110 miles an hour. The cars are comfortably
upholstered; the seats are separated and placed back to back in the
middle, those along the sides facing inwards, as in the Twopenny Tube.
The lighting is, of course, excellent, and the ventilation perfect,
though to prevent accident the windows are fixed, and the doors, while
the train is in motion, are automatically locked.


_By permission of_ _Mr. F. B. Behr, Ass. Inst. C. E._]

As regards the cost of this novel undertaking, our Liverpool friend had
beforehand ascertained that the capital had been fixed at £2,800,000,
and that an average of eight persons per train would more than cover the
expense of the enterprise.

Swiftly leaving Warrington in the distance, the express shoots
onwards–past Eccles, Pendleton, and Salford–and reaches the terminus
at the west side of Deansgate, in the busiest part of Cottonopolis,
where, again using the lift, our honest broker speeds to the Exchange in
another eight minutes, and in forty-five minutes after leaving Liverpool
is in deep business conference with his principal at Manchester.

Contrast this with the existing facilities of the old system for rapid
transit between the two places; and those who know their Manchester and
Liverpool well, will at once be able to decide whether or not the
electric express better meets the requirements of those to whom every
minute is of consequence.

The London and North Western Railway (which has a perfectly straight bit
of track to Manchester, unequalled, except on the Great Eastern between
Littleford and Lynn–21 miles–and on the South Eastern between Nutfield
and Ashford–32 miles) runs expresses without stopping from Lime Street
and Edge Hill to the Exchange Station, Manchester, doing the journey in
forty minutes.

The Great Central Railway, by an indirect route, _viâ_ Garston and
Widnes, runs expresses from their Liverpool station (St. James’s) direct
to the Manchester Central, in from forty to forty-five minutes; but on
neither line is there such a thing as a ten minutes’ service, the
intervals between the direct expresses ranging from forty-five minutes
to so much as four hours.

Plans, it is said, have been submitted to the Board of Trade for a
mono-railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The proposed construction is
similar to that of the Behr mono-railway between Liverpool and
Manchester. It is quite unlike the canny Scot to rush into sensational
experiments for a speed of 117 miles per hour, especially as a few
years’ waiting for the completion of the Liverpool line would prove or
disprove the possibility of the scheme.