If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Edward Thompson: Wartime C.M.E. Discussion 2012 - 2021

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, May 2, 2012.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,389
    Likes Received:
    40,322
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    You'd need to show that the high speed exploits of the LNER (and LMS) attracted significant additional patronage. AIUI, the very fast LNER trains were fairly low seating capacity; and moreover were operationally very awkward in timetabling terms, requiring clearing the mainline for a long period ahead because of how rapidly a fast train caught those in front.

    How did LNER passenger numbers and revenue grow during the "streamliner" era? If they didn't, it sounds like the publicity might not have been worth the operational cost. By contrast, boring mundane electrification on the Southern in the same period with regular clock face timetables drove traffic demand.

    Tom
     
  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,152
    Likes Received:
    6,339
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    It would be a big task but if the question is availability etc then why not a like for like comparison (if you have the data)

    Thompson pacifics vs Gresley Pacifics
    B1 vs V2 and B17s
    K1 vs K4
    L1 vs V3(?)
    O1 vs O3

    This would give you the fuller picture across the board - it would draw out both the data surrounding the bread and butter work but also the cream at the top.

    @S.A.C. Martin - re-how to control for potentially fabricated data. I would when introducing the data caveat it with the possibility that some locomotive mileage may have been inflated and/or gamed. I would cross reference this to the examples cited ie Hardy, Townend, but as you say, we don't have evidence of it being widespread and we don't have evidence of it applying just to Thompson locomotives. There are few or no incentives for a shedmaster to exaggerate failure data given the general locomotive shortages of the period.

    A while back I mentioned Soviet data, the reason why we know there was so much fabrication of data is because so many people have told us that they were fabricating data. More sources saying the same thing is a stronger argument for it being widespread. If on the other hand in the hundreds of testimonies we have only a few people mention it then it is hard to argue that it is widespread.

    I think you can argue that any over/under reporting would be so small as to be not skew the data in a way that would impact significantly on the results.

    But this goes back to my example of the guy who failed the loco, if we had his account of the event it would tell one story, if we had the supervisors account you'd have another, and I've given a third account of the story. You'd also have the stats for loco availability which would faithfully record the events. Put all of it together and you have a full 'thick description' but of course the reality is that the guy who failed the loco is dead, the supervisor isn't talking and so you just have me and you just have the stats.

    I just want to give you a couple of examples how the full picture matters and there can still be ambiguity. So in 'Sleepwalkers' Christopher Clark argues that the famed 'blank cheque' telegram that Germany sent Austria-Hungary on the eve of WW1 and that has been used to blame Germany for the outbreak of WW1 has been quoted out of context. That what is cited is a short section of a much longer telegram and that without the context of the longer telegram the meaning of the critical passage is being misinterpreted. Now, obviously there are a lot of historians who do blame Germany for WW1, so what they do is point to Admiral Muller's diary from 1912 as evidence of Germany being bellicose, back comes the argument about the role of South-East European states, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain etc, so the debate broadens out. My point here, is that there will always be a challenge to whatever is argued because evidence is all about interpretation, but all that can be done is to treat the sources fairly and with the appropriate caution.

    One other story. I was reading about the Bug Boxes on Festipedia and I came across this:

    So paragraph 1 says that the most junior person say on the middle seat, the (contemporary) quote underneath says the most senior person sat on it! It is a minor detail but in the space of two paragraphs we have two completely different stories about the same thing. If it is hard enough to work out who sat where (and the truth is it probably depended on the travelling group and may have changed over time and we don't know how many sources we actually have to corroborate these stories), then it going to be even harder to tease out how often locos were over/under or misreported.

    One other point I would make is this - to strengthen your argument about small boiler pools impacting on the Thompson pacifics, I'd suggest comparing with i) similar small boiler pool locos and ii) Thompson locos with large boiler pools vs Thompson locos with small boiler pools.

    This would show i) small boiler pools give you lower availability across the board and Thompson locos are not outliers and ii) it is not a Thompson loco problem because the large boiler pool locos do not have this problem. (Does this make sense?)
     
    S.A.C. Martin likes this.
  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32,439
    Likes Received:
    16,611
    Occupation:
    Training moles
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Over its life, the supplements payable on the Silver Jubilee paid for the construction of the train.
     
  4. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Messages:
    10,682
    Likes Received:
    6,344
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Never you mind
    Location:
    31A
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Yes but Fred how many people back then would have course to travel on a prestige service on the Anglo Scottish routes? Those services were for the privileged not the plebs.
     
    35B, Jamessquared and torgormaig like this.
  5. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Messages:
    10,682
    Likes Received:
    6,344
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Never you mind
    Location:
    31A
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    So did it ever make a profit? Or did it just break even?
     
    S.A.C. Martin and Jamessquared like this.
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,389
    Likes Received:
    40,322
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That sounds like a fairly poor return on investment then!

    Tom
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  7. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    780
    Occupation:
    Design Engineer
    Location:
    Shropshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    It is probable that an N7 hauling two quad-art sets (seating capacity circa 600) on the intensively diagrammed 'Jazz' service out of Liverpool Street bought in more revenue per day than a Pacific locomotive hauling a long-distance train on the ECML. Goods, parcels and suburban passenger services were the 'bread and butter' revenue source for all of the Big Four.

    Andy
     
    S.A.C. Martin and Matt37401 like this.
  8. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,152
    Likes Received:
    6,339
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I would assume you could work out where the greatest revenue generators were and where the greatest profit margins were. Do you make more money on frequent packed commuters in Quadarts, or on Anglo-Scottish expresses, regional traffic, long distance coal traffic or the short haul stuff.

    Maybe we'll find that the greatest profit margin was the Scotch Goods or Aberdeen fish traffic :)
     
    S.A.C. Martin likes this.
  9. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    10,505
    Likes Received:
    7,310
    Occupation:
    Gentleman of leisure, nowadays
    Location:
    Near Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That’s not my take on things. The supplements were additional revenues not charged on other trains meaning that a greater part on the standard fare went to the bottom line.
     
    Spamcan81 likes this.
  10. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    780
    Occupation:
    Design Engineer
    Location:
    Shropshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Steve, my take on this is that the supplement went some way towards off-setting the low overall seating capacity of the coaching set.

    The Coronation set comprised nine vehicles of which two were brake vehicles, two had kitchens, and one was an observation coach. The first class sections featured one per side seating. The overall revenue from the Coronation service, per trip, was probably not a great deal more than a standard coaching set with greater seating capacity doing the same journey. The operational costs would be similar for both, but there were probably more on-train staffing costs associated with the Coronation service.

    Andy
     
  11. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    3,240
    Occupation:
    Once computers, now part time writer I suppose.
    Location:
    SE England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    But was the huge capital investment required within the capabilities of the LNER, and did they have enough suburban route mileage to grow traffic on? At a rough guess, the Southern must have had a high percentage of suburban route miles suitable for electrification and didn't have many future London Transport lines competing for traffic. A long skinny route map up the side of the country probably presented fewer opportunities than the dense web of lines in southern suburbia.
     
    Matt37401 likes this.
  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,389
    Likes Received:
    40,322
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Indeed - but the point was made that the fast LNER trains were worth it for the publicity they generated. I'd suggest that unless that publicity led to additional revenue, that claim isn't justified.

    Tom
     
    jnc, S.A.C. Martin and 35B like this.
  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,389
    Likes Received:
    40,322
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    But what was the impact of running such trains? Because of the need to clear the line for miles ahead so as to prevent the fast trains catching those in front, you had an adverse effect on line occupancy, which has to be factored into the costs. All those signalmen with nothing to do for a long period except pass one train with a big gap in front and behind is every bit as much of a cost of running the service as the coal and water. Had every train on the line been accelerated, it might have made some sense - but not for just the occasional train upsetting the operating pattern all around.

    Tom
     
    Matt37401, S.A.C. Martin and 35B like this.
  14. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Messages:
    3,112
    Likes Received:
    3,470
    While I agree with your point Tom I don't think all signalman had nothing to do while the high speed train approached. Some would have been kept busy shunting slower trains out of the way which could be a protracted business if setting a long freight (sorry - I mean goods:)) train back into a refuge siding.

    Peter
     
  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,389
    Likes Received:
    40,322
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    And tending flower beds :) (Or was that just on the S&D ;) )

    My point though is that the infrequent high speed trains led to low line occupancy; and that has a direct operational cost.

    Tom
     
  16. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    17,450
    Likes Received:
    16,319
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Given the title of this thread I'm surprised that every now and then the odd comment re-ignites the Gresley/Thompson debate and in so doing some people get very defensive, almost protective, over their view of the time and the merits (or not) of each engineer and Gresley in particular. Clearly that is based on personal opinion and what has been available to read from other authors, a few of whom may well have had a particular angle to promote at the time.

    There doesn't seem to be much doubt that the research that has been carried out and the book that has been written by Simon both attempt to give a more considered and balanced view of the time and the work of the people involved. The book definitely doesn't take the "Gresley good, Thompson bad" view that a few have suggested. It seems pretty clear that if nothing else, a strong 'evidence based' approach has informed this book that may be in contrast with some other, more romantic views. But I still don't get the tension that the whole discussion seems to trigger.

    I know rather more about the Bulleid/Jarvis scenario where, again, there are conflicting views and different people have different 'preferences'. What I don't pick up is such a strong 'Bulleid good, Jarvis bad' view. Maybe that is because with these locomotives and with the benefit of an overarching BR approach in post WW2 years we have available much more objective data to consider. I cite Rugby Testing Plant tests as one example.

    What pleases me is that we have all benefited from 200 plus pages of argument at a sustained level of detail just not possible, say, 70 years ago. That's something we tend to forget.
     
    Kje7812, Sheff, Miff and 2 others like this.
  17. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    10,505
    Likes Received:
    7,310
    Occupation:
    Gentleman of leisure, nowadays
    Location:
    Near Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Perhaps I should apologise to some extent for my post. Most posts on this thread are too long for me to bother reading so I just skim over them and yours, being a short post caught my eye and was taken in isolation.
    If I can comment on this other short post, again in isolation, it only holds water if the NEED for line occupancy is affected. The 1930’s railway had to cope with trains running at many different speeds in any case and extending that range slightly would probably be of limited effect.
    I’ll go back to ignoring posts on here again, now.
     
  18. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,050
    Likes Received:
    3,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    On terms of electrification up front costs note that the Shildon scheme was abandoned when it became clear that the cost of replacement was greater than replacing the whole scheme by steam locomotives which, for a cash-strapped railway operator, made economic sense in the short term. The LNER's electrification of Woodhead, however, confirms that the LNER was prepared to electrify services if the revenue would support it although the Woodhead Scheme was partly because the Government gave financial support for the project.

    Consider also that in the inter-war years service speed was seen as the driving force of increasing passenger revenues hence Gresley proving that steam was a cheaper alternative to the diesel era of the "Flying Hamburger" by the introduction of the A4s as a development of the A3s. Granted their success was due in part to a strict maintenance regime but that then leads directly to @simon's analysis of running costs and availability as exemplified by writers such as Hardy, Knox and Townsend who wrote about the practical requirements from a worker's point of view rather than that of desk-bound officialdom.
     
    jnc and S.A.C. Martin like this.
  19. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    Messages:
    10,720
    Likes Received:
    4,442
    whilst I sometimes read this thread, it's an area I am content to admit that I have no knowledge or insight into, I think you mean @S.A.C. Martin .
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  20. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    3,240
    Occupation:
    Once computers, now part time writer I suppose.
    Location:
    SE England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Or perhaps a way. After all how many other options did they have? It must have been clear that high frequency electrified suburban services were the most effective way of increasing revenue, but the right circumstances needed to exist for it to be practical. The convenience of road transport was already making inroads, so what else was there?
     
    S.A.C. Martin and 35B like this.

Share This Page