On Railways Far Away

On Railways Far Away

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by William D. Middleton
     
 

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In this lavishly illustrated memoir, William D. Middleton invites readers to climb aboard and share with him 60 years of railroad tourism around the globe. Middleton’s award-winning photography has recorded events such as the final days of American Civil War locomotives in Morocco and the start up of the world’s first high-speed railway in Japan. He has

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Overview

In this lavishly illustrated memoir, William D. Middleton invites readers to climb aboard and share with him 60 years of railroad tourism around the globe. Middleton’s award-winning photography has recorded events such as the final days of American Civil War locomotives in Morocco and the start up of the world’s first high-speed railway in Japan. He has photographed such great civil works as Scotland’s Firth of Forth Bridge and the splendid railway station at Haydarpasa on the Asian side of the Bosporus, while closer to home he has been recognized for his significant contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America’s railroading history. On Railways Far Away presents over 200 of Middleton’s favorite photographs and the personal stories behind the images. It is a book that will delight both armchair travelers and those for whom the railroads still hold romance.

Indiana University Press

Editorial Reviews

Kevin P. Keefe

"Few American chroniclers of the international railroad scene have shown the versatility and insight of William D. Middleton. As an author and a photographer (not to mention a professional engineer), he demonstrated an uncanny ability to connect all the dots in railroading, from all corners of the world. In this book he does it with an inimitable personal touch." —Kevin P. Keefe, Publisher, Classic Trains magazine

J. Parker Lamb

"William D. Middleton will go down as the only producer of popular railroad history
... who was able to present such a broad coverage of railways during
his lifetime.

To my way of thinking, there has never been a person with his wide range of
talents (as a researcher, writer, and photographer), his personal discipline to be a
steady producer of historical publications, and his unrivaled zeal to record railroad
activity in interesting spots around the globe. Many have excelled in one or even
two of these categories, but no one has ever come close to his overall record.
It will take a generation for the breadth, depth, and significance of his total
contribution to be appreciated.
" —J. Parker Lamb, Author of Railroads of Meridian (IUP, 2012)

Michigan Railfan

"In addition to the careful research that went into his writing, Middleton was a gifted photographer who had an eye for creating interesting "trainscape" scenes.... Unknowingly with this book, Middleton managed to save his best effort for last – a volume that is sure to please anyone who enjoys exceptional photography and a good story." —Michigan Railfan

Rail Magazine

"[T]his hard-bound collection of photographs is an apt memorial to a man who was known to say, 'yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t catch.'" —Rail Magazine

From the Publisher
"William D. Middleton will go down as the only producer of popular railroad history
... who was able to present such a broad coverage of railways during
his lifetime.

To my way of thinking, there has never been a person with his wide range of
talents (as a researcher, writer, and photographer), his personal discipline to be a
steady producer of historical publications, and his unrivaled zeal to record railroad
activity in interesting spots around the globe. Many have excelled in one or even
two of these categories, but no one has ever come close to his overall record.
It will take a generation for the breadth, depth, and significance of his total
contribution to be appreciated.
" —J. Parker Lamb, Author of Railroads of Meridian (IUP, 2012)

"[T]his hard-bound collection of photographs is an apt memorial to a man who was known to say, 'yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t catch.'" —Rail Magazine

"Few American chroniclers of the international railroad scene have shown the versatility and insight of William D. Middleton. As an author and a photographer (not to mention a professional engineer), he demonstrated an uncanny ability to connect all the dots in railroading, from all corners of the world. In this book he does it with an inimitable personal touch." —Kevin P. Keefe, Publisher, Classic Trains magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253005915
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
06/06/2012
Series:
Railroads Past and Present Series
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

On Railways Far Away


By William D. Middleton

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2012 William D. Middleton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00594-6



CHAPTER 1

WESTERN EUROPEAN TRAINS


THE UNITED KINGDOM WAS THE BIRTHPLACE of the railroad and brought to it such things as the world's predominance of British standard gauge, the early technology and development of the steam locomotive, the basic formation of trains made up of locomotives and cars, train ordering, train braking, and one of the most important of all, the technology and development of the construction of the civil works that supported the railway. In these civil works were some of the most significant differences often found between British and American practice. In the British Isles, the cities and towns were well developed, and agriculture, mining, and manufacturing were already well established. Thus the British could build the new railways to high standards and could likely begin operations with good traffic from already developed resources.

In the United States, in contrast, cities and towns, commerce, and financial support were often less well developed, and the railways were forced to build to a much lower standard, just enough to run the railroad, with the expectation that when traffic was built up the roadbed and its structures could be rebuilt to better standards. And the farther west the railroads went, the more likely that this was true. A new British railway, on the other hand, would likely build its roadbed to high standards of curvature and grade; such appurtenances as culverts, tunnel portals, and the like were often masonry with decorative work of stone on brick; and longer, high bridge structures were commonly masonry. Large bridges were also built in wrought iron or steel, designed for the specific locations, and put together on the site by skilled ironworkers. New U.S. railroads were often built with the lightest iron rail that would carry the loads, and crossties were made with whatever wood could be located in the vicinity. There was little ballast employed: sometimes ashes, dirt, or none at all. Treatment of crossties was seldom seen. The favorite material for building smaller bridges was timber ties, while later wrought iron and steel members were often from a factory and assembled in a post-and-pin manner.

The result of all this today is that a traveler to the United Kingdom will see much more of railroading's earliest work, built well to highest standards, and civil works still serving well after 150 years or more.


THE BRIDGES OF BRITAIN

Nothing is more evident than the work of Britain's great bridge builders. Still in service are the works of such great builders as Thomas Telford; George and Robert Stephenson, father and son; John Miller; Sir John Fowler; Sir Benjamin Baker; and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the greatest civil engineer of them all. Enduring stonework was an early choice of Britain's builders. John Miller built a 181-foot clear span in 1848 that still stands as the longest stone arch bridge ever built in Britain. Also in 1848, Robert Stephenson completed the great High Level Bridge, built of wrought and cast iron, to cover the gorge of the River Tyne. A double deck spanned a structure of six spans, each 125 feet in length, accomodating road vehicles on the lower deck with rail traffic on the top. The trusses of the bridge were tied together by bowed arches of cast iron, with the lateral thrust carried on wrought iron ties that supported the floor system.

But the greatest of all Britain's bridges was the splendid Firth of Forth cantilever bridge that John Fowler and Benjamin Baker, later knighted by Queen Victoria for their work, built across the Firth in 1890 to complete Britain's eastern main line all the way from London to Aberdeen. The work started in 1883, and as many as 4,600 men were at work on it over the next 7 years. The cantilever plan adopted for the bridge called for two back-to-back cantilevers, each spanning a clear 1,700 feet, while the outer arm at each suspended span crossed 680 feet clear. With the addition of steel approach viaducts at each end, the overall bridge was 5,270 feet in length; including the earth viaducts at either end would extend the Forth Bridge to a total of just over 1 ½ miles. The principal compression members were built of riveted steel tubes 12 feet in diameter. The tops of the three towers rose to a height of 361 feet above high water, and the double-track railway was 156 feet above the water.

From its beginning the bridge was a huge success, with more than a hundred daily trains scheduled over it. In its details the Forth Bridge was a unique design that was never replicated, and its splendid setting at the mouth of the Forth made it a bridge icon that has never been surpassed. It is easily the greatest of all British railroad bridges, and if a contest were held to name the world's best-known railroad bridge there can be little doubt that it would be the Forth Bridge.


THE TRAINS OF BRITAIN

Ten-Wheelers & Other Locomotives

I first saw England on a very short visit in 1951, and hurried trips to Paddington Station and a trip out of London to Slough on the western suburbs helped me to gain my early appreciation. I soon developed a special interest in the Great Western's ten-wheelers, which ran out of Paddington in impressive numbers. While ten-wheelers were not often considered modern power in the United States, they had a much higher standing in Britain, with almost four hundred ten-wheelers built new between the British Railways consolidation in 1948 and the last one turned out in 1957. Most of the GWR 4-6-0 locomotives were based on three closely related 4-cylinder locomotive designs: the Star, Castle, and King Classes. Well-known mechanical engineer G. W. Churchward designed the first in 1907, and the railway continued with updated designs over the next 50 years.

The old Great Western Railway had become one of several British Railways regions in the consolidation in 1948. I remembered that Isambard Brunel had been Great Western's founding chief engineer and had developed such innovative and diverse engineering ideas as iron steamships, underwater tunnels, and a 7-foot-wide railroad track. And I found myself hoping that some remnant of Brunel's genius would remain with theGWR's most recent ten-wheelers, still emerging from the Great Western's old locomotive shop at Swindon locomotive shops, in operation since 1843.


InterCity 125

Like other passenger railroads, British Rail soon discovered after the war that automobiles and planes seemed to be the future. Passenger travel by British Rail reached a record 1.3 billion journeys in 1945, but fully a quarter of it was gone in only 3 years. This decline would continue with few disruptions over the next 30 years, when it would hit a record low of only 630 million trips in 1982, less than half the 1945 total. But British Rail had decided that decline was not inevitable, and that a much greater market share could be captured with high- quality, high-speed service. As the cost of building new high-speed lines seemed to make increased market share an infeasible goal, the railway set out to see what could be done with the existing system. The existing tracks required improvements and advanced signaling. Many of the lines that would be included were still non-electrified, so BR settled on a high-speed, diesel- electric train built largely with existing technology.

The prototype trains, used for testing, were followed by a total of 197 complete trains. Each consisted of a British Rail Class 43 power unit at both ends, with remote control to permit operation from either end. The standard power plant for each of the power units was a high-speed 12-cylinder Paxman Valenta running at 1,500 revolutions per minute and generating 2,250 horsepower. Maximum operating speed for the units was set at 125 mph, although on June 12, 1973, a world speed record for diesel-electric traction was set on a test of a prototype unit that reached a maximum speed of 148 mph. Passenger accommodations for the train were seven or eight Mark 3 or 4 coaches, providing coach and first-class seating and food service. Delivery of the new trains began in 1970, with the full fleet delivered by 1982, and regular operation to 125 mph beginning in 1976. The High Speed Trains, as well as other equipment capable of the operation, were classified as InterCity trains for marketing purposes.

British Rail had managed to come up with just what the public was looking for. The combination of a much higher operating speed and the improved deceleration and braking rates of the new equipment, as well as a high standard of accommodation, had made passenger rail a new star in transportation. Steady growth in passengers followed the advent of InterCity high-speed rail, and by 2008 BR had reached 1.22 billion passengers, a level the railroad had not seen since the end of the war. The British had accomplished a standard of performance in high-speed passenger rail in existing railroads that has probably never been equaled elsewhere.


DIVERSE TRAINS AT PARIS

The Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) trains of Paris were interesting ones in the early 1950s. Still active were the celebrated 4-6-2 Pacific design by SNCF predecessor the Chemin de Fer du Nord, from the 1920s and 1930s, and the huge U.S.– and Canadian-built, post–World War II 2-8-2, Class 141 R locomotives that handled freight and passenger duties alike.

American builders Alco, Baldwin, and Lima, together with Canadian builders Montreal and Canadian, built 1,340 of them under the Marshall Plan during 1945–1947. Here is a southbound freight train passing St. Denis in the Paris suburbs in June 1952. Locomotive 141 R No. 571 had been built by Baldwin. The versatile locomotives lasted for 30 years in SNCF operation.


MAIN LINE GREECE

Mainland Greece is shaped by the peninsula formed by the Ionian and Aegean seas, with a slender branch to the east along the southern border of Bulgaria to Turkey. The Hellenic State Railways (SEK; now called the Hellenic Railways Organisation) operates in the area in a sort of V-shaped arrangement, with an east-west line to Turkey and a second north-south line, with the two forming an apex at Thessaloniki, Greece's principal center north of Athens. Connecting the 323-mile line linking Athens and Thessaloniki, this north-south line is clearly the railroad's most important. The narrow gauge (meter) Piraeus, Athens and Peloponnesus Railways (SPAP) line operates some 500 miles over the Island of Peloponnesus and to its Athens connections. Both SEK and SPAP began their conversion to diesel power first with diesel- powered railcars for passenger services, then with diesel-electric engines early in 1960.

Big Steam Locomotives and International Expresses

The steam motive power operated by SEK was typical of most European practice. The locomotives were usually light by U.S. standards, and the wheel arrangement seldom went beyond small 2-10-0. Greece was pretty much like this, except for the remarkable, big 2-10-2s, whose performance compared favorably to a light U.S. 2-10-2. Built by a joint venture between Italian builders Breda and Ansaldo in 1953–1954, the Santa Fes were fitted with 63-inch drivers that made possible a 65 mph maximum speed for passenger trains and 2,900 horsepower to pull heavy freight trains. The size and weight of the locomotives limited their use to the Thessaloniki-Athens main line. Other steam motive power included a variety of other European builders, as well as a large number of ex–U.S. War Department locomotives, including both 0-6-0 and 2-8-0 locomotives. Diesel-electric power, in the form of General Electric road-switchers, began to join the roster in late 1961.


THE ISLAND NARROW GAUGE

The meter gauge SPAP that we visited in 1961 was a busy place, with mostly motor cars for its busy passenger fleet and steam power that ranged all the way from elderly to post–World War II locomotives. The Island of Peloponnesus is surrounded by a rail line that circles the island, with a few branches, a main line connection that crosses the Corinth Canal to link the railroad with Athens, and connections with the standard gauge SEK. A second branch links the northwest corridor of the island with a water connection across the Gulf of Corinth to reach an otherwise isolated branch of the railroad. The splendid scenery varies from runs along the shore and beaches of the gulf to climbs in the rugged mountains of the island.

CHAPTER 2

FAR NORTHERN RAILWAYS

THE NORTHERN COUNTRIES OF EUROPE all operate railways that present unusually difficult challenges, both in the scope of their original construction and in their daily operation. Building the tunnels and aligning the tracks needed to conquer the formidable mountains that are so often present in Scandinavia have required the experience of expert engineers for planning and the high qualifications of builders for putting down the line. Work continues even now, with such projects as the recently completed Oresund Bridge project between Copenhagen and Malmo, which has built almost 5 miles of bridge and tunnel to link Denmark and Sweden by direct rail connection for the first time. In Norway, the railway builders have completed the 31-mile Gardermoen 130 mph high-speed line that connects the new Oslo airport with the main railway station. In Sweden, the Bothnia Line is under construction along the northern Baltic Sea; it will add some 120 miles of new high-speed line with 16 miles of tunnel and some 140 bridges.

The task of operating the Scandinavian railway presents challenges that are no less difficult. Winter is the worst. The annual struggle to move Sweden's iron ore shipments from their place in Lapland far above the Arctic Circle and across the mountains to the seaport at Narvik was always difficult, as was the effort to keep trains on time through the deep snows so common on the rugged mountains east of Bergen. And everywhere they know that they will have to do their annual battle with cold, ice, and snow once again.


SCANDINAVIAN RAILWAY CAPITALS

Each of the railway terminals for Scandinavia's four capital cities represents a wide variation in architecture, and each has its own distinct style. But each of them provides much the same range of service to the railway traveler. Their railway terminals typically see anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 people daily, and their train arrivals and departures number in the hundreds. In addition to railway traffic, the terminals handle subway and bus traffic connections, and three of them (Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo) have high-speed rail links to airports. Still other supporting services such as food, drink, and dozens of others are provided within the terminals, which help make these central stations a place that could truly be called "a city within the city."


Copenhagen Central Station

Now a hundred years old, Copenhagen Central Station is the third structure built for a Copenhagen station. The first, at Roskildebanen, was built in 1847 but soon became obsolete because of railway traffic growth. A second, designed by architect H. J. Herboldt, was completed in 1864. This one lasted a little longer, but by the turn of the century it, too, had been overtaken by traffic. The third and present one, designed by architect Heinrich Wenck, was completed in 1911.

The station's thirteen platforms are below ground level, with the station facilities built across the platforms. The main entrance opens to a tall, central hall with a steeply sloped, four-way ceiling with five peaked arches, while large arched windows enclose the exterior. The exterior is built in a dark red brick that is carried into the station's interior design. A large part of the open, sloped roof is covered in glass, while the roof structure is carried by open arches. The ornate interior of the building reflect its design in the early twentieth century: arched glass windows decorated with colored glass, ceilings finished with decorative plaster, and elaborate wooden moldings. Interior spaces are lit by decorative chandeliers, and the perimeter is lined with flags for Christmas or other holidays. Travelers often meet people at a large clock at the Hovedbanen Mall, much like people meet at the great clock at New York's Grand Central Station.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from On Railways Far Away by William D. Middleton. Copyright © 2012 William D. Middleton. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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