Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120


6th December 1917
Page 23
Page 24
Page 23, 6th December 1917 — MINIMIZING TERMINAL DELAYS.
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Great Problem in Connection with Both Railway and Road Transport.

IN A RECENT ISSUE of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR a contribution over the name • "Newera" dealt with co-ordination in the bulk movement of freight by road and rail. I must confess that this article left me with a feeling of intense uneasiness. Rightly or wrongly, I came to the conclusion that the writer was either one of the officials appointed to deal with the co-ordination of motor traffic from a national standpoint, or else was in close touch .and sympathy with those handling this problem. I also came to the conclusion that the writer was a railway man, thoroughly conversant and satisfied with railway

practice as it is. .

Cost per Ton-mile the Real Issue.

He began his article with the exhortation, "Increase ton miles decrease vehicle miles This is the slogan which rings incessantly in the ears of every railway traffic manager the whole world over. It constitutes the greatest problem in railway operation to7day, and is an issue to which there appears to be no finality." Subsequently, he animadverts on the comparatively unbusinesslike methods of the motor vehicle user. Doubtless he knows more than I do about what slogan is deafening railway traffic mama,

gers and making them heedless of all other considerations, but I join: issue with him at once a..9 regards his contention that increase in ton-miles and decrease in vehicle miles is the greatest problem ,in railivay or other traffic organization. Undoubtedly, it is 'a problem to which some attention must be given.

! Put in plain English, this means that we must try to provide consistently full loads for our vehicles. It does not suggest that we should endeavour to increase the mileage which each vehicle covers, but rather the iForitrary. • There is a point beyond which we cannot increase ton •miles without increasing vehicle miles. . It then becomes our duty to increase both, always keeping every vehicle as nearly fully loaded as pos,' sibie. As a matter of fact, the greatest problem in railway operation is, or should be, to increase the efficiency of. every carrying unit. This' can best ho done by keeping every unit engaged on useful work for the highest possible proportion of its time. Ex: actly. the same argument applies to road traffic. Put shortly, the problem is to increase ton miles while tlecreasing the cost per ton mile. The way to do this is to minimize terminal delays and terminal charges, and it is on account of the failure of our railways to = show improvements in this respect that I feel anxious when I am forced to the conclusion that the co-ordina

tion of motor traffic is being put into the hands of railway men. They have in their own affairs shown such a total disregard for the possibilities of saving an almost infinite amount of time and money by the reduction of terminal delays.

Radius of Action of Motors.

Another statement by your contributor which justifies some anxiety is his apparent corroboration of the argument, "Never send by road what can be Bent by rail." This is a most dangerous generalization which has a groundwork of truth sufficient to make it seductive, but not sufficient to prevent it from being very misleading as a, piece of advice. The function of the railway system, as at present f;onstittitecl, is to coraduct long-distance haulage. For short-distance work it is, under most circumstances, hopelessly outclassed by the road motor. For intermediary distances—as, for example, 40.0450 miles—the decision depends largely upon the nature of the goods to be transported. If they are sent by rail, numerous handlings and delays are necessitated. If the produceis perishable, great losses may result thereby. If, on the other hand, the produce is not perishable, and delivery is not very urgent, the railway probably affords the cheaper 'means of conveyance. It is all very well to give an example in-which goods were delivered from the Midlands to London by rail with' great promptitude a special effort no doubt being made in order to. render unnecessary a long run by a petrol lorry. This promptitude, however, is not the rule, but the exception.

Of course, your correspondent himself condemns what he says is the attitude in official transport working when he admits that motor vehicles should be used up to approximately a maximum radius of 25 miles, and, that no inflexible rule concerning maxifnum radius can be laid down. This is a direct contradiction of the statement that goods should never Be sent by road that can be sent by rail.

The Idle Goods Wagon.

A recent leading article in THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR dealt briefly with the proposals put before the President of the lioard of Trade a week or so ago by advocates of the Central Clearing flonse system. Mr. Gattie, the originator of that system states that the average railway goods wagon is actually transporting goods forno more than six minutes in 24 hours ; another authority gives a lower estimate of three and a half minutes. Taking a compromise between the

two, we come to the conclusion that a goods wagon is actually engaged in useful transport for about per cent. of its time ; of the other 991 per cent., some per cent. is occupied in moving the wagon unladen, and the remaining 97 per cent, or so represents the time during which the wagon is standing still. If an industrial motor owner could do no more than show the same proportion of active use of his vehicles, his 'venture would inevitably lead to financial failure. Consequently, it is not unreasonable to resent the railway methods being heldaip before us as models to be copied and admired.

The present writer does not claim to be a great expert in railway matters. His knowledge of the Central Clearing House system is based solely on an examination of the experimental plant already in existence, a consideration of its underlying principles, a number of arguments, and a careful study of the writings which embody the cases for and against it. His own conclusions are immensely strengthened by the knowledge that for example, Sir George Gibb considers that the whole scheme is worthy of thorough investigation, and Sir Eric Geddes has written to one of its promoters "I do not think there is any doubt in my mind or any deviation of opinion between us." Sir William Preece examined the scheme, and said that no one could see what would be the end of it, or, in other words, how great would be the revolution which it might effect.

How Road Traffic Suffers.

I would, however, base my condemnation of the railways for refusing to consider this and any other alternative schemes that may be put forward, on the grounds that the present system is extremely bad, and is growing worse every day. Our railway rates compare very unfavourably with those of other countries.

Now our commerce and industry are handicapped by this fact. Something has got to be done, and people who merely pride themselves upon the supposed perfection of their present arrangements, and their infinite superiority over their neighbours, are the last people in the world who are likely to do it, except under compulsion. We need not be fanatics or prejudiced adherents of any particular scheme to realize that the principle und,erlying the working of railway goods yards is not the' best imaginable. The whole of the work, is carried on in two dimensions, and this is the inherent fault of the entire system.

The consequence of this is that, though the system is workable enough on a avail scale, as it grows larger it becomes more and more difficult to operate. There is a limit beyond which the extent of a goods yard cannot be increased. The result is that more knd more yards have to be provided. In London there are 74 yards covering about 3000 acres. All of these have to be Connected up with one another for the exchange of goods. Enormous numbers of trains are engaged wholly on this inter-station works • so that the lines within London are really part of the mechanism used for shunting and for terminal work. . The other disadvantages of the present system are the • enermous amount of hand labour involved, the impossibility of introducing any coherent arrangements for the sorting of goods and for their transit froln the point of arrival to the point of departure, and the delays of the road vehicles implicated in the system which, because of these delays— which would make motors unproductive—continue to he slow-moving horsed vehicles which cumber our streets, and interfere with the free movement of other traffic.

Idea of the Container. •

If a truck load of goods is situated in the middle of one train and is wanted to form part of another train, an almost endless sequence of operations has to be performed to get the truck from the one place e44 to the other. Obviously, if the truck could be lifted bodily and carried straight across to the required position, much labour would be saved, and the power of the locomotive would not be diverted from its proper use to a use for which it was never designed or intended. If the truck itself cannot he treated in this way, the obvious course would be to make the truck body detachable. This introduces the idea of employing containers of standard dimensions so far as their attachment to the frame of the standard truck is con cerned. Such a, container might be lifted bodily, moved across overhead, and then lowered on to another truck frame where required. We should net at this point have got over the difficulty of sorting, with regard to which the great problem is to reduce the hand labour involved, but we should have accepted the idea of working in three dimensions, which is at any rate a step in. the right direction.

Delays Due to Sorting.

The next thing to do would be to organize matters so that directly a train came in and all the containers on the trucks had been removed, a number of loaded containers containing goods for suitable destinations should be ready to be put in place. The point is that the locomotive and the truck ought to be engaged for almost the whole of their working hours in carrying goods from one point to another. The loading and unloading ought to go on, not while the trains are waiting, but while they are actually travelling, with the result that terminal delays would be reduced to a minimum and cost per ton-mile would be decreased, while the number of ton-miles and of vehiclemiles would both increase because the cheaper rates would bring a bigger bulk of business to the railways. Even now, we have not got over the difficulty of sorting. To get the better of this, we must again be capable of working in three dimensions. The process of using inupense numbers of men pushing trucks is absolutely primitive ; the muddle resulting grows as the business grows. The bigger the goods yard, the longer the average distance over which the parcels have to be carried or pushed during the process of sorting. If, as a first step, we could lift the man and his load on to a higher floor, we should get rid of some at least of the trouble, because waiting trains would not render circuitous routes necessary. If on that higher floor the men all passed along in certain prescribed directions until they came to the right plaxes at which to descend again, the muddle would be largely eliminated. Finally, we should want to substitute self-moving and self-directing machinery for man power.

Possibility of Eliminating Congestion `, on Roads.

The question is whether it is really possible to use the third dimension in the ways suggested. The advocates of the Central Clearing House scheme say that it is ; the champions of existing methods assume that it is not The whole question affects road traffic as well as rail traffic. One authority has estimated that the introduction of a Central Clearing House in London would eliminate 05 per cent. of the slow-moving vehicles upotethe streets, and would enable motor lorries iii reasonablenumbers to perform all the work hitherto done by them. If the people who are concerned with rail transport will not discuss a scheme of this kind, it behoves those who are concerned with road transport to do so, and, if satisfied, to back their decision.

find that I have taken up so much space in general argument that it is necessary to postpone for the moment a consideration of how far the Central Clearing House Scheme is really able to conform to the imaginary scheme outlined above, and how in so. doing it would utilize the services of motor lorries working under such conditions as tb economize vehicles and fuel, and to show the lowest possible

operating costs per ton-mile. VECTIS,

comments powered by Disqus