29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 14


Snt,—The correspondence concerning the activities of British rail- ways over the past three months has at least opened up this thorny subject even if the letters so far published in The Spectator have hardly disposed of the troubles that beset both passengers and com- panies. I agree with Lord Stamp that railway officials are working under great stress now, and I again agree that the work they do under aerial bombardment is magnificent, but I cannot think that Lord Stamp would want anyone to imagine that railways must be above criticism at any time, much less now. There is no doubt at all that several ruling policies adopted by the companies are, in practice, ridiculous. That trains arc almost bound to be late when air-raid warnings are in progress is obvious, but once the area covered by the warning has been left surely it is possible for trains to make an attempt to regain a proportion of the time lost? The L.M.S. checked on six separate journeys from Euston to Glasgow have actually lost more time after the all clear has been received than was lost during the period of the alert, and of the six journeys in question the trains arrived from fifty-seven minutes late in Glasgow to eleven hours behind schedule. This because no serious effort was made on any of the six trips to regain any time lost at the start of the journey. In fact, the fastest speed attained by any of the trains was 47.5 m.p.h. (on a down gradient).

Secondly, there are a number of extremely irritating practices that take place en route. In broad daylight should the train receive an air-raid warning all blinds are pulled down. This is understandable, but what is extremely stupid is the practice of all lights being extin- guished. How can this make the train any more invisible from the air in daylight? Again, all the railway companies spent thousands of pounds last year in equipping their compartments with black-out devices over the interior lighting. These devices, so it was said, were so excellent' that in several tests in co-operation with the R.A.F. no light was visible from above and the train was invisible. If this is so, what is the object of keeping passengers in the dark when an air-raid is in progress? Either the black-out devices are adequate or they are not. If they are, as we have been told, let us have light in our trains. If they are not, why go to the expense of equipping