"Chaos on the railways

January 25

The railway system was in chaos yesterday after the intense cold of
Wednesday  night and yesterday morning.  A British Railways Midland Region
spokesman said last night: "It had been very bad and the outlook for
tomorrow is not very hopeful."  The mechanism and fuel of diesel stock was
frozen, carriages were immovable, points and water-troughs iced up.

Widespread cancellations and delays are expected again today after a day in
which trains to London from Manchester were up to four hours late and trains
from London ran up to eight hours late. "A long chapter of accidents," a BR
spokesman said.

A serious shortage of locomotives and carriages developed at terminal
stations and no overnight trains leaving London last night had sleeping
cars. Many long-distance expresses were cancelled or combined last night and
the pattern is expected to be repeated today. Main line train services
between Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and London have been drastically reduced
until weather conditions improve. Today five express services in each
direction between Wolverhampton and Paddington via Birmingham are cancelled.
Long-distance trains into Birmingham were up to five or six hours late
yesterday and suburban trains delayed by anything up to thirty minutes.
Nearly a hundred extra coal trains will be brought into action at the
weekend in the West Midlands to accelerate coal supplies.

The London Midland Region announced yesterday that the express service was
being " severely curtailed " in the region because of adverse weather
conditions and the urgent need to maintain public utility and other
essential supplies. Intending long-distance travellers were advised to make
inquiries before travelling. On the Southern Region electric supply
reductions made nonsense of timetables. Station staffs worked in candlelight
in some areas and at Cannon Street engineers worked the points by hand after
the power had failed. Western Region reported more cuts in suburban
services, including the busy diesel service between Paddington and Reading.

British Railways yesterday issued a "log" of the journey by Wednesday
night's Mancunian express, which arrived in Manchester at 4 52 a.m., seven
hours late. Here is the log, with explanatory notes :
7 2 p.m. Leave Euston 48 minutes late (train had to wait for an available
engine); further 20 minutes' delay while train was steam heated; 58 minutes
lost between Watford and Bletchley because train had got behind the
Birmingham train.

9 5 p.m. app. Arrive Bletchley; 90 minutes' wait in station while engine was
detached and went to sheds for water and coal. (Coal was frozen in tender
and,all water in troughs and columns along the line frozen); 37 minutes'
delay at Rugby to take on coal and water; 5 minutes' delay at Nuneaton
because of signals failure; 23 minutes' delay at Rugeley because another
train was ahead taking on water; 4 minutes lost between Milford and Stafford
while train ahead took on water.

1 45 a.m. app. Arrive Stafford; 64 minutes' delay for coal and water: 6
minutes lost between Stafford and Crewe because of engineering works.

2 55 a.m. app. Arrive Crewe; 52 minutes' delay while steam engine, which now
broke down, was replaced by an electric locomotive; 4 minutes lost between
Crewe and Manchester for a special stop at Stockport to let passengers off.

4 52 a m. Arrive Manchester (British Railways apportioned nine minutes of
total delay to " weather." type and effect unspecified). PETER ECKERSI:EY

As reported in the Manchester Guardian booklet "The Long Winter 1962-63"