Facts about the Southern Railway (Wonder Book of Railways 14th ed)

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A chapter about the Southern Railway with useful facts and statistics, from 14th edition of The Wonder Book of Railways (undated, but circa ~1925):


This system includes three great holiday and passenger-traffic lines, the London and South Western, the London, Brighton and South Coast and the South Eastern and Chatham, together with the railways in the Isle of Wight and several small lines. It provides all routes between London and the South Coast resorts, from Gravesend right round the Kent Coast to Margate, Ramsgate, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, and along the South Coast, passing Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing, Portsmouth and Bournemouth to Swanage. Its trains also have a good share in the Weymouth traffic, while west of Exeter it serves a great part of the North Devon and North Cornwall coast, including such places as Ilfracombe, Bideford, Bude and Padstow. It reaches also to Plymouth.

Besides serving so many favourite holiday resorts, the Southern Railway has a tremendous residential traffic to and from London, the suburban area extending 20 or 30 miles out on all routes, with a very complicated network of lines within those limits. There are also large numbers of London business people who live at Brighton, Folkestone, Margate, and other places, coming up to town each day. Nearly all the London suburban routes are now worked electrically.

But while the Southern Railway is essentially a passenger-traffic line, this does not mean that its goods traffic is not important. There are no collieries except a few on the Kent Coast, so that the only coal conveyed is that brought from the north and west to serve the towns and factories to which the line gives access. But it carries a great volume of traffic to and from the Continent, and at the extensive Southampton Docks, owned by the Southern Railway, many of the biggest trans-Atlantic liners, and numerous other vessels that ply to and from all parts of the world, provide rail traffic on a large scale.

Another class of traffic is that to and from the Channel Islands and from France via Southampton, and the very heavy Continental traffic, Dover-Calais, Dover–Ostend, Folkestone–Boulogne, Newhaven-Dieppe and Southampton–Havre, etc. The Channel Islands traffic is big both in regard to passengers and the large amount of flowers, fruits and vegetables which are brought to this country. Newhaven is also the port for a great deal of cargo traffic, and considerable numbers of passengers cross to Dieppe Or travel to Paris that way. Folkestone and Dover are, however, the chief ports for the Continental passenger traffic, also for mails to the East, as well as to European countries, and for goods traffic on a large scale. All these services are worked by Southern Railway Steamers, including some of the finest vessels at work for such traffic, except that Belgian vessels are used to Ostend, and on the services via Dover and Calais and via Newhaven and Dieppe some of the steamers are French.

Although its mileage of 2,201 seems small by comparison with the lengths of the three railways already mentioned, the Southern Railway finds employment for 2,066 steam locomotives, about 1,500 electric vehicles, nearly 10,000 other passenger train carriages, and about 40,000 goods wagons, etc. In the course of twelve months it conveys over 200,000,000 passengers, apart from the journeys of 170,000 season-ticket holders, while nearly 18,000,000 tons of freight are carried. Its engine miles for the year amount to over 70,000,000.

— -, The Railway "Big Six", The Wonder Book of Railways, 14th edition

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