1902 Encyclopedia > Railway, Railways (Railroad) > Railways: Electricity: Signalling; Propulsion; Lighting.

Railway, Railways
(Part 41)


Electricity: Signalling; Propulsion; Lighting.

The employment of electricity in the working of railways has already been referred to in the application of block-signalling to the direction of the traffic, in the working of junctions, the protection of stations and sidings, and the repetition of signals.

The first attempt to apply electric power for propulsion on railways was made by Mr. R. Davidson, who in September 1842 tried on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway an electro-magnetic locomotive, running on four wheels and weighing 5 tons. A speed of 4 miles per hour was attained. Electric power was applied in 1881 by Messrs Siemens and Halske of Berlin on an electric railway, the Lichterfelde line, near Berlin; and since then they have constructed an electric line 1 1/2 miles long, from Charlottenburg to the Spandauer Bock, and a short line in Costverloren Park near Amsterdam. They also applied the system to a railway in the mines at Zankerode in Saxony. At the International Electric Exhibition in Paris (1881) an electric line was worked by Messrs Siemens Brothers which carried an average of over 13,000 passengers per week; and in September 1883 a railway of 3 feet gauge, 6 miles in length, was opened between Portrush and Bushmills in the north of Ireland. The gradients are very heavy, having a slope of 1 in 35 at many parts. The curves are very quick, following the line of the road. The conductor employed consists of a third rail, weighing 19 lb. to the yard, and laid close to the fence. Electricity is transmitted through the conductor, by means of steel brushes, to the Siemens motors by which the car is propelled. The dynamo-machines by which the electricity is generated are driven by the power of a natural waterfall of 26 feet in the river Bush. Two turbines are driven by the fall of water at a speed of 225 revolutions per minute; each is capable of yielding 50 horse-power. The electric car can run on the level at the rate of 12 miles per hour.

Several large metropolitan and other stations are lighted by electricity. At the Waterloo station of the London and South-Western Railway, for example, the new main line suburban passenger station, about 1 3/4 acres in area, has been lighted by the Anglo-American Brush Light system since February 1881, sixteen arc-lamps of 2000 candle-power each being employed. The Windsor line station at the same terminus, about 1 1/2 acres in area, has been lighted by the Edison Company’s system since January 1883 with 200 glow-lamps of 16 candle-power each. The large goods-yard on the same railway, about 18 acres in extent, at Nine Elms, has been lighted since January 1883 by fourteen arc-lamps of 4000 candle-power each. The lighting of railway trains by electricity has been successfully affected on the Great Eastern Railway since October 1884. The power is derived from a dynamo-machine driven by a compact rotary engine, placed together in a small case on the top of the locomotive, and worked by steam from the boiler. Sixty electric lights are generated, each of them sufficient to light thoroughly a compartment of a carriage, and supply light for a train of at least twelve vehicles. Trains on other lines also are lighted by electricity.

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