Another milestone in railway history was reached yesterday by the inauguration of passenger services of electrically hauled coaches between Sheffield and Manchester.
The flags and flower tubs were out at Sheffield (Victoria) Station as the inaugural traim moved away smoothly; and at Manchester (London Road) Station there was an immediate greeting chorus of whistles from standing steam locomotives.
There was something homely and friendly about the whistles and the motor horn acknowledgment seemed to strike a note as impersonal and militarily precise as electric locomotive No 27000 itself, not even an electric horse, but 2,760 horses embodied in a black shell, with red piping, all gleaming.
The man with a preference for electric locomotives, standing in the reflected glory of No. 27000, which had slashed minutes off the old steam locomotive service time between the two cities, said: “Electric locomotives have everything that steam locomotives have except the hiss.”
Any expectations of this triumphant occasion — the virtual completion of the first main line electric passenger and freight services in Britain —being marked by the wearing of top hats were unfulfilled. Top hats on this occasion, the fulfilment of an old LNER 1936 plan, at a cost of £11,000,000 might have quickened the flow of memories of the old, hissing locos, already flooding at the shrill of a whistle.
But emories, colourful as they were - there was the steam loco enthusiast who announced that he was growing plants in old loco funnels and collecting signal finials (which weigh as much as 501b.) for use as garden ornaments - could not stem the tide of progress.
Electric locomtive No 27000. which had so efficiently hauled the inaugurator of the services. Sir Brian Robertson, chairman of the Transport Commission, civic dignitaries, high British railway officials and a host of other guests, was obviously the forerunner of a new race of locomotives in this country.
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