National Archives 2012-02-09

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Signed up for new reader's ticket via computer. First few document orders: RAIL 418 (acting on suggestion made by authoritative third party). Have run dry on files to order, not having gone through past notes and done a full review of files examined. Have ordered other files from DSIR series which quick and dirty comparison of directory listing shows don't already exist in my private archive.

RAIL 418/209

"Review of the LMS commercial organisation and its achievements 1932 to 1939." This is a self-published book with facts and figures. None leap out as being of interest for roads or even the general question of rail-road competition, other than a final chapter dealing with road transport and coal traffic, describing a last-seven-miles agreement LMS (and other railway companies?) reached with colliery operators, providing that road transport would be resorted to only for the last seven miles between the colliery and the rail depot.

Don't think this has any material worth photographing for future reference.

RAIL 418/208

Also self-published: "Notes made on certain operating practices and problems: American visit of LMS officers, May, 1933." Authored by S.H. Fisher. Comparative study of American and British railway practice, with most of the specifics seeming to come from observation of the railroad networks around Chicago. Some interesting observations: American labor costs are thought higher; American railroad operators think of the less-than-carload lot as a necessary evil, rather than a vital source of revenue, being focused on making the bulk of their revenue (and profit?) from long-distance haulage of bulk goods; miles per day per engine is seen by the Americans as an important measure of output; Americans were happy to have obsolete equipment parked outside and rusting for fairly lengthy periods of time; diesel engines used for freight shunting. Also, a chapter examines provision of coal silos, as a possible model for England. It is noted that while silos might lead to more coal breakage in England, in the American context they are preferred by streetside coal peddlers, help eliminate demurrage charges (far higher in the US than in England, where shippers were not over-concerned about underload wagons being left for more than 48 hours), and help reduce labor charges (higher in US than in England).

Extensively illustrated with photos and plans (British observers also examined layout of American trainyards and types of rolling stock used), many showing steam locomotives.

Problem: didn't do an equipment check before I left Oxford, and have now discovered that my digital camera reports "Change the batteries" when the slider is moved to picture-taking instead of viewing position. Both sets of batteries evoke this message. Both sets could be part-discharged to an unacceptable extent, or there could be a technical fault elsewhere in the camera. In any case, it is unusable as originally projected, and this visit will have to be more about reconnaissance of RAIL 418 and other issues.

DSIR 12/190

Quite a lot of papers on white lines, particularly with ballotini reflectorization as used on the M1 London-Birmingham. A paper by Sheila Thorne on relative effect of buses and cars on speed of traffic. Also papers on precedence of traffic at roundabouts, distribution of traffic among the 24 hours of a day, etc. The paper motivating request of this file, "Legibility of signs with green backgrounds," by Christie and Hirst, is not worth photographing--it is a technical comparison of various hues of green. There is a print of a paper by Smeed on methods of reducing road casualties. This was to be given at the seventh international study week in traffic engineering (held in London from 21-26 September 1964). There is also a chart summarizing the Traffic & Safety Division's proposed research program for 1965/66.

DSIR 12/183

This file should be photographed in part. Paper by Christie and Rutley on "Relative effectiveness of some letter types designed for use on road traffic signs." Also a paper by Newby on accidents on M1 London-Birmingham Motorway in first 12 months of operation. Paper by Tanner regressing traffic flow against carriageway width.

DSIR 12/186

Short note by Coburn et al. on speeds on London-Birmingham Motorway in the first year of operation: averaged 52, 61, 69 MPH by lane (left to right). Interesting paper by Hillier on the assessment of the effect of relief roads on traffic (gets to question of value of improvements). A note (labelled "in confidence--for personal information") addresses types of accidents on the London-Birmingham Motorway. The paper by Rutley and Christie, "A comparison of British road traffic signs with those used in the USA and on the continent of Europe," should be photographed. Paper by Tanner on future vehicle population in GB. Another unpublished note addresses the merits of laybys versus hard shoulders on dual carriageways. An important paper by Odescalchi, Rutley, and Christie on "Time taken to read a traffic sign and its effect on the size of lettering necessary" should be photographed.

RAIL 423/1-2 and RAIL 423/6

Unmitigated dreck. These are all described as "reports on [private] bills" in the relevant Parliamentary sessions (1923, 1924, and 1930, respectively), and appear to be copies just of the relevant bill text, with schedules, maps, and plans generally omitted. (Sigh) Delivery of these files ran over (probably because of congestion in the fileroom due to requests) and squeezed out another document-ordering opportunity.