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LSR (Liverpool & Southport Railway) Electrification (1904)
THE ELECTRIFICATION OF THE LIVERPOOL AND SOUTHPORT RAILWAY.
The railway companies of this country have keenly felt the competition which the advent of electric tramways has caused, and have sought means to protect themselves against it.
A number of things have been suggested so as while not reducing the speed of the trains, to keep down expenses to such a point as would enable the fares charged to be reduced to the level of, or even below, the small charges made by the tramways. There have been motor coaches and powerful locomotives, and what not.
Each of these, perhaps, has its own useful sphere of activity, but that which will probably prove eventually to be the most efficacious is the adoption on our railway' systems of electric traction. With this motive power it would seem that the railways are better off than are the tramways, were it only because higher speeds can be attained. It is true that the railways only carry passengers between points some distance apart, and do not get the intermediate traffic like their rivals, but it is not this intermediate traffic which the tramways have wrested from them. It is the station to station and the terminal traffic which has been dwindling.
Now, if it can be shown that the railways can take passengers more quickly between two points, and as cheaply as, or more cheaply than the tramways, then it is certain that much, if not all, the lost traffic will be won back.
At the present moment several of our railways are busily engaged in equipping their lines or portions of them for electric traction. We understand that in addition, several more are most seriously considering the question, some having gone so far as to get out complete plans.
Here in London the Metropolitan and the District Companies are converting their lines in the metropolitan area. The Great Western is dealing in the same manner with a portion of its suburban lines. In the North there is the North-Eastern Company busily engaged in electrifying some of the lines running along the side of the Tyne, while on the other aide of England the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway has practically completed the task of equipping the line running between Liverpool and Southport for electric traction.
Now to the average Londoner, for instance, the line between Liverpool and Southport would probably be considered as a branch line of no very great importance. This same Londoner would probably be most surprised to learn that the traffic between Liverpool and Southport is considerably greater than that between Liverpool and Manchester. Yet this is so. The number of people travelling between these two North Midland centres of industry is less than the number of persons who go backwards and forwards between Liverpool and its near neighbour, Southport.
The reason is not far to seek. The town of Southport is a pleasant place. It is only some 18 miles from Liverpool, and it is right on the sea. It is a delightful residential locality, and the workers in Liverpool like to live there, and to go backwards and forwards morning and night. The distance between the two places is also not too great to prohibit a large day traffic of persons desirous of doing shopping in the large city.
Consequently the Liverpool & Southport Railway is a main line of considerable importance. It was on this portion of its system that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway decided to make the experiment of electric traction. On Saturday last we were enabled by the courtesy of Mr. J. A. F. Aspinall, the general manager of the railway, and at the invitation of the contractors, Messrs. Dick, Kerr and Company, to inspect and make a trial run upon this line. We are indebted to the contractors for information freely accorded, and for the series of interesting photo- graphs and drawings with which they provided us, and many of which we reproduce.