May Criticize Weather, But Not English Trains, Published 30 January 1958

Some Englishmen seem odd in this fashion:
You might tell one that his wife is ugly and he smiles tolerantly: tell him that his weather is terrible and he gets huffy, but he still speaks to you. But, tell an Englishman that his trains are inferior and you make an enemy for life.
I seem to have done this with Lewis Davies, 268 St. Laurent Boulevard. Unhappily for my reader, I have glorified the Empire State Express and its 112 mph run in 1893, and I have - and this is really serious - forgotten to mention the "City of Truro" run in 1904.
"I cannot allow your article in today's Citizen to go without criticism" writes Mr. Lewis hotly.
He calls this run between Batavia and New York "the perpetuation of a myth," in other words, Mr Lewis writes from Eastview that old 999 never did go 112 miles an hour. But - and remember, - there'll always be an England - the "City of Truro" really did what was claimed. After all, an Englishmen said so.
Gerry Dewan sent me a clipping from New York saying that the Empire State had been reduced to a local. Gerry has been almost half a century in transportation, so presumably would know. I am older than Jerry and I can recall two better records than the NYC 999's 100-plus.
One was the Pennsylvania's 120, or thereabouts, about 1905. The other was the famous two miles a minute run on the Atlantic Coast Line back in 1900.
I find it difficult to convince any Englishmen that any American train ever did what was claimed for it, despite the most minute documentation.
But this is the American continent, and English records see more remote to us and perhaps, to many, less interesting. Whereas many of us have ridden the Empire and it seems more real to us than a fast English train. The Burlington Zephyr one day knocked off 150 miles an hour, but what Englishmen would believe that, unless an Englishman, and not an American, timed it.
I say the Empire made 112 mph. I accept Mr Davies claim for the City of Truro, and I invite rail fans to tell me what they think.

Home   Circle   Cross Articles

Updated 4 June 2019