Broader than Broad

Broader than Broad – by Robin Barnes

“Broader than Broad” by Robin Barnes – Published 2012 by Camden Miniature Steam Services
review by Chris Newman

Whilst departing slightly from this website’s theme of “modern steam”, this book tells the story in words and pictures, of what (had it been built) would have been the most gargantuan of all railway systems, modern or otherwise.  It also has special relevance in being a work by Robin Barnes who contributed all the illustrations of the 5AT that appear on various pages of this website, Robin being not just a painter, but a historian, lecturer, writer and railway enthusiast.

Robin’s latest book is, in fact, an updated version of his earlier book of the same name, that was published in 1998 by Locomotives International.  It tells the story of Adolf Hitler’s fantasy/vision of a new 3m gauge railway network to be spread across and beyond his new empire, from Spain in the west to the frontier of what was to be the new Japanese empire in the east.

The scale of the concept was enormous, almost beyond imagination, even by today’s standards.  Locomotives and rolling stock were to be 6m (20 ft) wide and up to 6.85 m (22ft 4in) high, running on rails 3m (9ft 10in) apart.  Many of the locomotives were to be 60 or 70 metres in length, with one design for a passenger diesel loco (a 36,000 hp 4-unit 2’Do2’+2’Do2’+2’Do2’+2’Do2′) being 95 metres long. Two of the steam turbine designs were to be even longer, the largest (a 21,800 hp 2’Fo’Fo’2’+5T5+5T5+2’Fo’Fo’2′ freight loco) being all of 128 metres in length.  Of the reciprocating steam designs, one freight-haulage unit was to be a 20,000hp 8-cylinder 2-10-6+6-6-6-6+6-10-2 some 77.5 metres long, while the largest passenger design was of a 24,000hp 10-cylinder 4’D4’+4′-K4’T-4’+4’D4′ 93 metres in length and weighing well over 1000 tonnes.

No less amazing were the proposed speeds that these monsters were planned to run at. Freight locos were to haul massive trains at a modest 100 km/h, but the passenger locos (including the 93m long steam monster) were expected to run 1000 tonne trains at no less than 250 km/h.  Furthermore they were to maintain that speed for hundreds of miles at a stretch.

Robin illustrates his text with a large selection of vivid watercolours showing several of these monstrous locomotives and their trains.  Various wagon and carriage types (including the interiors of restaurant and cinema cars) are also pictured, together with diagrams of trackwork and other technical features.

Rounding off this amazing book are descriptions of the several broad gauge railway concepts that came before and after Hitler’s dream, some of which are as odd, even if not as spectacular, as the Fuhrer’s vision.

This book will be a worthy addition to the bookshelves of anyone with even the most peripheral interest in railways.  It may be purchased directly from the publisher, Camden Miniature Steam Services.