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The idea, as I understand it, is to transfer fragile material (glass bulbs in this case, I believe) from one moving something to another, or over to a platform. This is taking place in the 1920's, I think. Anyway, here's the quote:

However, I suffered myself to be taken to Battersea; and there, sure enough, I found a workshop, duly labelled as the premises of The New Transport Company, Limited, and spacious enough to accommodate a double railway line with a platform. The affair was unquestionably real, so far.

The platform was not provided with a station: its sole equipment was a table with a row of buttons on it for making electrical contacts. Each line of railway had on it a truck with a steel lid. The practical part of the proceedings began by placing an armchair on the lid of one of the trucks and seating me in it. A brimming glass of water was then set at my feet. I could not imagine what I was expected to do with the water or what was going to happen; and there was a suggestion of electrocution about the chair which made me nervous.

Gattie then sat down majestically at the table on the platform with his hand hovering over the buttons. Intimating that the miracle would take place when my truck passed the other truck, he asked me to choose whether it should occur at the first passage or later, and to dictate the order in which it should be repeated.

I was by that time incapable of choosing; so I said the sooner the better; and the two trucks started. When the other truck had passed mine I found myself magically sitting on it, chair and all, with the glass of water unspilled at my feet.

  1. Does "a double railway line" mean two tracks running parallel to each other? Are they linked? Is a switch involved?

  2. Are the trucks - trucks (i.e. bogies) that look like this:

enter image description here

or are they flatbed freight cars that look like this:

enter image description here

  1. Most important: how was the author (G.B. Shaw) transferred (along with the glass of water) over to the other - moving - whatever it was?
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    $\begingroup$ 1. Yes, this means that you have two parallel tracks. This is useful if you want to circulate trains in both directions. In case of a line with a single track, trains would typically have to wait in stations if another train uses the track in the opposite direction. Double railway lines are usually linked with several switches. They allow to bypass any sections where accidents happened or maintenance is being done. $\endgroup$ – Karlo Feb 5 '16 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting stuff: can you give us the source info (book, journal, whatever)? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 5 '16 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ Is this supposed to be a real description or a sci-fi book? $\endgroup$ – hazzey Feb 5 '16 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft: Sure. It's the preface to the play titled "The Apple Cart" by G.B. Shaw. Here: gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300431h.html $\endgroup$ – Ricky Feb 5 '16 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ 2nd paragraph "... truck with a steel lid...". It is difficult to see how a lid would be placed on a bogey (British English). In older mines, underground rail trucks, hauled by a locomotive, were used to transport ore & waste to the tipping point, near the hoisting shaft, on each level. These were 4 sided wagons with a open top. I have also read & heard how, in WW 2, Jews were transported to death camps in rail cattle trucks. Some people would have called them cattle cars or wagons. It would fair to assume a truck in this case would be a wagon "with a steel lid" on it. $\endgroup$ – Fred May 31 '17 at 2:12

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