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altogether in favour. But it with quite consummate ease. is lamentable to note the num- Fast trains may be good or ber which are built still un- they may be bad; but, in the covered ; and the neglect of modern sense of the phrase, steel, which is both stronger we have dispensed with them. and lighter than wood, is one Our settled policy is deceleraof those puzzling phenomena tion, and judging by the 1900 which occasionally confront us Bradshaw, we intend to follow when we study the doings of it merrily for some years to the railway director.
come. Most unfortunately, the Our passenger service has records of American expresses long been our pride, and, per- are regarded, not as scientific haps, even in these degenerate facts, but rather as a means of days, the community has no advertisement, and their reliagreat cause to complain. As bility is sometimes similar to might be expected in so densely that of the cures effected by populated an island, our trains certain well-advertised patent are exceedingly frequent. But, medicines. But it is still unwith the exception of the long- questionable that Uncle Sam distance expresses, they are completely outstrips us in the often disgracefully dirty, chilly, railway race, despite the fact and ill-lighted. A very short that he uses one engine to a sojourn in the United States train while, as a rule, we conwill open our eyes to our short- tent ourselves with two. comings in these respects. Pos- It is sometimes asserted that sibly the public are as much to the civilisation of a country blame as the companies. The may be accurately gauged by utter recklessness with which the rapidity of its methods of the British workman wipes his locomotion.
If there is any boots on the newest cushions, truth in this saw, and the disgusting manner in certainly allowing the land of which he renders compart- General Mercier to stride far ments, smoking and non-smok- ahead of us. According to ing alike, uninhabitable to the French speeds, the journeys to ordinary individual, are inter- Manchester and Edinburgh esting commentaries on the re- from London should each be fining influence of our national shortened by a clear hour. system of compulsory education. Possibly our neighbours may But all this provides no reason be stimulated by a desire to why we should catch our deaths make things lively for visitors of cold when we venture to to their Exhibition. But the travel in winter.
fact remains that their single Hitherto we have believed engines are doing work which is that our trains run faster than far beyond anything attempted those of any other nation. The by our locomotives, running two developments of recent years to a train. have reduced this comfortable A popular fallacy has always notion to a polite
polite fiction. existed whereby it has been America and France beat us thought that, by multiplying
competitive routes between leads on to a principle which given centres of population, we have never yet seen stated you are
sure to compel the in print, but which undoubtedly companies to race for traffic. contains the secret of the magThe wisdom of the man in the nificent simplicity of the comstreet has here turned out to bined North-Western and Calebe folly. The actual effect of donian system. The ordinary encouraging competitive routes man who sits down to design has been to split traffic to such a railway says to himself, “I an extent that high speeds are must begin by selecting a chain given up in disgust. The of large towns-A, B, C, and D. Great Central, for instance, I will build a line from London refuses to race to Manchester to A, from A to B, from B to C, with practically empty trains. and from C to D. After that, Moreover, between real rivals, I will think about branch lines.' it is always possible to strike The North - Western alone of a secret agreement. A treaty British railways recognised the is said to exist between the golden rule that a main line North-Western and the Great should never run through a big Northern, whereby the former city. Deliberately, the directors promises to crawl
crawl to Man- left Birmingham, Manchester, chester, on condition that the Liverpool, Glasgow, and Edinlatter shall only amble to Edin- burgh all on branch or loopburgh. In fact, it may safely lines. Originally, the firstbe said that so long as four or named city had its place on five companies take a bite at the main line, each cherry, such bargains must it has been relegated to a loop, be struck. On the other hand, and has gained thereby. The where a route has a monopoly, results of this somewhat startit is well worth while to run ling piece of strategy gradually fast trains, for they can always dawn upon the mind which is be filled from start to finish. prepared to think the matter In France, the fine speeds are out. First, it is possible to run in no way due to competition. right through to Aberdeen They pay by virtue of their without adding a fraction to essential attractiveness.
the burden of traffic in any of In making comparisons be- the above - enumerated cities. tween our speeds and those Secondly, it is possible to run attained by our rivals, one fact a train to any of the said cities in our favour should not be for- without disturbing the arrangegotten. It is far easier and ments of the remainder. Thirdly, cheaper to run lightning ex- the whole of the Welsh traffic presses through a sparsely escapes the congested areas. populated country like France, Fourthly, all the marshalling than through the dense net- of trains takes place at points work of cities which stretches like Stafford, Crewe, Rugby, over much of Lancashire, York- Carlisle, Carstairs, where land shire, and the Midlands. We is cheap, and where the town mention this point because it itself, apart from its railway
But for years
population, is not important. ought to take place right outThese considerations apply with side the city, is conducted at its
even greater force to the heart. The whole of the East goods traffic, which is always Coast passengers to and from more burdensome than passen- Glasgow and the Highlands ger. To put the matter in a have to be carried through the nutshell, if you start from bottle-neck at Waverley, whereEuston for any of the leading as, by the utilisation of lines, cities on the system, you have most of which already exist, a never to plough your way simple diversion could almost through the suburbs and heart immediately be effected, to the of any other leading city. great relief of all concerned.
Curiously enough, the Great In the discussion of speeds, Western has at last learnt the the question seriously arises as advisability of diverting its to whether our locomotives are main line from the only first- up to their work. This is a rank city on its system, that point upon which specialists is, Bristol. Hitherto traffic has are extremely chary of giving streamed through Swindon to a definite opinion. But it is the port of the west, and has agreed that our engines are not there been split, to be sent, some allowed to show what they can through the Severn Tunnel to do. Moreover, the system of South Wales, other southwards coal premiums, whereby a driver through Exeter to Devon and receives a commission on the Cornwall. By the new arrange- fuel he saves, militates against ments, all through traffic to fair firing. Still, there is an South Wales will escape Bristol, ugly symptom to be explained, and be despatched direct to the and one which requires to be tunnel; while the Exeter traffic carefully noted. Piloting will also be sent by a route that is to say, the placing of which will entirely leave the two engines instead of one at main city out in the cold. But the head of a train—is common Bristol will not suffer any more upon
almost all our lines. It is than Birmingham has suffered. confessedly a pernicious prac
The reductio ad absurdum of tice, leading, as it does, to exthe old axiom that main lines travagance and waste of power : should run through big cities, it is, we believe, scarcely ever reis to be found at Waverley sorted to in France or America; Station, Edinburgh. It is and it would seem as if there generally agreed that in its could only be one explanation reconstructed form this station of it, so far as this country is is the biggest in the United concerned. It is said that our Kingdom. Placed in a narrow gradients are severe and that groove, blocked at each end, our loads are heavy. But it is further expansion is out of the a question whether these exquestion. Yet it is scarcely cuses really account for possible even now to deal with indications of failure. the requirements of the traffic. The fact is, that the whole The marshalling of trains, which system of locomotive building
in Great Britain is open to a marised as follows: they build good deal of criticism. It is for time, while we build for entirely different from that in eternity. Our engines are vogue across the Atlantic, where exquisitely finished, and their a great proportion of the engines parts are made throughout of are built by private firms, like the finest material. The worst those associated with the names of them will last for thirty Baldwin or Schenectady. With years. But the objection to us each railway builds its own this idealism is that within such locomotives on its own engineer's a period the best of them will designs. Let us see what this have become obsolete. The distinction amounts to. Of the American realises this. He dozen engineers in Great Britain does not wish his locomotive to it is not likely that all possess last more than ten to fifteen ability of the very highest order. years. By that time he conSome must be very much more siders he will require a new brilliant than others. More- type, and, in the name of comover, it is exceedingly difficult mon - sense, is he not right? for a company to change its The two engines really cost him engineer when he has been once no more than our one. For appointed, provided that he con- they are made for use, not tinues to fulfil his obligations in ornament, and, moreover, they a reasonably creditable manner. are built according to types Also, it is hard to condemn any which, at the time, are pracof his pet devices without calling tically universal throughout the upon him to resign. It is there- land, a fact which greatly confore a question whether our duces to cheapness. It would railways are served as well as seem to be obviously the most they would be by an inde- economical plan for the railway pendent firm with a reputation companies to combine to supat stake, and in whose offices port colossal firms of locomois concentrated a fair propor. tive builders, rather than to tion of the designing genius of salary engineers, working in the world. This is what actually isolation because working in takes place in America. The competition, to design the works which build locomotives paltry dribblets which each are so enormous, that at every company may require from point of time they are able to time to time. produce absolutely the latest I am leaving the reader to type of machine. They allow judge how far the depression themselves to be hampered by of railway profits is due to no previous errors. Ordering circumstances, and how far from them, you may be certain to positive bad management. that the experience of the last Upon one source of expense, five minutes will be embodied however, there is no justificain the goods supplied.
tion for an indictment of direcThe net difference between tors. Heavy expenses are unourselves and the Americans doubtedly forced upon the commay, perhaps, be best sum- panies by Parliament in the
interests of public safety. The the price of transport. It is tremendous rush of traffic ne- constitutionally a grievance, for cessitates some such supervision, the companies have no vote in but its effect upon the balance- electing the men who spend the sheet is none the less apparent. money.
In some districts the In America, if a man is killed railway provides a good half of at a level - crossing, it is con- the local revenue, despite the sidered that he should have fact that its property has no known better. With us, such value in the open market for an occurrence implies that the purposes other than those of a level-crossing must be a source railway, and that the whole of of public danger. This, at any the other rateable property obrate, is the spirit in which we tains a higher value owing to approach the problem of safety the proximity of the line. working Every accident of Actually, the Great Central, the nature of a collision or de- with a round fourteen millions railment is carefully investi- of absolutely unproductive capigated, and blame is given tal, pays £100,000 every year where blame is due.
to the localities it has sacrificed remember that a bill is now itself to develop before Parliament
The justification for the above acts that the Board of Trade observations, as well as for many may declare any sphere of rail
any sphere of rail- criticisms made earlier in this way activity to be a dangerous rapid survey, must be the unarea, and subject to inspection doubted fact that our railby the State, we see that the ways require strong, far-sighted troubles of Government inter management, together with vention are as yet only begun. help, rather than hindrance, It
may be quite right and proper from the State. Some attempt that such attentions should be should be made to provide a paid to the traffic working, but proper and specialised educathe development is certain to tion for young men desirous of prove costly.
entering the service. The pay The taxation of railways has of the clerical staff should be always been a sore point with increased above starvationthe management. The Treasury point, and a stringent examinaexactions are not, perhaps, so tion should be provided for weighty as to arouse a protest. candidates who desire to enter. But the local rates amount to Promotion should be strictly by an aggregate which will awaken merit, instead of as at present. astonishment with the uniniti- Above all, it is necessary, once ated. The North-Western pays and for all, to drop the insular £440,000 every year to local pride which allows us to imaauthorities, the Great Western gine that our present difficulties £380,000, the Midland £340,000, can be best removed by invariand others are mulcted in pro- ably reversing the policy which portion. This tax on means of has commended itself to railcommunication is economically way authorities outside these unsound, for it directly raises islands.